Take one second to think about this question. Do you know your strengths? Not your physical strengths, but that other type of strength. The strength that can only be found within yourself and shapes who you are as a person.
Think of the last time you consciously recognized the actions you were taking to help you pull through a hard time, a tough assignment, or just another moment. Did you recognize your own strength? Do you know your strengths when you exercise them? If so, how do you use them?
In this post I will answer the following questions:
- Why Even Know Your Strengths?
- How Do You Know Your Strengths?
- Now That You Know Your Strengths, How Do You Use Them?
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Unfortunately for most, strengths aren’t the focus of attention. Instead, people like to talk about their flaws.
“I am a BIG procrastinator” “I stress too easily” “I’m a perfectionist”
They point out their weaknesses as if it’s the latest gossip. But by pointing out your weaknesses you are preventing anyone else from having the ability to make you feel bad about them, right?
Wrong. You can still feel bad about them! People have become so comfortable with this type of defense mechanism, they don’t even recognize it for what it is.
Why Even Know Your Strengths?
Knowing what you are good at and how your mind is framed is extremely important because your strengths are how you overcome challenges, make an impact, and live a happier life. You must know yourself before you can know your purpose.
In the same way, you must know what natural abilities, skills, and talents you already possess to be able to use them!
We all have strengths and weaknesses, but as science suggests, exercising our strengths can do more for us than trying to fix our weaknesses.
Every job, every experience, every trauma, has been an opportunity to exercise your strengths.
How to Know Your Strengths
Are you creative? Organized? What even qualifies as a strength?
Sure, it is hard to be subjective about ourselves, but hasn’t there ever been a time someone told you that you were good at something? To be honest, I think our “strengths” can be from a variety of categories. It can be a skill, a craft, a part of your personality, a behavior, or a natural talent.
To find out for myself, I recently took the Clifton Strengths quiz, and I was thrilled about the results. If you don’t already know, Clifton Strengths (formerly known as Strengths Finder) is a book combined with a comprehensive questionnaire which can be used to determine your top strengths out of a common list of 34.
I have filled out many quizzes and tests over the years. The introspection I gain is priceless which is why I think the $50 for Clifton Strengths is worth it. With a purchase, you are given an analysis of the results of the questionnaire, as well as a full write-up on how you can apply this into your own life.
If you aren’t quite ready to make the $50 payment that is okay because there are plenty of free options.
My favorite free option is the VIA Character Strengths survey because it is based on scientific research in the field of positive psychology. This test has 24 strengths and an extensive list of questions. They offer paid options, but all you really need for now is the free version.
Before taking any of these tests, make sure you are in the right mindset. Try to be as honest as possible, and pick one side or the other. Neutral answers can throw off the accuracy of the test as there won’t be as much information to analyze.
If possible, try to take these tests at an optimal time and remember how this makes you feel. Is it difficult? Easy? Write down your experience as this can provide even more insight.
Now That You Know Your Strengths, How Do You Use Them?
After you have a list of your personal strengths, you need to brainstorm where and how you can use them. The tests usually give enough context to make this pretty easy.
Think of how you have used these strengths before, how you can apply them in the next 24 hours, and how you can use them in the future.
Don’t limit this to your work, also think about your home life, relationships, personal time, and anywhere in between that you can exercise these strengths.
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These are my Top 5 Strengths from StrengthsFinder:
Futuristic – People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.
How I’ve Used this Before – Inspired my students to go beyond what they thought they could accomplish (their words, not mine :))
How I Can Use This in The Next 24 Hours – Give a pep talk to another student
Where I Can Use This In The Future – Create the vision for this website which is to help others see a great future for themselves!
Relator – People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.
How I’ve Used this Before – Sorority Recruitment
How I Can Use This in The Next 24 Hours – Talk with my husband about the project we are working on and plan out tasks for the next week
Where I Can Use This In The Future – Collaborate with other bloggers to create a super awesome product/project!
Discipline – People who are especially talented in the Discipline theme enjoy routine and structure. Their world is best described by the order they create.
How I’ve Used this Before – I created a workout schedule that helped me to lose 30 lbs
How I Can Use This in The Next 24 Hours – Avoid watching Netflix until I have finished this post
Where I Can Use This In The Future – Create an entire week’s workflow routine that will allow me to optimize my time
Focus – People who are especially talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.
How I’ve Used this Before – I used this when I was working towards my education and finished faster than anticipated
How I Can Use This in The Next 24 Hours – Use my extra time at work to help a specific student who needs it
Where I Can Use This In The Future – Develop a plan for the next few posts, and adjust accordingly without letting any setbacks to prevent me from getting it done
Strategic – People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.
How I’ve Used this Before – Given a very tight deadline at work, I went through the task very quickly by finding the factor that causes a dividing line between the different students (this is very hard to explain without saying what I do)
How I Can Use This in The Next 24 Hours – Create a spreadsheet to keep my work organized
Where I Can Use This In The Future – Think of new ways to manage my time more efficiently to be able to do more
This may take more than one session to process this. That’s okay, take your time! This exercise is proven to have a positive effect on people’s lives even in a gold-standard, placebo-controlled, random assignment scientific experiment. So trust in the process!