Thursday, May 6th, 2010...1:17 am

Two Secrets To Discovering Your Strengths

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Strengths are a fundamental part of a career path that fits. Whether you are in the process of making a career change or committed to your current career path, aligning your work with your strengths will lead to greater fulfillment and success.

Martin Seligman, one of the pioneers of positive psychology states, “I do not believe that you should devote overly much effort to correcting your weaknesses. Rather, I believe that the highest success in living and the deepest emotional satisfaction comes from building and using your signature strengths.”

When your career is aligned with your strengths, it feels natural, even effortless. Your work flows out of a deeper part of yourself, beyond just learned abilities and skills. You still have to work hard but it feels authentic.

Animals are a great example of authentic strengths alignment. Every animal that I can think of exists (and is “successful”) because its way of life is aligned with its core strengths. A hawk and an egret serve as good examples. A hawk’s strengths are its vision, powerful talons, and agility. Accordingly, it hunts (goes to work) by hovering high above grasslands and open spaces. It uses its amazing vision to sight rodents and its swift flight and strong talons to make the kill. An egret’s strengths are its long sharp beak, long neck, and long legs. It hunts by standing still on its long legs in shallow water, waiting for a fish to swim by so that it can thrust its long neck forward and spear the fish with its long beak. Can you imagine what would happen if an egret went to work in the open grasslands, trying to swoop down and catch mice with its webbed feet or long beak? I think its safe to say that it wouldn’t be very successful. The same goes for a hawk trying to stalk it’s prey in a marsh.

But… animals have it easy in this respect. They don’t have the same challenge of discovering their strengths and choosing the right career. They are born into their life’s work. We, as humans, have more of a challenge. We have to discover our strengths and choose a career that fits. It’s not as easy as looking at our physical features to identify our strengths. We need a way of seeing ourselves, particularly our strengths, that goes beneath the surface. The big question is: How do you discover your strengths? Here are two strengths discovery methods that have worked especially well in my new career coaching group and with individual clients.

1st Secret to Discovering Your Strengths: Past Successes & Accomplishments

1. Think of three or more experiences in which you accomplished something that you considered to be a success or did something that you were proud of yourself for doing. These experiences don’t have to be successes to anyone but you. They could be singular accomplishments like completing a project or recurring themes that show up throughout your life. For example, I consider the many times that I helped my friends find their way through personal challenges to be successes that made good use of my strengths. These weren’t stand out accomplishments but rather recurring themes that held a lot of meaning.

2. After you have identified three successes, accomplishments, or experiences that you are proud of, pinpoint the strengths that you used to make each one of those experience a success. Write a separate list of strengths for each experience so that
you can start to see which strengths show up more than once.

2nd Secret To Discovering Your Strengths Activity: Ask “Your People”

Ask the people that know you well in professional and personal situations (friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, etc.) to answer the following questions about the strengths that they see in you. I recommend asking a total of five people so that you get a complete picture of what strengths other people see in you.

  1. What do you see as my strengths?
  2. How do you imagine me applying and utilizing these strengths in a career?

There are numerous other ways to discover your strengths that we use in our career coaching groups and individual sessions. If these methods don’t work for you, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have strengths. Everyone has strengths. Everyone has an innate gift. Give us a call to learn more about other methods for discovering your strengths.

“You already possess everything necessary to become great” – Crow Native American Indian Saying

After discovering your strengths, the next step to moving forward on a career path that fits is to identify careers that are aligned with your strengths, or redesign your existing career to make better use of your strengths. Knowing your strengths isn’t going to do anything for you or anyone else unless you apply them in a meaningful way. Give us a call to explore how to find the right career that is aligned with your strengths or how to evolve your current job into a career path that capitalizes on your strengths. We offer a free thirty minute phone consultation – sign up on our website.

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” - Martha Graham

Leave a comment to let us know what you discover.

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