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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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
There’s been a few people and things that have made lasting impacts on me. All of them (except for my family) happen to me by chance. I would like to share one of them with you in this post.
I was introduced to the StrengthsFinder test three years ago while working at a start-up. The CEO came across the StrengthsFinder book that he found interesting and bought a copy for everybody in the office. The premise of the book is that we benefit more from building on our strengths than working on our weaknesses. Included in the book is an online test that determines and calculates your strengths, an explanation on what the strengths mean, and how to use the strengths accordingly.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was the perfect candidate to embrace the book and its philosophy. The reason was my first and strongest strength — I am a learner. Here is the official explanation of the characteristic of a learner: “People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.”
It was as if a dying star all of a sudden came back into life when I read that! Those two sentences totally explain why I have a boisterous drive to read how-to books, watch how-to TV programs, learn obscure theories and concepts….and when I haven’t learn anything new in a while, I become antsy.
All in all, the test gave me my top five strengths (Learner, Ideation, Command, Activator, Strategic), and each were as revealing about my personality and my drive as the other. I was so in awe of this new found knowledge that I began to dig deeper (again, goes hand-in-hand with my Learner theme) to understand how I can best use my strengths in my career and my life. And what a difference it has made.
So if you are stuck in a rut, especially in your career, you may want to look into taking the StrengthsFinder test yourself. At worst, you will be down a few bucks. At best, you too will find great insights into how to jump start/improve your career and enrich your life. And no, I do not benefit from recommending the book. I do it because I want to share the gold mine.
Update: If you are interested in learning how to define your own strengths, please visit my more recent post here.