Our culture is rampant with negativity. From report cards to annual reviews at work to billboard advertising, we tend to hear what’s wrong with us, where we are weak and what we need to do in order to improve. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a society where everyone’s talents were recognized, validated, encouraged and admired? That’s why strengths are such a positive factor in creating success: they tell you what is right with you.
Strengths are the tendencies and skills at which you naturally excel. Strengths can be developed, deepened and even resuscitated after lying dormant for many years.
My message to clients is to play to your strengths. It is one of the keys to creating success in your life.
In my experience, you are more likely to reach your goals and be a success if you are doing things that you are good at. It’s much easier to play to your strengths rather than compensate for weaknesses. The more you develop your natural talents, the stronger they become. And, the more you use your strengths, the less of a struggle life becomes.
Find Your Strengths
The first step in working with strengths is to identify them. There are a number of good strengths assessments that are easily accessible. I personally like StrengthsFinder 2.0 based on research by the Gallup Organization. This assessment measures the areas in which you have the greatest potential for strength. It is accessessed on-line once you buy the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath and get a code which permits you to take the assessment. After taking the assessment, you receive a report with your 5 top strengths and ways in which you can develop them.
Another alternative is the VIA Character Strengths Profile which measures your inherent character strengths based on your values. This assessment can be accessed on-line for free. The report lists your top 24 strengths, although there is no discussion of how to develop or use them. You can get that information by purchasing a more in-depth personalized report.
Use Your Strengths
Once you know your strengths, there are many ways to use this information. Let’s start with using your strengths in your life. In my experience, the best way to use a strength is to apply it to all areas of your life, not just your career or your relationships.
A great example came to me from one of my clients whose top strength (as measured by the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment) is achievement. This is a young man who is very ambitious about getting ahead in the music world and his achievement strength motivates him to set and achieve his goals. The downside for him was that he worked so hard that he had little time for friends or fun, both of which were also important to him. Because setting and achieving goals were second nature to him, I suggested that he use his achievement strength in areas other than his career. That led him to set goals around meeting new people, expanding his network and carving out time for fun. And because he is so good at working towards achieving goals, in no time he had met some new people. In addition, he made sure that he had some time each week to relax and he started watching TV after his work was done. He now feels a lot better about his life because he is having more fun, while still maintaining his high standards in his work. For him, applying his achievement strength to areas other than his work was one of the best things that he had ever done for himself.
What are your strengths? How are you using them? Once you begin to play to your strengths, I bet you will find that things will come much more easily to you. And if you do not have opportunities to use your strengths, see what you can do to change that up. Stay tuned for more on strengths!