Health Fusion: We all have our strengths, so figure out what they are and start using them

Life can get stressful if you're constantly annoyed by your coworkers, roommate or partner because they think and do things differently than you do. Some people are super disciplined and others are more flexible. But those differences can be a good thing. In this "Health Fusion" column, Viv Williams talks to a local business person about how his company helps individuals and organizations be more balanced and successful by identifying and elevating personal strengths.

Happy young latina woman using her laptop at home
Identifying your strengths and supporting those of others may make you happier at home and work
Tierney -
We are part of The Trust Project.

ROCHESTER, Minn. — In life and at work, people tend to focus on the negative instead of pointing out the positive. It's easy to take a tumble down that rabbit hole.

Take relationships, for example. Sometimes people who live together or spend a lot of time in the same space get on each other's nerves. Opposites attract, it seems, and we all have those moments of frustration that stem from not understanding why people do things the way that they do. Maybe you get a little steamed when you walk into a room to find an orange peel and dirty socks on the coffee table. Or maybe you disgruntle your partner or roommate because you forgot to mention that your car was in the shop and you'd need a lift home from work.

The same sort of issues happen in the workplace. People get annoyed with each other because they have different work habits and systems.

Instead of zooming in on the problems we see in others, why not identify each other's strengths and put those talents to use? We might become more productive and less stressed and in the process. Better yet, we might improve daily interactions with people at work, school and at home. We might be happier.

"Individuals who work to their strengths report a three-times higher level of joy in their lives than those who do not," said Bruce Alfred, owner of BolsterUp , a coaching and consulting company for individuals and organizations based in Rochester, Minnesota. "At work, when we work to our strengths, rather than trying to fix our weaknesses, we get to work happier and work better. We do better."


Alfred and his team use the Gallup CliftonStrengths assessment to identify people's innate talents. Then they set goals and develop tools for a path to success. The same process works for organizations. The assessment identifies individual team members' top talents (we can't be experts at everything) and figures out how best to leverage them. Then they develop a plan that streamlines procedures, promotes collaboration, boosts efficiency and ensures understanding of each person's strengths. Alfred says the result lifts the entire team.

"Our strengths are really who we are as people," Alfred said. "If we develop and use our strengths to complement the talents of others, we'll be more successful and a lot happier in the process. And we'll be better partners."

Some people are disciplined. They live and work on schedule. Others are adaptable and are more flexible. So, for example, if you're creative and good at computer graphics, but not great at accounting, focus on putting together a fabulous brochure for your company instead of agreeing to keep the books.

In addition to identifying strengths and putting them to use to benefit your relationships, Alfred's program also focuses on well-being and resilience.

"Yes, we can do better by working toward our strengths," Alfred said. "But how are we in our whole lives? Well-being is the other part of Bolsterup. We want to help people work, interact and feel their best. Because when that happens, life is great."

The BolsterUp program includes practices such as mindfulness and meditation. To learn more about Bosterup or to reach Alfred, check out www.BolsterUp.Life.


Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

If you don't have a side veggie for tonight's dinner, no problem. Toss in a big bunch of fresh herbs. They're full of flavor and can boost your health. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams checks out the benefits of herbs and gives a tip on how to store them so they last longer.

What to read next
The Detroit Record used to advertise hair food. Yes, you read that right. Ayer's Hair Vigor, food for the hair that cured dandruff, falling hair and restored all of the hair's rich color of early life was advertised in a 1905 issue of the paper, but as one Sanford Health family nurse practitioner said, men experiencing baldness today should probably stick to Rogaine or Minoxidil.
Biophilia is becoming an increasingly popular principle in integrative medicine as researchers are finding health benefits associated with spending time outside.
"Minding Our Elders" columnist Carol Bradley Bursack advises a reader who wants support and to talk to others in this position, but doesn't want to get "mired in the negative."
Acute and chronic pain are unrelated and must be treated as such, says author of new book on the complexity of chronic pain and the need for a multispecialty, non-opioid model of chronic pain treatment.