Knowing your strengths is your key to finding work you love and you’re successful at, yet, identifying those strengths is not always as easy as sitting down with a piece of paper and listing a few qualities. If, like many of us, you’re struggling to see your own strengths, read on.
Some people see strengths as something we’re naturally good at, but I prefer Marcus Buckingham’s definition: “A strength is an activity that makes you feel strong.” The more you use your strengths, the more energised you feel, which enables you to become better at it with less effort. Being good at something is not enough to call it a strength. If it drains you, then it’s a weakness.
Pay attention to your energy levels
Following this definition, notice how you feel when you’re performing different tasks throughout the day. What sparks excitement? What makes you feel good about yourself? What would you be doing all day if you had the opportunity? After paying attention for a week or so, you will probably notice a thread emerging. You may be feeling at your best when taking care of others or coming up with ideas, or creating something with your hands.
Ask your friends
Sometimes it’s hard to identify our strengths, because they come to us so naturally that we don’t even notice them, just like we don’t notice ourselves breathing most of the time. Ask people who know you well to tell you what they most value about you and what they think makes you unique. Some of the answers are bound to surprise you. When I did this exercise for the first time, I remember thinking: “Really, not everyone does this? Other people don’t think this way?” No, they don’t.
Take a strength assessment test
There are lots of strength assessment tests you can find online and one of the most popular ones is Gallup’s StregthsFinder 2.0, which I have found very helpful – not only it gives you your top strengths, but also ideas on how to bring more of them into your life. Assessments are also good because they give you the language to describe your strengths, which comes handy when you’re answering job interview questions.
Once you discover your strengths, look for ways to implement them in your daily life. The more you use them, the more you will start seeing new ways to apply your strengths and most importantly, you will feel happier and more fulfilled.