For many years now I have been practicing strengths-based living. The concept of strengths was first introduced to me by my friend and colleague Dr. Wendy Flint. She pointed me in the direction of Gallup’s StrengthsQuest. At the heart of the book is the Internet-based StrengthsFinder® Profile, the product of a 25-year, multimillion-dollar effort to identify the most prevalent human strengths. The program introduces 34 dominant “themes” with thousands of possible combinations, and reveals how they can best be translated into personal and career success.
I took the assessment and my results were intriguing. Some results where “Oh yeah” and others where “Aha..”. What was so exciting to me was that an interest I had always considered as a weakness showed up as my top strength. I had to know more…Of course I did – my top strength is Learner!
The next thing I know I am logging onto Amazon and purchasing the book Now Discover Your Strengths. I read it in less than a day. What I learned was that strengths and talents (gifts) are different. A talent or gift is a naturally occurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied. It is only one of the three “raw materials” that make up a strength. The other two are 1) Skill: the steps of an activity and 2) Knowledge: factual knowledge about something. While skills and knowledge can be acquired, a talent or gift exists naturally within you.
Talent ( A natural way of thinking feeling or behaving) X Investment (Time spent practicing, developing your skills and building your knowledge-base) = Strength ( Ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance).
Now that I understood the anatomy of a strength I was jonesing for more information. This led me to the next book – Go Put Your Strengths to Work. The most valuable part of this six-week, six-part process was to pick a week and capture your emotional reactions to the activities of your week, then clarify and confirm what you captured. When I reflected back on my “I Loved It” reMemo pages I could see all of the things I loved about my job and how they played into my strengths. My challenge was creating my own strong-week plan to include all or some of the things that invigorated me while planning to minimize from my week the things that drained me.
For you non-learners out there this may just sound like ton of work. But I have to tell you that the time I invested in understanding how to maximize my strengths and minimize my weaknesses has propelled me to new heights in both my career and personal life. Over the years I have shared these concepts with hundreds of friends, co-workers and students causing what I believe to be signifiant impact for them as well.
The StrengthsQuest is not the only assessment out there. Marcus Buckingham, one of the authors of the original book, has since parted ways with Gallup and has his own similar version called Standout. Both of these are available for a nominal fee. Join our conversation on Facebook to learn about a FREE Assessment Tool.
Everybody has a talent or gift. Let tomorrow be a stronger day than today.…You’ve always known what your strengths are.You’ve always known what lies within you. So, trust them, be proud of them and take your stand.