Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
Most of us do not. We spend far too much time trying to fix our weaknesses, rather than developing our strengths. Over the years, I’ve definitely been guilty of trying to improve the things I’m not great at instead of building on the best of who I am.
These days I’m focused on what’s right about me vs fixing what’s “wrong”. Phew, such a relief to concentrate on nurturing more of what I’m naturally good at! Now I spend my time and energy on refining and expanding my innate capacities, the areas where I have infinite potential to grow and succeed.
So how did this come about? Well, truly knowing ourselves inside and out can be facilitated by the application a few essential tools and models.
One that I’ve found extremely useful is the Clifton StrengthsFinder, an online assessment that helps people identify, understand and maximize their unique talents.
Donald Clifton, Tom Rath and colleagues at Gallup developed the assessment based on over 50 years of strengths-based research in positive psychology, the scientific study and evidence-based promotion of optimal human functioning.
Clifton asserted that our strengths can be defined as our inherent talents combined with specific knowledge and skills that give us the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance in a specific task.
As such, the Clifton StrengthsFinder results describe our inherent talents, the ways we each naturally think, feel and behave, as well as how to capitalize on this knowledge by further developing our talents into our strengths.
Why does this matter?
Research has shown that people who use their strengths every day are 6 times more likely to be engaged in their work and are 3 times more likely to say they have an excellent quality of life (Gallup).
In the workplace, managers who create environments in which employees are able to make the most of their talents have more productive work units with less employee turnover, resulting in significant gains in employee engagement, productivity, profit, and employee retention (Clifton & Harter, 2003).
It’s useful in academia too: studies show that strengths-based development increases self-confidence, direction, hope, and altruism in college students (Hodges & Clifton, 2004).
At a personal level, based on my own StrengthsFinder profile (Achiever, Learner, Input, Futurist, Competitive), it’s pretty easy to see why I feel good about learning, using and sharing this type of information with you, just because I can and want to, without any other incentive, monetary or otherwise.
By the way, it’s also pretty helpful to know the preferred style of our loved ones. At a recent Christmas gathering, my whole family did the StrengthsFinder assessment. Not only was it a fun family activity; but it now also informs how we now relate to each other with greater understanding and compassion. And, we’ve begun to specifically utilize each others strengths when determining who is responsible for various tasks on a family outing or project.
Since at this point you’re probably ready to know your strengths already, I’ve created this blank StrengthsFinder template for you to capture the key assessment results: your top 5 talents, their key attributes, and some ideas for actions so you can capitalize on developing them into your strengths. Just click on the orange link to download the pdf file.
Print it out and then click on the next orange link to take the assessment: StrengthsFinder.
Remember to have fun with this!
And of course, I always love to hear your feedback, so let me know (in a blog comment or on social media) how this tool helps you in your personal and professional lives!