“Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.” — Lao Tzu
Finding your strengths is one of the best ways to improve your energy and effectiveness.
If you know your unique combination of strengths, and you play to your strengths instead of focus on your weaknesses, you can dramatically amplify your impact.
Don’t Spend Too Much Time in Your Weaknesses
One of the key things that can hold you back is spending too much time on your weaknesses and not enough time on your strengths.
The better you know your strengths and talents, the better you can pick the right situations or job to leverage your innate abilities.
How do you find your strengths, though? … What are your key strengths?
What are your talents that come easy for you, but are difficult for others? Are you fully leveraging your unique combination of strengths?
In Now, Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. identify 34 key signature themes of strength, based on years of empirical research.
How To Identify Your Strengths
You can go to the authors’ site at StrengthFinder.com – http://strengthsfinder.com/ and take the evaluation. You need a copy of the book, Now, Discover Your Strengths, for an access code to take the evaluation.
You’ll likely recognize a lot of these strengths in yourself. The key isn’t to whittle the list down to your absolute strongest talents. Instead, find the strengths that differentiate you from others and that come easiest for you.
Many of the strengths resonated for me. I took two passes. On my first pass, I made the following list:: Achiever; Arranger; Competition; Deliberative; Developer; Fairness; Focus; Empathy; Ideation; Individualization; Intellection; Learner; Maximizer; Self-assurance; Significant.
On my second, pass, I modified some of my choices and whittled it down to the following five strengths:Achiever; Ideation; Individualization; Maximizer; Self-assurance; Significant
I don’t know that I’ve yet got the precision I need but it’s a start. I plan to ask others for their feedback and to help me find my blind spots. I also plan to take the StrengthsFinder evaluation.
34 Themes of Strengths and Talent
Familiarize yourself with the 34 key themes of strength. If you can identify your top five themes, you can use the information to start cultivating your strengths for personal excellence and stop focusing on weaknesses.
Here are the 34 signature themes of strength according to Buckingham and Clifton:
- Achiever – A relentless need for achievement.
- Activator – “When can we start?” is a recurring question in your life.
- Adaptability – You live in the moment.
- Analytical – “Prove it. Show me why what you are claiming is true.”
- Arranger – You are a conductor.
- Belief – You have certain core values that are enduring.
- Command – You take charge.
- Communication – You like to explain, to describe, to host, to speak in public, and to write.
- Competition – You have a need to outperform your peers.
- Connectedness – You know that we are all connected.
- Context – You look back to understand the present.
- Deliberative – You identify, assess, and reduce risk.
- Developer – You see the potential in others.
- Discipline – Your world needs to be ordered and planned.
- Empathy – You can sense the emotions of those around you.
- Fairness – Balance is important to you.
- Focus – Your goals are your compass.
- Futuristic – “Wouldn’t it be great if …” The future fascinates you.
- Harmony – You look for areas of agreement.
- Ideation – You are fascinated by ideas.
- Inclusiveness – “Stretch the circle wider.” You can to include people and make them feel like part of the group.
- Individualization – You’re intrigued by the unique qualities of each person.
- Input – You collection information – words, facts, books and quotations.
- Intellection – You like to think. You like mental activity.
- Learner – You love to learn.
- Maximizer – Excellence, not average, is your measure.
- Positivity – You are generous with praise, quick with smile, and always on the look out for the positive in the situation.
- Relater – You derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends.
- Responsibility – You take psychological ownership for anything you commit to, and you feel emotionally bound to follow it through to completion.
- Restorative – You love to solve problems.
- Self-assurance – You have faith in your strengths.
- Significance – You want to be very significant in the eyes of other people.
- Strategic – You sort through clutter and find the best route.
- Woo – You win others over.
Here are my key takeaways:
- Identify your signature strengths. Don’t just know what you’re good at. Identify what you are great at. This difference makes all the difference in the world.
- Be your best. The key here is to be your personal best. This is why modeling somebody else’s success may not come easy for you. You may not have the same strengths.
- Cultivate your strengths. The key is to focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses. Reducing your weaknesses is not the path to greatness. Improving your key strengths is your personal path to excellence.
- Use the sum of your talents. It’s not about having a single strength, it’s about using the synergy of your strengths.
- Find a fit for your strengths. Leveraging your strengths turns your work into passion. What’s work for somebody else is your play if you find the right way to leverage your unique talents.
- Amplify your results with your network. Once you know your key strengths, you can find the people that complement you in strengths that you lack.
The Marcus Buckingham Company
Marcus Buckingham (Wikipedia)