In order to do good by developing our strengths, we first need to know what they are. Because they come so naturally, we often take them for granted, assuming they come as easily to everyone else as they do to us. Researchers estimate that as many as two-thirds of us have no idea what our strengths are. Three ways to learn about your strengths are self-discovery, assessments and feedback from others.
Four clues will help uncover your strengths.
- Enjoyment: Experience that bring about positive emotions often point to a strength. We typically enjoy doing what we are good at. It can be exciting to use one of your strengths to meet a challenge. When you engage in an activity that satisfies you, it is likely that you are using a strength.
- Ease: Another clue to your strengths is the ease with which you can do something. When you are good at something, you usually pick it up pretty fast. Can you think of a time you tried to learn something new and it just seemed to come naturally? You figured it out quickly and with little effort? Rapid learning is a good sign that you were using one of your strengths.
- Excellence: More evidence pointing to your strengths are things you do extremely well. When you really excel at something you can be pretty sure that you are using a strength. Repeated patterns of successful performance are most likely to occur when using a strength.
- Energy: Probably the biggest difference between using a strength and using a weakness is that using a strength energizes you while using a weakness drains your energy. You feel invigorated when you are applying a strength.
Another way to uncover your strengths is to take a strengths assessment. There are three assessments that you can complete online to identify your strengths:
- The Values in Action or VIA Inventory of Strengths is a free questionnaire that measure 24-character strengths. They are grouped into six categories: Wisdom and Knowledge, Courage, Humanity, Justice, Temperance, and Transcendence. The survey can be found at www.viasurvey.org.
- The Gallup organization has an assessment call Strengths Finder. This survey measure 34 signature themes, which represent natural ways of thinking and behaving. They can be developed into strengths through practice and acquiring relevant skills and knowledge. For more information, go to www.gallupstrengthscenter.com.
- A third inventory, R2 Strengths Profiler, was developed by the Centre for Applied Positive Psychology. The items in this survey assess 60 strengths based on energy, performance, and use. Results identify realized strengths, unrealized strengths, learned behaviors, and weaknesses. The assessment can be taken at www.cappeu.com/R2StrengthsProfiler.
Adapted from Beyond Happy – Women, Work and Well-Being. Beth Cabrera