How often over the course of our schooling and careers did we focus on the things we were not good at, and strived to be better at them? More often than not, we hardly acknowledged the things we were good at, our strengths; rather we did not see a need to focus on them given we were already good at them.
This is such FLAWED THINKING!! Instead of focusing on things that we will likely only get marginally better at, would it not be more fun and more productive to focus on the things we were good at already, and look at getting even better? Now THAT is something I would much rather be doing with my time!
In 2001, Donald Clifton and Marcus Buckingham launched their game-changing views on how we should approach our work and life. Now, Discover Your Strengths encouraged us to focus on developing our strong talents and skills, rather than try to fix our weaknesses. In 2010, Tom Rath launched StrengthFinders 2.0, which continues to be the go-to resource for identifying your strengths
The Revolution and game-changer of the Strengthfinders research continues by encouraging us to use our strengths, every day, throughout our careers, volunteering and personal lives. Gone should be the assumption that you should work on improving your weaknesses, rather, by improving the areas you are already strong at, your potential to grow jumps exponentially.
These are the new two assumptions we should govern our growth:
- Each person’s talents are enduring and unique
- Each person’s greatest room for growth are in the areas of his/her’s greatest strengths
Gallup’s definition of a strength is a “consistent near perfect performance in an activity.” You must also be able to derive intrinsic satisfaction from the activity (Discover Your Strengths, pg 26). You will excel by maximizing your strengths rather than fixing your weaknesses.
Buckingham and Clifton highlight examples of people in careers who’s strengths may look different than what is expected from someone in that job. For example, I spent a number of years planning conferences as both a corporate and association meeting planner. I loved my job, but I was seeking something “bigger” than my day-to-day, and I was starting to bore of the vast logistics involved in executing successful events. Enter Strengthfinders. After completing the profile survey and discovering my true strengths, I was able to transition to a role in the meetings industry where I could focus on hotel relationships and meeting contract negotiations (woo) and building a business (achiever). This blog is an excellent example of my input strength.
The definition of a strength is quite specific – consistent near perfect performance in an activity. Talent is any recurring pattern, thought or behaviour that can be productively applied. Skills determine if you can do something; talents reveal something more important: how well and how often you do it (Discover your Strengths, pg 58). Your talents are the most important raw material for strength-building. Identify your most powerful talents, hone them with skills and knowledge and you are well on your way to living a “strong” life (Discover your strengths, pg61).
To reveal your talents, monitor your “spontaneous, top of mind reactions” to situations you encounter. These top-of-mind reactions provide the best traces of your talents. They reveal the location of strong mental connections (Discover Your strengths, Pg67). For example, I do not seek leadership opportunities, however in the absence of leadership in a situation, I can quickly and effectively take leadership and make things happen. This speaks to both my self-assurance and my activator strengths.
Let’s get started!
The team at the Gallup organization identified strengths in 34 different areas. Back when the books were first published, you could take the profile survey using a unique book code. Strengthfinders 2.0 profile survey can now be found online at Gallup’s Strengthsfinder. Once you purchase the book or online profile survey, you can get started! When answering the questions, go with your gut reaction rather than thinking it through too much…. Your gut will lead you to your most accurate strengths profile.
The team at the Gallup organization identified strengths in 34 different areas (I mentioned a couple of mine above, the activator and self-assurance strengths. At the completion of the survey, you will be provided with a list of your top strengths.
I Have My Strengths, Now What?
Once you have your strengths defined, it’ll be time to “act” on them (yes, that’s my activator strength coming out). The books have profiles of all 34 strengths, and “Ideas for Action” for each one. You can also learn more about each strength on Gallup’s YouTube Channel! Such an amazing resource! The talents are going to manifest themselves differently for each person; you and I may possess similar talents, but be quite opposite in how the themes play out in our lives.
One of my strengths is Maximizer – one of the ways it manifests itself is my curiosity on what other people’s strengths are! If you know your top talent, please comment below – I’d love to hear from you! I also showcase the themes in my newsletter, available to subscribers only. Become a subscriber today here.
Continuing the Journey
Your strengths journey doesn’t end after you identify and understand your themes, now is the time to put them into action, in each task, project and career choice you make. This is where the magic happens; you’re going to love how you feel about your day, career and life by exercising your strengths in everything you do.
Enjoy the journey!