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A Starting Point for Finding and Using Your Strengths

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

Great athletes know what their strengths are and use them to their full potential. Great coaches also know their player’s strengths and ensure they are being exploited to the maximum. You too, should know your own strengths in order maximize your own potential.

Types of Strengths

There are many different types of strengths. You can have cognitive strengths (memory, creativity, logic, & reasoning, etc.), social strengths (influential, supportive, understanding, etc.), emotional strengths (remaining calm, reading others, being energetic, etc.), knowledge strengths (education, years of experience, book read, etc.), and others.

Finding Your Strengths

Finding your strengths can be a simple as thinking about yourself and listing them on a piece of paper. It also can be more involved by taking a strength finding test or a full evaluation.

You might want to enlist some of those around you to give their feedback on your strengths. You have to be willing to hear some things about yourself that you might not want to confront. Remember, the first step towards changing any behavior is to identify it. You may want to read our article to help you prepare: Simple Advice for Giving and Receiving Feedback

There are many tests and evaluations you can take in order to find your strengths. Each has their own way of measuring and you will have to do a bit of research to find which one will work best for you. This Positive Psychology article by Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury talks about how strength finding tests works and describes a few common ones: 6 Strength Finding Tests and Questionnaires You Can Do Today.

These tests are just tools to help identify certain common traits about yourself. Do not feel like they define you in any way, or that you cannot change them. As with all psychometric tests, the answers can vary depending on your physiological and psychological state when taking the test. The results also depend on how you interpret the questions. The results can still be useful and the tests do give a structured way to find your strengths.

Understanding Your Strengths

Understanding your strengths will help you to utilize them better. Take some time to really understand what your strengths mean. Just knowing that you are disciplined and focused might not be enough to really help you. Think about how those traits translate into how you behave and interact.

Maybe you can focus for long periods of time and that helps you write long articles. Or maybe being disciplined is great because you are fitness trainer and you need that skill to succeed. Learning more about strengths will also help you better understand how to use them.

If you are struggling to understand your strengths, this Psychology Today article by Ryan M. Niemiec might help: Understand Your Strengths. A list of several strengths with detailed information on each can be found on this Gallup webpage: The 34 CliftonStrengths Themes Explain Your Talent DNA. You can click on each strength listed to learn more details about it.

Using Your Strengths

Once you know your top strengths, you can now put them to use for you. The first step towards using your strengths is to remind yourself of them. In order to remember what they are and to use them, it is a good idea to place a list of them somewhere that is visible on a daily basis. This might be on sticky notes on the bathroom mirror, a calendar notice or reminder that pops up once or more time a day. The idea is to keep that list of strengths front and center of your mind.

The next step is to brainstorm ways to use your strengths. It may be helpful to recruit some people to help you. The goal is to identify and create ways to use each strength. For example, maybe paying attention to detail is a strength you have. How can that be used in your job and at home? Maybe at your job, you can be someone who reviews work for errors before it is submitted. Maybe at home, you can inspect the cleaning duties of the family.

Whether you are trying to use your strengths at home or at work, the goal is to make them a habit. Below are some more resources to help you.

This Harvard Business Review article gives some detailed advice on how you might use your strengths in your job: How to Play to Your Strengths

This Psychology Today article by Marianna Pogosyan gives some examples of how you can improve aspects of your life: How to Use Your Strengths for a Better Life

What About Weaknesses?

It is just as important to know and understand your weaknesses. They can get in the way of using your strengths and derail your progress. Most of the information in this article also applies to weaknesses.

The exception is that you want to work more on being aware of your weaknesses and overcoming them. That may mean either stopping a certain behavior or finding ways to improve certain skills.

Just remember that criticizing or blaming yourself does not work. It actually reinforces those behaviors. You will have to step out of your comfort zone and push yourself to improve. Take small steps and celebrate each one.

How Will You Use Your Strengths?

Now that you know your strengths and weaknesses, how will you use them going forward? Let us know in the comments below.

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