Updated: Aug 10
Are you able to name your strengths and articulate how you use them?
Most of us have a much easier time identifying our weaknesses. That was definitely the case for me.
I believe this is for two reasons.
The brain has a strong negativity bias, meaning we pay much more attention to what is wrong with us rather than what's right. This is because the brain evolved for survival and is focused on dangers that need to be addressed. We take for granted those things that we do well because we don't need to fix them, and instead concentrate on areas that need improvement. It’s understandable why we do this, but it means our view of ourselves can be distorted.
We often take our most powerful talents for granted, and many of us may not be fully aware of them. The ways in which you most naturally think, feel and behave as a unique individual are such a dominant part of you that they are always there — everywhere you go and in everything you do. But because your greatest talents are such a natural part of you, they might be harder for you to pinpoint than they are for others.
The importance of knowing your strengths
Your strengths are value you bring to the world.
This may sound obvious, but your strengths are unique to you.
Prior to doing my own work to better identify my strengths, I remember thinking about my ability to read other people’s body language/emotions as something that everyone must be able to do because it came so easily to me. I soon learned that this was not the case.
When I was making a career pivot, this was one of the talents I knew I wanted to incorporate into my work on a daily basis. As a coach, empathy is something I get to use every day with clients. My awareness of people’s emotions can help them feel comfortable sharing their own thoughts and feelings. This can help them have huge breakthroughs.
Find the best opportunities for you and differentiate yourself.
When you understand your strengths, you have more self-awareness. This enables you to identify the types of tasks, responsibilities, and roles that align with your strengths. You can evaluate which areas of work energize you, where you excel, and where you can make the biggest impact.
In a competitive job market, it's important to stand out from other candidates. By showcasing your expertise and achievements, in areas that align with the position, you demonstrate your value and suitability for the role.
Knowing your strengths can provide clues to why you feel stuck.
There has been a lot of research done around the relationship between job satisfaction and engaging with your strengths. According to a study conducted by Gallup, “People who use their strengths every day are 6x as likely to be engaged on the job.” This positive work experience enhances your motivation, productivity, and overall happiness in your career.
Once you discover your strengths, you can check in on where and how you are using them. Are you able to apply them to your work on a daily basis? If you are feeling unmotivated or unfulfilled in your job, you may realize that it is because you are not tapping into those strengths on a regular basis.
A client of mine was feeling frustrated and exhausted in her role as a program manager and wanted to find a new job. She was a practical and realistic thinker and when improvements needed be made, she could address them in a thoughtful way. She took her time to build relationships and understand the needs of key stakeholders before acting. She had great results and people appreciated working with her.
She was told by her manager countless times that she needed to be more of a risk taker and that she didn’t seem to want to “win” badly enough. She tried to adapt but was struggling to work in this way that wasn’t aligned with her strengths. This caused her to feel a lack of confidence in her abilities.
Ask yourself if your position allows you to lead with your strengths. If your position forces you to consistently use your weaknesses, you’re going to struggle. There is a chance you will see improvement, but who wants to always focus on developing that which you may never become a strength.
Engaging with your strengths will help increase your clarity and confidence.
This is a significant shift for a lot of people. When you start to focus on your strengths – being aware of them, applying them, and developing them – the conversation starts to change. Taking work and career as an example, the reframe becomes about what you have to offer and the kind of impact you want to make. When you feel confident in your abilities, you are also more likely to make a positive impression on potential employers.
Applying and developing your strengths is key to advancement.
Research shows that people who recognize and regularly use their strengths are more successful at work.
While it’s important to be aware of your talents, it is essential to develop them so they become strengths. The more you can build your strengths, the greater likelihood for engagement and potential for advancement.
By repeatedly applying your talents in various situations, you develop a deeper understanding and expertise in those areas. You also may feel more motivated to take on challenges and pursue opportunities that allow you to utilize and further develop your strengths.
Your exceptional performance and expertise in specific areas make you a prime candidate for taking on responsibilities that align with your strengths. By demonstrating your competence and making valuable contributions, you can position yourself for leadership positions, allowing for further growth and advancement
What to do next if you don't know your strengths
There are many reasons (even more than I shared) it is important to know your strengths whether you are looking to apply for a new job, advance or find more fulfillment in your career.
If you don’t feel comfortable that you can identify or articulate them, take some time to dig deeper into what makes you tick. You can self-assess, ask people that know you well, or leverage online tools such as the Gallup or VIA online assessments.
If you need help doing identifying your strengths, check out my free, virtual workshop on June 8th at 12 pm ET.