Strengths are not necessarily the same as the limited range of abilities that are praised at school or the skills you might traditionally list on a CV. Your strengths might include map reading, or soothing a frightened child, or matching colours, or sensing the mood in a room – or even (though I struggle to see this one) adding up a column of numbers and getting the same answer twice…
I often talk with clients about the benefits that come from working with your strengths, in terms of feeling more satisfied internally about work, and also in helping you to do your best work, so your boss or clients are also satisfied – it’s a great win-win. Clients readily see the logic in this, and agree that it’s a good idea to use strengths more, but many wonder how they can actually FIND their strengths in the first place, so they can put them to work. (And yes, everyone has them, even you…).
First up, let’s look at the question of what actually constitutes a strength.
Strengths are the things you love to do. Using strengths leads to development of deep skills, and to that wonderful state known as flow. You love doing it, so you keep doing it, so you develop confidence and eventually, expertise.
It’s not about things you are good at doing, it’s about things that make you feel strong inside, things that uplift you, make you feel energised, things you look forward to and feel involved with.
When you are using your strengths, you are in your element and you shine!
Try these exercises to help you get clear on your strengths:
1, Thinking about the last week or two, what activities did you do that left you feeling strong, energised and positive?
Be very specific, what precise activities were they? Work activities are great, but maybe there are clues outside your core working life, too? What were the activities you looked forward to, or enjoyed, focused easily on, got into the zone/felt in flow with? What activities drew you in, so you lost track of time?
2, List your top 5 – 10 strengths
3, What do you do differently than other people?
4, What’s a strength or skill you’d like to be able to use more often?
5, What’s your favourite strength or skill?
6, List at least 3 ways you could use some of your top strengths this week
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