Do You Get to Use Your Strengths in Your Work?


One of the things I'm most grateful for is that I get to use my strengths regularly in my work. Do you?

What is a Strength?

According to Marcus Buckingham, an expert on strengths, the anatomy of a strength is

Talent + Knowledge + Skills = Strength


Talents: innate patterns of thought, feeling or behavior (cannot be learned)

Knowledge: facts and lessons learned

Skills: the steps of an activity. HOW you do something.

According to Tom Rath of Gallup the formula is similar but stated a little differently:

Talent x Investment = Strength


Talents: innate patterns of thought, feeling or behavior (cannot be learned)

Investment: time spent practicing/developing skills and building knowledge 

Why You Should Strive to Work to Your Strengths 

You can be happier and fulfill your greatest potential in your one life to live, that's why. And, you'll do a better job for your employer, to boot. Western society tends to harp on finding and correcting weaknesses and blind-spots. The Strengths Movement seeks to shift that habit: instead of focusing on energy and time on CORRECTING your weaknesses, merely work to NEUTRALIZE them. Spend your precious energy and limited time on cultivating your strengths instead, because that is where flourishing will happen. No one ever flourishes by focusing all their efforts on things they don't do well and don't enjoy.

Hugh MacLeod (aka @gapingvoid) draws quirky cartoons for a living. It's what he loves doing and does very well. He has recently illustrated this idea quite well in this graphic.

How to Identify Your Strengths

There are a few instruments on the market that can help you identify your top strength. They use slightly different terminology and number of total strengths in their inventories. Ultimately, however, the themes that emerge should be similar. Here are two of my favorites:

The VIA Character Strengths Survey is free of charge and was developed by Chris Peterson, PhD, one of the pioneers of the Positive Psychology field.

My top 5 VIA signature strengths:

  1. Curiosity and interest in the world
  2. Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
  3. Love of learning
  4. Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
  5. Capacity to love and be loved

StrengthsFinder2.0 was developed by the Gallup Organization and requires a purchase of the StrengthsFinder2.0 book, which helps explain all of the strengths.

My top 5 StrengthsFinder2.0 strengths:

  1. Learner
  2. Input
  3. Ideation
  4. Intellection
  5. Individualization

See the pattern?

Find Your Strengths and Use Them Daily!

Go find out what your strengths are, and answer this question:

"Do you get to use your strengths in your work every day?"

Watch this blog for an upcoming post with more suggestions on HOW to put your strengths to work.

Challenge: If you're so inclined, I'd love for you to list your top 5 strengths in the comments below, along with any thoughts or questions you have about this subject.

Photo credit: via Flickr.

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Strengths, Schmengths! (or, "I Don't Get to Use My Strengths Regularly at Work. Now What?")

Ep 09: Leverage Your Character Strengths with Shannon Polly

Putting Your Strengths to Work