The world is slowing waking up to the idea that working with our strengths is a far more enjoyable, interesting and productive approach than focusing on fixing our weaknesses. For the same amount of time and energy, we get far greater results when working with our strengths than trying to drag our weaknesses up to a slightly higher level.
Strengths-based systems and practitioners abound – they’ll help you work out which strengths you’re already using, so you can do more of those things. But what many systems and practitioners miss is the massive opportunity that lives in our unrealised strengths.
What is an unrealised strength?
In the Strengths Profile, an unrealised strength is defined as something that you are good at, that energises you, but you don’t do or use frequently.
Contrast this with a realised strength, which is something you are good at, that energises you, and that you do or use on a regular basis.
Why am I so excited about unrealised strengths?
I was introduced to the concept of unrealised strengths via the fantastic tool that is the Strengths Profile. It is such a powerful concept – being able to apply it in my own life is making a significant and extremely positive difference to the way I live and work.
While I don’t use the terms ‘realised’ and ‘unrealised’ strengths in The Strengths Deck definitions, it is an extremely useful concept for thinking about the way you are using your strengths.
First, a word on realised strengths
Realised strengths are great – they give us a sense of energy, engagement and accomplishment, and because we use them regularly, we get to feel those things frequently. You’re already getting goodness from your realised strengths. And you might not even realise they are strengths, because they feel so natural and normal, it’s hard to believe that not everyone has the same strengths.
Now, about those unrealised strengths
Unrealised strengths, on the other hand, have so much potential to add even more energy, engagement and accomplishment to our lives. How? Well, we don’t use them frequently, so we don’t often get to experience the energy and goodness that they bring. And the beauty of them being unrealised strengths is that we are already good at these things, and they energise us – they are a giant pot of gold, a reservoir of opportunity just waiting for us to dig in!
When we start to use our unrealised strengths, it’s like reaching through a portal to another dimension, with vastly more energy, engagement and accomplishment available to us. Without any significant effort, we can draw on our unrealised strengths and ignite our every endeavour by using what we are already good at.
How do I work out what my unrealised strengths are?
This is a tricky one. Working out our realised strengths is usually pretty easy – we can look at how we work and live, where we get our greatest results, and what makes us “zing”. We can also ask people around us what they see.
But unrealised strengths can fly under the radar – because we aren’t regularly using them, we don’t have many opportunities to identify them. So it can take a long time to uncover them, and it can be really hit-and-miss, particularly if your daily activities don’t naturally lend themselves to expressing your unrealised strengths.
The best way I know how to tease them out is via the Strengths Profile online assessment. The assessment identifies your realised and unrealised strengths, along with your weaknesses and learned behaviours. The greatest value comes when you understand what falls into each category, and how you can work with each category to maximise your energy, engagement and accomplishment.
What do I do once I know what my unrealised strengths are?
First things first: you don’t try to use all of them in one go!
When we’re cooking, we don’t use every single herb and spice in the pantry – we select the right combination that suits the dish we’re making. The same thing goes with strengths – we unleash magic when we select the right combination of realised and unrealised strengths, based on the outcomes we seek.
So, we look at an area of our lives or work where we want some positive change. Then, we review our realised and unrealised strengths, and look for the ones we think are most likely to help us along the way. A great place to start is to pair up an unrealised strength with a realised strength – for example, if you add an unrealised strength of Narrator to a realised strength of Writer, you might practice writing stories where you otherwise might concentrate only on factual, technical reporting.
As with everything in life, this is partly data-driven, partly intuitive, and 100% an experiment. That means that if we don’t get the results we seek from the first combination we try, we go back to our lists, select a new combination, and try again.
Going back to the cooking analogy – when you first start cooking, you can either try out every combination of herbs and spices until you hit on the right combination, or you can seek guidance from experienced chefs, who have already tried the combinations and learned what’s more likely to work well together, and in what proportions.
The same goes with strengths – the mere fact of having a “menu” of strengths to choose from doesn’t automatically guarantee results. Working with a coach who knows and understands the variety of strengths, which ones tend to work well together, and what proportion to use them in gives you a much greater chance of getting the energy, engagement and accomplishment you’re seeking, to ignite your endeavours and achieve your goals.
The 90 second video below has a range of suggestions for how you can use your unrealised strengths more.
Learning about your strengths with The Strengths Deck
Any discussion of personal strengths would be incomplete without me letting you know about The Strengths Deck.
I created it to put the power of strengths in your hands. If you want to learn about your unique strengths fingerprint and how to make the most of your amazing strengths, click the logo to find out more, or make a booking for your free, 30-minute call to talk about how we can get your strengths working for you.
Getting your Strengths Profile
If you’re ready to start your strengths journey to more energy, engagement and accomplishment, let’s talk! I offer three programmes, from getting to know your strengths and how to use them better through to developing and honing them so that they deliver results for you in every area of your life.
Book your complimentary 30-minute discovery session with me today. Just click the button below.
I know that once you start on your strengths journey, you’ll never look at yourself (or other people) the same way again! It really is a transformative tool and I’m excited to share it with you, so that you can experience the results for yourself.