It has been said that if you only focus on your weaknesses, the best you can be is average. But if you focus on your strengths, your best is limitless and entirely unique to you.
We live in a culture that tends to be defined by “what’s not enough?” We tend to compare ourselves to the people around us and constantly attempt to do better than they do. We also devote a lot of attention to our own shortcomings. We want to look different from what we see in the mirror, weigh different from what we see on the scale, do more, have more, be more. While it is certainly important to recognize how far away we are from our own ideal self, let’s measure that by our own standards and not by reference to some Photoshopped images of models and the projected lives and personas of celebrities. We need to grow as human beings, but we must not do so at the expense of not being on our own journey utilizing our strengths. Let’s not trade “rocking our strengths” for “fixing our perceived weaknesses.” Oftentimes we are so caught up in our weaknesses that we struggle to even identify our strengths. Recognizing and using our strengths is crucial to our wellbeing and the fulfillment of our life’s purpose can be of benefit to those around us, and can contribute to changing the world for the better
How do you begin to identify your strengths and use them?
1. Ask People You Trust. “What am I doing right?” is a great question that is seldom asked when seeking feedback. We tend to only ask “How can I do better?” Take some time to ask people what you’re already doing well.
Ask people from different parts of your life—including family members, friends, coworkers, supervisors, classmates, teachers, and neighbors—to ensure that the responses you’re getting reflect your whole self and not just certain aspects of yourself. The people in our lives can often recognize our strengths more easily than we can, as we tend to be our own harshest critics. One particularly effective exercise, based on research conducted at the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan, is to have some of your trusted friends write a story about a time you were at your best. You may have to buy them dinner to do this, but it is well worth it. Once you get some responses, look for commonalities and patterns to determine where your strengths lie.
2. Take Accredited Online Assessments. There are several free tools that you can find online that can help you identify your strengths. Some of these assessments include the Personal Strengths Inventory, the Brief Strengths Test, the Meaning in Life Questionnaire, and the VIA Strength Survey. The results of these assessments can help shed light on your talents and skills.
3. Pay Attention to What Excites You. Typically when you’re engaging in tasks that you’re good at, it is apparent in your body language and temperament. Think about those tasks that make you feel motivated and energized, that make you smile, and that put you “in the zone.” These are all indications that you’re using one of your strengths.
According to research by renowned positive psychologist Martin Seligman, knowing your strengths is associated with feeling happier and less depressed. However, simply knowing your strengths is not enough. Unless you have a plan for putting your strengths to good use, these feelings won’t last. You can put your strengths into action with Konversai—the world’s greatest database of personal strengths. With Konversai, you can connect with people who are aligned with your strengths—either providers of knowledge who can help you improve or seekers of knowledge whom you can teach and with whom you can share your skills. You can even get paid to do so. So what are you waiting for? Join Konversai today and notice your life and the lives of others improve. When we use our strengths productively, we play an important part in creating a more positive cultural climate for all.