Think about a major achievement you are most proud of, that energised you when you were completing it. It may be something you already look forward to potentially doing again. Have you ever wondered whether you could repeat such success but are not sure what ingredients or circumstances are required to make it so? Was it pure luck or were you just in the right place and at the right time?
More than likely, you accessed something deep inside you, that you were naturally good at and didn’t have to learn or master. You also probably brought something unique to the table that no one else could. In all likelihood, this ‘something’ was actually a ‘strength’ you’ve always had, but just couldn’t articulate or know when and how to use.
The Science of Strengths
The study of individual character and associated strengths has a strong scientific foundation. Far from being a self-help pop psychology fad, it falls under the academic endeavour of ‘Positive Psychology’ – a field devoted to helping people develop a good approach to the many challenges of work and life.
Strengths are individual differences that are stable and general, but can also be shaped by the environment and capable of change. It is not specific to situations, neither good or bad, and can help you achieve desired results. 'Competitiveness' for example is not classified as a strength, as it may be a great attribute to have in the sporting field or work, but would make little sense at home and even potentially be detrimental. A strength should also not be mixed up with a skill or competence. Skills are something you learn and competence is the application of that knowledge. Strengths on the other hand, are innate to you.
Once you’ve identified your strengths,you will be able to leverage it and use its momentum to succeed when the next opportunity arises. Some are going to be obvious, while others are yet to be realised. Once the latter is developed, it can be added to the pool of resources you can draw upon for further growth.
It would be remiss to discount individual weaknesses as a weighing factor, when thinking about strengths and the capacity for growth. People are however often already well versed in identifying them. There is also a strong understanding of the pressing need to address them, if someone wishes to progress further in their life or career. The exponential growth of the self-help movement is testament to this.
Weaknesses though do not in of themselves help you to move forward. Fixing it will help plug potential gaps in the professional or personal capacities available to you, but it is not something you can draw on to get from point A to B. An investment in your strengths on the other hand, will be inherently rewarding and motivating. It will give you disproportionately larger gains, especially when you consider the amount of discipline, perseverance and motivation required just to overcome your weaknesses.
Application to the Workplace
Your ability to identify and develop your strengths will help you progress in life and the workplace, at an organisational and individual level.
Consider what it means when an organisation refers to its culture. Organisational culture is essentially an abstraction of the specific characteristics of individuals that work within that environment – translated into expected individual behaviours or attributes. For you to be a ‘good fit’ within such an environment, you will likely need to possess similar strengths to those already working there. This is exactly why human resource personnel are involved in the recruitment process. It is also why, even if someone has the specific skills or competence to do a job on paper, they may be rejected at an interview. A lack of ‘emotional intelligence’ for example in a highly social, people oriented organisation where relationships are prioritised, will likely be detrimental to achieving results.
With the rapid transition of roles and industries in the modern world, it is also likely you will
have to learn to transition to a different role, industry or career sooner rather than later. To be able to identify the right opportunities that allow you to maximise your chances of success, you need to understand when you are at your best and when you are not. Knowing your specific strengths is a powerful starting point.
Endorse Sheet has included an individual strengths assessment in its portfolio of employment tools for Pro and Premium subscribers. Scientifically validated, it provides you with details of your Top 5 strengths. The assessment also tells you how identified strengths are exhibited in people high and low in them, what the consequences are when you possess a strength and how to develop less pronounced ones further. Sign up now.