Do you know what your key strengths are? And do you seek out opportunities that help you build on these strengths?
Our strengths are our positive personal qualities that make us unique. We all have our special strengths or super powers and if we use them, we can enhance our own lives and those around us.
Knowing what we are good at, and using it, is the key to our success. But so often we take ourselves for granted and forget what makes us special.
If I asked you to tell me what your strengths are, it is quite likely that you would struggle to answer. You would probably find it easier to talk about your weaknesses than your strengths. But, at the same time, you would be able to easily name a couple of strengths of your best friends. So why is that?
Why is it hard to identify our own strengths?
1. Our strengths are often things we find easy – we assume that everyone else finds it easy too, so it is nothing special. We may not notice it as a strength unless someone points it out.
2. We don’t see ourselves the way other people do. We are often overly critical of ourselves.
3. We spend more time focusing on our weaknesses and things we think we should improve.
4. We act modestly because we are worried about appearing to be boasting
5. Our most extreme traits could be both strengths and weaknesses depending on the situation e.g. being persistent is a strength but if it involves being stubborn and not taking into account others’ points of view it can be a weakness too.
6. We tend to compare ourselves with others. If someone compliments you on your IT skills, you immediately think of at least 3 people who are better at solving IT problems than you are.
So why is it important to not only know, but also articulate your strengths to others.
Gallup are a renowned workplace leadership and performance management organization. They have conducted research worldwide for more than 80 years. They found that people who used their strengths in their work were more motivated, more productive, happier at work and less likely to quit their jobs.
Research has also proven that we are more successful when we focus on our strengths rather than trying to fix our weaknesses.
By discovering your strengths, you will learn what makes you exceptional and how you can maximise your life at work and everywhere else. You will become the best version of you.
When you know and use your strengths:
1. Your confidence will increase when you have a better understanding of yourself.
2. Knowing what you are good at enables you to aim higher and achieve more.
3. You will be able to narrow down your job options.
4. It will put you ahead of other candidates in the job application process.
5. At work you will be motivated and experience greater job satisfaction job.
There are 2 ways you can begin to identify your strengths:
1. By observing yourself and doing self reflection. Consider things such as:
· Notice what you enjoy
· Think about what comes easily to you
· What do others compliment you for?
· What do you enjoy about your work?
· Think about some positive experiences you have had and what strengths you used to make them happen.
2. By taking a Strengths Assessment:
Gallup (mentioned above) have a very well known strengths assessment tool called the Clifton Strengths Assessment, which currently costs US$19.95 for the basic test.
The VIA Institute have a free basic character strengths tool at www.ViaCharacter.org. If you want to go into more depth, there is a paid version. This assessment works with 24 character strengths and asks you a series of questions. The report it generates list all 24 strengths in order of importance.
If you would like to dig more deeply into this, and discover some hidden strengths, download this simple free assessment tool.