Find Your Strengths and become more successful than you ever thought possible.
Why work against them?
To begin, a quote from Benjamin Franklin who truly understood the importance of finding out what you do best in the best way you do it!
Hide not your talents they for use were made, what use is a sundial in the shade
You need to find your strengths if you want to successfully design a career around who you are and what you are good at and want to work at.
If you want the perfect fit that is?
If you don’t find those strengths and work with them and end up fighting against them instead and your work life will be one big struggle.
In fact, you might be feeling that in your current employment situation, which is why nothing really feels like the right fit.
You might only be using a couple of strengths but not enough of your talents to make your work enjoyable enough?
In modern life, positive psychology is all the rage, and I don’t mind it at all in the right circumstances however, any quote that reads along the lines of...
You can be anything you want to be if you just try hard enough
really isn’t helping people at all, because it makes people think hard work is all they need.
Most of us end up moulding ourselves to fit the job description rather than creating our own and we end up feeling a bit less of a person than we should be.
We beat ourselves up when we struggle with our weaknesses instead of praising ourselves and building up strengths instead
And I learned something interesting from a book on my bookshelf recently and found it a complete revelation.
What do you think about this as an alternative way to frame things instead?
Weaknesses are strengths in the wrong environment
I thought it was genius!
Now, doesn’t that immediately make you feel better?
At last, not some advice to try harder at what you don’t like doing much and will always fail to master no matter how long or how hard you try.
I learned this from the lovely Marianne Cantwell, she has written a great book call Be A Free Range Human and she talks about how to get off the treadmill and become the person you really want to be with a career to match.
She believes we go through life masking our strengths and constantly trying to improve our weaknesses, to no avail, so why not just change the environment.
I absolutely love that way of looking at the world
If you struggle to find your strengths, perhaps if you look at your perceived weakness instead, and flip your world view, you might find this approach more helpful.
Marianne explains it better.
She uses herself as an example when she was originally in corporate job land but has gone on to create a very successful coaching company.
“I changed career back in the job world.
I thought I had a huge weakness of constantly wanting to change how things were done.
I came up with new ideas all the time for how we could improve the status quo.
My boss wasn’t interested; he wanted me to focus on the job at hand, which had nothing to do with creating change.
My constant need to make things better and better – and never settling for average – was a weakness when I was supposed to keep things ticking over quietly.
Then, I changed career into consultancy.
Suddenly, my job was to see how things could be done differently, push the status quo, to come up with big ideas.
That old weakness, which I had spent years trying to keep down, became strength businesses were paying a lot of money for”
Doesn't that make so much more sense?
I think that is a brilliant explanation how to find your strengths by looking at your perceived weakness instead
Your own personal list of strengths and weaknesses can be viewed from a very different perspective and in a much more positive light.
I feel that is so much easier on the soul than conventional wisdom.
Stop beating yourself up and find the right environment instead.
Someone else who agrees...is
Or as he calls it, Finding Your Element, another great read.
If you are interested in another proponent of this method I would suggest you consider the work of Sir Ken Robinson, he believes the schools system in many countries would work so much better for children if only they could follow the Find Your Strengths model instead of being pigeon holed into academic or not academic.
This process of course, has an enormous knock-on effect into adult life and the reason many of us stay stuck our whole life because we can't seem to access our talents easily or see how they could really fit into the world of our work.
If you have children, he is a must see in my opinion at least to explore his point of view as an option.
I am glad you asked.
Let me explain this because a lot of people mistake their skills for their strengths and keep plugging away at becoming better at them.
Wouldn’t you prefer your life to be a bit more effortless?
So here is, I hope a simple explanation and you might want to write it down somewhere
A skill is something you can do and can be learned
A strength is something you are and it is part of your very being
Like empathy or you like learning or you have discipline
You can’t hide your strengths; they just naturally show up
It is something you be, do and are daily throughout your life and they are not something you can learn or take a class in.
They are generally the same from being a young person to being an older person and have nothing to do with being an introvert or an extrovert.
They are the theme of who you are & how you approach the world
It is important to understand this distinction because you will then understand, when I say build a career around your strengths, I am not saying build it around your skills alone
You can be great at your skills but if you don’t like using them or don’t incorporate skills along with your strengths you will find the career you are attempting will become an uphill task and you will grow to hate it.
To make things clearer let me give you, as defined by the Strengths Finder - Find Your Strengths Test, a list of all 34 of them.
You might be able to spot yours immediately.
I will say, I had a go pre-test to try and pick out mine and I was totally wrong!
If you are serious about finding your strengths, you will do better if you take the Clifton Strengths Test as it is also known, yourself.
If you desperately need to find a list of strengths and weaknesses, which may be relevant to you, use these examples of strengths and then pick the opposite.
To take the test, also known as the Gallup Strengths Test, you buy the book and the code is inside.
Top Tip: I often buy books second-hand on amazon but on this occasion don’t by this one used.
A second-hand copy of the book has probably got a used code in the back from the previous owner and therefore no good to you.
Also be advised, there are several different books covers I have noticed but the book was updated in 2007 and I haven't seen one any later than that.
It should be the 2.0 version.
Are you itching to find your strengths now?
Let me share my own results with you for context.
If I give you my top 5 strengths it might help you understand a bit more about how they fit into my working life.
Bearing in mind I am in the world of career change and small business ideas and helping people design their working life around who they are, I think my strengths are perfect for what I do.
I am not writing the whole descriptions here, just very briefly picking out phrases that illustrate the point about how I am working with my strengths and not against them.
Your own test will have more in depth information about your top 5 strengths
I am not surprised to come out on top with Empathy at all. A perfect strength for me to understand what people are feeling when they are struggling with jobs they hate as I truly understand the emotions and have felt them deeply myself.
I need to learn to keep up with the world of work and business, and so being a learner is a fantastic strength for me.
Doing research helps me help others and I LOVE doing it.
Such an important strength for me to have in this line of work, tailor made in fact because anyone who knows me well will say I actively encourage people to think about things differently and I am deeply interested about the start of people’s projects such as their bold career change and small business ideas
I can’t help others if I don’t collect knowledge as I go or share information or answer questions.
I am deeply inquisitive about the world of work and really want to help people like you see a different sort of picture for life if they are seeking one.
I used this a lot in my corporate jobs but nothing else which is why I burned out each year and had to find a new job.
I wrote about this on my about me page...
I think this describes me and my mission to help people create a better work life using who they are and how they want to live their life as a framework to a T.
It is my life purpose in a nutshell
On a final note, what do you make of this bit of a statement? It is roughly right…
This made me really sit and think for quite a while after I heard it, I thought it quite profound. I hope you don't find it too odd!
And I am sorry I cannot remember where it came from.
Think about your parents, and when they got together, you were the one that made the cut. You were the winning sperm, so it is your duty to come into this world and do something positive with your life because you were the lucky one
I think they have a point; we are lucky, and we shouldn’t waste our talents.
Go find your strengths and be a brilliant person in this world because there are a group of people in this world who need to hear from you and only you by way of your specific strength and skills done in your specific way.
And you can learn about more examples of where to find your strengths here, there are 9 other options about yourself to look at.
Remember, you made the cut for a reason...and a whole bunch of people are waiting to learn from you, so make a point of finding your strengths sooner rather than later.
We are waiting for you to show up.
We need you