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When I first wrote about Strengthsfinder on this blog, I didn’t expect to get so many hits. I’ve always thought I was one of the few who truly believe in understanding and using my strengths to help advance my career and improve my life. I was mildly surprise to find that there are many people who are actively searching for this information as well. So here is my follow up to the original post.

So how exactly do you define your strengths? I believe there are four components to each of your strengths, and you need to answer yes to all four components in order to count them as your strengths:

  1. Are you good at it? This is the first element of strengths and one people most commonly associate with one’s strengths. In order for an activity and/or behavior to be considered your strength, you must have success while executing it. For me personally, one of my strengths is “the ability to learn new concepts and ideas”. The way I define my own success here is to determine whether I am able to learn and then teach the concepts to others who may not be familiar with them. I find I do that with ease and at a pretty good success rate.
  2. Do you have the urge to do it? The second element of strengths is one where you find yourself saying, “I can’t help but do it”. You may not know why, but you find yourself pulled towards the activities repeatedly. Again, using myself as an example, I have an incredible appetite to learn. I can’t explain why I am drawn to the activity of learning, but I can’t stop myself from doing it either.
  3. Do you feel energized while doing it? Using your strengths should always energize you. Activities involving your strengths should feel easy and simple to do. And while you do the activity, you don’t struggle but instead stay focused. More often than not, the time will pass so quickly that you have to remind yourself to stop doing the activities so that you can make room for other necessary tasks. For me, I feel most at ease and powerful when I am reading self-help/how-to books. In fact, I often reread the good ones because I find I can always learn something new.
  4. Is there a sense of fulfillment after the activity? Not only do activities involving your strengths fill your innate needs, they make you feel fulfilled and strong after you’ve completed them. You may feel physically tired but you will never feel psychologically drained. Instead, you will feel satisfied and accomplished. In my case, I always feel ready to tackle the world’s problems after learning something new. It’s an extremely empowering feeling that feeds the cycle and makes me feel the urge to do it all over again.

Using these four criteria, I was able to further define my strengths. For example, I may be have an innate need to pursue knowledge, I am not drawn to all kinds of knowledge. I’ve found the kinds of information I seek to learn (and that energizes me) are related to psychology and sociology. I am always seeking to understand the “whys”, “hows” and “whats” of human behavior, but I couldn’t careless about astronomy, for example. In other words, not all knowledge are created equal for the learner in me.

In any event, I hope you find this post helpful in further defining your strengths. If you want to read more about this topic, please visit SimplyStrengths for more information. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please let me know in the comment box below.

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March 2008