In this 3 part b-mails on your strengths, I want to help you begin the journey to identify, grow and use your strengths and talents to help you clarify your direction, maximise your potential and fulfil your ambitions and dreams in all parts of your life. I want to balance what I recommend with a price tag with some free options to ensure you can all identify your strengths today. As well as, seeking a balance of things you can do alone plus how I might be able to help.
So to part 1: identify your strengths.
Let’s take stock a moment: what go you here craving a change? It could have been a “final straw” experience, a glimpse of another way or a gut feeling that there’s a mismatch between your life, work or play with your best self. By identifying your strengths, you take the pain and the guesswork out of what and how to change plus you reduce the likelihood of discomfort in making and living the change.
Game of two halves:
When you’re at your best, time flies by without you noticing. It goes dark outside. You forget to eat or drink. You could go on forever. You can sit holding a pee for the longest time. All because you’re in flow, engrossed by what you’re doing or who you are being.
Take a piece of paper, fold in half. Considering all aspects of your life (work, play, exercises, socialising and so on), jot or draw on the left side, those experiences where you are at your best. Tasks, activities, roles, functions, values and emotions you’re embodying. On the right, the opposite, times when you are at your worst – those experiences that you dread, bore you, exhaust you.
On both sides, try to include the knowledge, actions, behaviours and attitudes you draw on.
Now ask yourself:
- What consistently appears when I’m at my best?
- What consistently appears when I’m at my worst?
- Anything missing?
- List what your excel at on both sides. These are your strengths.
Hang on….both sides? Yes. You will have strengths that you utilise even when times are bad or challenging – these may form part of what you take forward. For example, at my worst I take decisions rapidly without the full picture or consultation– this serves me well if the situation calls for this, e.g. when the unexpected drops in and someone needs to pragmatically move things forward. I don’t enjoy it and it doesn’t make me feel great, however I know others value this.
Ask me a question and I’ll tell you no lies:
Bringing in the people in your life can be really valuable in identifying your strengths. They know you well and will only have your interests at heart. (PS bonus – they feel good being involved and you help manage their resistance)
If you feel comfortable doing this in person, just ask what they value and admire about how you go about things and what you do. Take a note of the verbs, nouns and adjectives they use to describe you.
If you’d rather have a spot of confidentiality, for example with peers at work, you could do this using a simple Google doc or Survey Monkey type questionnaire.
Once you’ve gather a number of responses, rank the reoccurring strengths. Don’t overlook people and technical skills or knowledge.
Your starter for ten:
My 3 go-to resources to increase your awareness of your personality and character preferences and strengths:
VIA Character Strengths Questionnaire – using positive psychology theories by Martin Seligmann, this tool is available free + paid for versions.
Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath – buy the book and you’ll get an access code to do the online test OR bypass the book and pay for ~£6/$10 the basic test or ~£56/$90 for the full test here.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – This well-known, international tool is brilliant at exploring and uncovering your preferences in relation to work, problems, life and people. You can find lots of free versions of this or I can arrange an online OPP questionnaire and report with 30 minute debrief.
With all 3 of these, I would recommend you review or complete this with a qualified practitioner. Why? Exploring and understanding your results requires an external perspective to get the most out of them, to consider your mindset when completing it and help related them to your life holistically.
Wow! Aren’t you brilliant! And so unique! And such valuable strengths!
Any surprises? Think of these as being in your blind spot – you may not consider some things as strengths if they come to you naturally with little effort, but others do.
Final challenge in part 1: bring everything together – what are your top 5 “doing” strengths and your top 5 “being” strengths? I’d love to know what your strengths are and if you had any surprises – tell me your strengths and any surprises in the comments.
Next week’s b-mail: grow your strengths, followed by part 3: use your strengths