Studio 5 Contributor and Franklin Covey Senior Consultant, Fatima Doman says focusing on your "true" strengths can change your life.
Learning to use our strengths is self-sustaining because people enjoy using their best assets. Unlike overcoming weaknesses, which can be motivationally challenging to the best of us, applying strengths is fun and rewarding. That's why many studies show that building on strengths is more effective than trying to improve weaknesses. People need to "fit" with their work environments. The opportunity to use one's strengths at work creates the perception of an enjoyable, rather than hostile environment for the individual. One looks forward to going to work each day.
A list of 24 character strengths has been developed by renowned psychologists Seligman and Peterson. Using rigorous criteria, they were able to rule out skills and talents such as the ability to sing while identifying true "strengths" such as creativity, integrity, leadership and persistence. Their criteria was that the strength, for example, "leadership" must: be valued in its own right, elevate others who witness it, contribute to the good life, and be easy to identify in people who exhibit it.
Find your strengths:
Who are you at your core? What strengths emerge for you? Find your strengths with the following questions:
1. Does the strength feel natural and authentic?
2. Do I desire/seek out opportunities to use the strength?
3. Is it recognized by others and in diverse settings?
4. Do I find it easy/quick to learn new things involving the strength?
5. Do I feel called / destined to use the strength? (improves quality of life for me/others)
Use your strengths to really express what you bring to the table. When you're looking at a new opportunity, ask yourself: Why would someone choose/hire me for this role? What do I bring that is unique and valuable? What motivates, inspires and energizes me? If I had unlimited time and resources, what would I choose to do?
Here's a popular exercise from positive psychology that helps you use your strengths each day in new and unique ways. Studies have shown that doing this exercise increases one's sense of wellbeing and helps better manage depression, and the boost people get from this exercise tends to last about 6 months:
Exercise: Take a look at your top strengths, then use one or two of these strengths in some new or unique way every day for a week. For example; one of my top strengths is love of learning. I think that's why I'm drawn to and enjoy coaching so much. I can make a deliberate effort to use this strength more often by engaging in continual learning, taking classes, reading about varied topics, asking questions, researching, exploring new perspectives, etc.
How to Spot Strengths:
Clear and Quicker Speech
More Direct and to the Point
Good Eye Contact
Eyes Light Up (muscles relax and eyes widen)
Why is it so hard for people to acknowledge their strengths? My friend overheard her ten year old daughter and her friends answering the questions to a quiz in an "American Girl Magazine "the other day. The question was "What do you like best about yourself?" They came up with great responses, but it took them a while to voice them. They seemed hesitant to say something great about themselves. I think often grown women have that same hesitation. This reminds me of Nelson Mandela's inaugural speech, "We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine... It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same." What if all of us learned to find and leverage our strengths? Think about the difference we could make all around us…
Fatima Doman is passionate about coaching others to succeed and in addition to her work with Franklin Covey, runs Ascend Coaching, her personal coaching business.
You can contact Fatima at (435)513-5331