If there is one strategy that comes close to being a silver bullet for almost anything you want to achieve, it’s to use your strengths. It’s so important that I also covered it in my previous series on how to have great ideas.
In this article, I’ll cover the vital importance of using your strengths, and simple steps you can take to help yourself and others identify and apply your strengths in new ways.
Why is it important to use your strengths?
We all, as individuals, leaders, managers and teams, tend to spend far too much time focusing on what’s going wrong, what’s not working well, what’s hard or difficult, and our weaknesses and failings.
It’s not just uninspiring or draining, this negative focus actually gets in the way of us doing our best work, and getting great results.
But, when we know and understand our strengths, and how to use them strategically, we can build and sustain our energy, engagement and achievement.
Let’s start by defining strengths. We’re not talking muscles here; we’re talking about human capabilities to interact with the inner and outer world. They fall into six groups:
- Essence: our way of being
- Cognition: our way of thinking
- Action: our way of getting things done
- Relationship: our way of connecting with others
- Communication: our way of receiving and sharing information
- Moderation: our way of setting and adhering to limits
There are two key characteristics of strengths:
- We are good at them, and
- They energise us
If you’re good at something, but it doesn’t energise you, then it’s not a “strength” in the sense that I am using the word. For these, I use the term “de-energiser”. That’s because, if it’s not giving you energy, then it is draining your energy, so you’ll eventually become de-energised by it.
If you’re interested in learning more about strengths, weaknesses and de-energisers (also called “learned behaviours”), check out these pages and articles:
Strengths and other strategies
The thing I love the most about the “use your strengths” strategy is that it fits brilliantly with, and supercharges, all the other strategies in this series. That’s why the graphic for this series has “use your strengths” as the circle that encompasses all the other strategies.
The other strategies we’ve covered so far in this series are:
- Align actions to your vision
- Set goals and track progress
- Involve others
- Get a coach
You can use your strengths with each of these strategies, and also help those around you use their strengths too. The beauty of this approach is that everyone gets more energy, engagement and achievement, without any extra effort – now that’s win-win!
Do you know what your strengths are?
It’s hard to use your strengths if you aren’t sure what they are.
One of the most fun aspects of strengths discovery sessions that I run is the moment when my client looks at me and says “Wait, is that a strength? I thought everyone could do that!”
We don’t all have the same strengths (or weaknesses). And that’s something to be grateful for – I love the fact that my accountant enjoys being meticulous with detail. Because my tax administration wouldn’t go well if it was left to me! And I also know that some of the things I’m good at, she isn’t. And who know, there might come a day when I can use my strengths to help her out.
So, how do you work out what your strengths are? Here’s a few ideas:
- Strengths-spot. Identify activities where time seems to fly. You feel “in the zone” and get work done without feeling bored or exhausted.
- Ask for feedback. Your friends, family, boss and colleagues will know some strengths that you aren’t aware of – let them share that knowledge.
- Take the VIA survey. This free online survey covers 24 “character strengths”.
- Get your Strengths Profile. This online assessment sets our your strengths, weaknesses and learned behaviours – I offer a range of packages to help you get the most out of your Strengths Profile.
- Engage a strengths coach. I offer a range of tools and exercises tailored to your needs. They help you identify your strengths and use them strategically to boost your energy, engagement and achievement.
Book your complimentary discovery call to talk about how we can work together to boost your strengths.
Or pop over to my Contact page if you want to get in touch by phone or email.
How can you use your strengths for great results?
Knowing what your strengths are is a great first step. But the fun and results really start when you know how to put your strengths into practice.
We often get so used to the way things are, and the work we do each day, that it might not be immediately obvious how we can use our strengths to get great results.
And sometimes we aim too high, thinking that we must need to change jobs entirely to use our strengths more strategically. But that’s not the case at all! We can start right here and now, with what we’re doing today.
Four ways you can use your strengths wisely today
- Use your strengths to help you with something you aren’t good at.
- Dust off a neglected strength and use it in a new way.
- Use your strength to assist someone else.
- Dial down a strength you’re overusing
Use your strengths to help you with something you aren't good at
Let’s say you have to give a speech, but being centre-stage drains you. Do you have a strength of humour, or storyteller? Use these strengths to help you give the speech.
Dust off a neglected strength and use it in a new way
Think of some things you used to love doing, but haven’t done in a while. How can you use your strengths in a new way this week?
Imagine you have the strength of being courageous, but you’ve been hanging out in your comfort zone for a while. Perhaps you could try a new hobby, introduce yourself to someone at an event, or ask your boss for an opportunity to take on some extra responsibility.
Use your strengths to assist someone else
Is there someone on your team who struggles with something that comes easily for you? Offer to lend them your strength. Maybe they’re putting together an event but they shy away from the meet and greet. If you are a fantastic rapport builder, why not offer to be on the welcoming committee? You never know which strengths they’ll be able to lend you!
Dial down a strength that you are overusing
More isn’t always better. If you rely too heavily on a strength, we can burn ourselves and others. For example, if you are always decisive, you could overbalance into becoming dictatorial, or you might abdicate decision-making altogether because you’re frustrated at always having to make decisions. Instead, delegate the responsibility for some decisions to others, so you can bring out your decisive strength when it will add the most value.
Use the Strengths Deck to look for more opportunities
The words in italics in the above section are some of the 75 strengths that you’ll find in my Strengths Deck. It’s a fun and engaging way to explore your strengths and learn how to make the most of them.
You can use the Strengths Deck in a coaching session with me, on your own, or with your boss, colleagues and team. It’s great for reminding you of strengths you’d forgotten about, as well as discovering hidden talents. It will also help you learn about the strengths of those around you. Then, together, you can use your strengths to achieve more than any of you could alone.
My coaching services
I’m an experienced and result-driven coach, and would love to chat with you about working together. Check out my Coaching page to learn more.
My approach is strengths-based, and built on a positive psychology foundation. That means that I help you discover your strengths, what you’re great at, and the resources you already have available. From there, I support you to create and implement a do-able action plan that’s aligned with your goals. And I’ll help you hold yourself accountable, stay on-track, and achieve the results you really want.
I offer a free, no-obligation 30-minute discovery call where we’ll talk about where you’re at, what you want to achieve, and how I can help you to seize your opportunities and unleash your potential. Just click on the button to make your booking in less than a minute.
If you’d like to learn more about generating ideas, check out the companion to this series, ‘How to have great ideas‘. It has ten science-backed strategies to help you generate great ideas that will start you on the journey to great results.
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