I want what she’s got! How to borrow strengths from others

Can we borrow strengths from others without feeling like an imposter?

So you’re feeling jealous? Lost to the dark side? It happens. You know the scenario: She, (insert name) has the entire package: intelligent, friendly, capable, attractive, collaborative, and a success at every turn, so what’s not to like? Except… she’s just passed you in the fast lane.

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Once a teammate, she’s now your manager, and it’s driving you nuts. Why didn’t they pick you? What was once admiration has morphed to envy and with escalating annoyance, you’re haunted by the thought, “I want what she’s got! How can I get it? “

Can you compete? Of course you can. The concept that ‘leaders are born, not made’, is simply not true. Some may have a head-start with certain attributes, but all strengths are available to each one of us as natural resources to develop at will – we simply need motivation, know-how, and perseverance. So the good news is, whatever you want as a new strength in real life is yours for the taking.

Here is a 5-step strategy to help you transform into that ‘enhanced’ person you’d like to become:

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings

Perceive your discomfort as a gift.

There’s no need for guilt or denial. The edginess you’re experiencing may be generating negative emotions that you’re not proud of, but it’s also serving as a wake-up call and catalyst for self-development and positive change. With this awareness, you can motivate yourself to move away from a state of victimhood, and toward constructive, self-empowering action; a so-called ‘evolution of the soul’.

2. Define What You Want

Identify the characteristics of your desired strength

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Each of us has a complete repertoire of personal strengths, but we grow up using, developing, and valuing some of them more than others. What you’ll be doing at this stage is gaining clarity about which dusty, marginalised strength you want to pull back out of the cupboard for use.

In our fictitious scenario, let’s assume that the ‘new manager’ grew up with a natural comfort with ‘assertiveness’. She’d always been at ease being directive, outgoing, competitive, and goal-driven and these attributes had placed her on the fast track to the management role.

Let’s say you, on the other hand, have always perceived the very same assertive characteristics, as being pushy, demanding and lacking in sensitivity. You found you could only exercise them when you were angry or defensive and under those circumstances it wasn’t pretty.

But feeling left behind, you are now determined to expand your repertoire. You decide, for example, that you want to be able to say ‘no’ to projects you don’t have time for, have the courage to push your agenda forward in a competitive meeting, and be a thought leader instead of a silent follower…

Taking you back now to your own real life situation, this step, is about observing how the strength you seek to develop looks and sounds on others- then, visualising it and trying it on for size yourself.

3. Plan How to ‘Express’ It

Create a strategic plan for its manifestation

Coach yourself to begin using the strength in a realistic situation. Picture the anticipated scenario and try to see, hear, and feel yourself using the attribute in a way that is comfortable for your personality style. What words will you use, what behaviour, what tone of voice? The same attribute may look quite different on each one of us but generate a similar effect.

4. Repeatedly Envision It

Your opportunity for a safe, trial run

See yourself using the desired attribute just as you planned in Step 3, as if watching yourself in a movie. See people responding well. See yourself achieving the exact outcomes you’re looking for. Picture it over and over again so that when you’re presented with a real opportunity, you’re well-rehearsed and ready to give it a shot.

5. Enact it

Show time!

Wear your strength like a pair of new jeans- they may feel snug at the start but will ease up with use. Persevere. Enjoy, and know that you’re not an imposter. This is ‘your new strength, expressed your way’. And think about, good old ‘envy’ got you here!


Muffy Churches is the author of Coach Yourself, A 7-Step Guide to Personal Fulfilment (Love & Write Publishing). She is an internationally recognized integrative coach-therapist. Born in the US and settled in Sydney, she works as executive coach, leadership trainer, speaker, author, and counsellor. She has extensive experience in inspiring and initiating positive behavioural change in clients around the world. For more information visit www.muffychurches.com or contact: connect@muffychurches.com