241: Identifying and Leaning Into Your Strengths

241: Identifying and Leaning Into Your Strengths


In this episode, I share invaluable insights on identifying and leaning into your strengths for greater confidence and success, particularly for first-gen BIPOCs in grad school and beyond. I also share a recent personal challenge involving a sudden illness before a speaking engagement and how I navigated this by focusing on my strengths and sustainable productivity practices.

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241: Identifying and Leaning Into Your Strengths


Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Welcome back everyone to another episode of the Grad School Femtoring Podcast. This is your host, Dr. Yvette. Today I am going to be offering you a short solo episode on identifying and leaning into your [00:02:00] strengths. I want to remind you that no matter who you are, no matter what your identities are, no matter what your circumstances are.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: You have strengths. You have things that you are good at. You have things that come innately to you. You have gifts. You have talents. And if no one's told you this, I am here to tell you this. I need to remind you because I see time and time again people walking around all over the place, not realizing how incredible they are.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And it's incredibly frustrating because a lot of times we have strengths, we have talents, and we take them for granted. And so I want to give you an example. of how once you start to identify and lean into your strengths, it can actually help you to increase your confidence and to survive and thrive when [00:03:00] life happens.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So this is what happened to me last week. Last week I had a speaking engagement and it was an in person speaking engagement at UC Irvine. I knew I had to travel in the middle of the week but unfortunately The weekend prior, I got very sick. Now this is sometimes what happens for those of us who are chronically ill is that every once in a while, we flare up.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: We have a set of baseline symptoms that we experience on a day to day basis that are manageable where we can still remain functional to some extent. And then there are times that our symptoms worsen to the point where we are not as functional as usual or not functional at all, and we have to call in sick, cancel plans, and it's incredibly frustrating.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So that's what happened to me last weekend. Sunday night, I started to develop stomach flu like symptoms, which sometimes [00:04:00] happens, unfortunately, and usually they go away after a couple of hours or after a day. But This time, it impacted me for multiple days. It was alarming, it was concerning, and so I did what I always do when I flare up, which is shift gears to minimum mode, to doing the bare minimum that I need to survive.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And that meant that I cancelled some meetings, rescheduled some other meetings. I also pushed some things back, which included recording this episode. I'm actually recording this episode the night before I release it, which is very, very odd for me to do. I don't like doing things at the last minute. But it is what it is.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: It got pushed back. So I pushed it back. I did keep some things on my calendar and played it by ear. The things that I kept on my calendar were things that were restorative or energizing for me. And that's one of the things that [00:05:00] I talk a lot about when it comes to my work on sustainable productivity is reminding people that in any given week you are doing things that are either depleting your energy Or energizing you or restoring your energy.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And for me, there are certain types of meetings that I know that are energizing for me. I kept those on my calendar and that was great. That helped me to feel like, okay, at least I am still doing the bare minimum. At least I'm not completely drowning. And at least even if I have to keep my camera off, I can still get some stuff done that is going to make me feel good.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: By the time I was traveling, I wasn't 100 percent back to my baseline, but I was well enough to physically get there. And then Friday morning when I delivered my keynote, I knew I had it in the bag. I knew that the hardest part for me was making sure that I felt good enough to [00:06:00] physically travel to my location.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Once I was there, I had 100 percent confidence in my ability to deliver a powerful keynote because it's tied to my strengths. Now, what are my strengths? If you don't know this, uh, now you know that I am actually someone who was involved in theater, and primarily acting from my childhood all the way until my junior year in college.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I say this a lot and even though I'm no longer a theater practitioner, it is still a big part of my life. It is something that I'm very fond of and it's something that I feel like it's a part of me and I loved doing theater. I loved Being able to fully express my emotions on stage, and that's something that I'm quite good at.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And I think that I took that for granted in my youth. I didn't realize that not everybody is as expressive, or as [00:07:00] evocative, or as intuitive, or as empathic as I am. Now I know, and now I know that's something that I can bring with me and that I can, you know, pull out at any time that I need, which is great.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So I knew that I could lean into that. I also knew that I was delivering a talk on something that I'm very, very comfortable talking about. The talk was for the Women's Center Empower Us Conference. The theme was on embracing our power, and I chose to talk about the power of storytelling, personal development, and sustainable productivity as a means to reclaim our power.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So I got to tell my personal story, and I got to talk about Sustainable productivity and personal development, two concepts that have drastically changed my life. And because of the content of the presentation, which I'm very, very comfortable with, because of the method of delivery, which was in [00:08:00] person with a live audience, and my experience with public speaking and performing, again, I could lean into my strengths.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: My strengths are My familiarity with concepts and the topics. My strengths are my ability to be expressive, evocative, and galvanizing. I, I, I, there's something about the passion that I feel with these topics that folks also get to feel themselves. And it often sparks action, action in them. And I love that.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I love to be able to Inspire people to take action in a direction that will positively change their life. And so that was that. Uh, giving that presentation was the least of my concerns. When I was there, I felt so in my element. I felt in a state of flow. And that's what some of us talk about actually when it comes to identifying your skills, identifying your strengths, identifying the things that you're really good at and the things that feel really [00:09:00] good to you and pairing that with the things that make you feel purposeful, you will at some point reach a state of flow.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: It's almost like a natural high and that's when you know you've hit that good spot. So for you, if you haven't quite identified your strengths, Ask people around you what they think you're good at. They might tell you, you know what? You are so creative or you are so organized or you are so articulate or you are so resourceful.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Whatever, excuse me, whatever it is that they say. Remember that. Start to write down every time someone compliments you about something, write that down, jot it down. Take a strengths test if you need to, but whatever you do, start to become more aware and start to lean into those things a little bit more.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: The things that come easy to you, the things that feel good to you, the things that [00:10:00] you've noticed you are really good at because odds are you're probably a lot better at it than the people around you. You might be taking. that strength for granted. And eventually you might find yourself in a position like me where you start to not only identify, but you really lean into them and you lean into them so much that it gives you that confidence to share this gift, to share this talent, to share this strength with the world.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I think that's all I have to say about today. I just wanted to remind you to make sure that you are noticing what your strengths are, to make sure that you start to exercise them more, lean into them, and that hopefully you can use them in a way that provides a positive ripple effect in the world. Okay, thanks so much for listening.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I will talk to you all next time.

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