Think about focusing on your strengths to be a better you – better employee and better person. We live in a society that has us focusing on making our weaknesses into strengths. Are we setting ourselves up for failure when we try to excel at something that we lack talent to begin with? Look at Michael Jordan. He was a stellar basketball player. Michael did not bring the same level of skill and talent to baseball and golf. Gallup’s research shows that people who know and use their strengths tend to be better performers.
What is a “strength”? The definition by Clifton defines strengths as the result of maximized talents. Talents are “naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied” (Hodges & Clifton, 2004, p. 257). Clifton went on to create an assessment that identifies 34 talent themes. Below are descriptions of 4 of the 34 themes taken from :Strength Based Leadership:
Achiever: People strong in the achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.
Input: People strong in the input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.
Learner: People strong 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.
Positivity: People strong in the positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.
Invest some time in identifying your talents and your weaknesses. Knowing what you are not good at, is just as important as knowing your natural abilities. While I’m not on Gallup’s payroll nor are they paying for any kind of endorsement, I would recommend investing in $15 to take the Clifton Strength Assessment. Read through the results. Look to put yourself into situations that maximize your natural abilities. By answering the following questions, you should be able to identify some of your natural talents:
Do I know what I do best every day?
- What do I enjoy most in my day-to-day activities at work?
- How much time do I spend doing what I enjoy most?
- What part of my current role energizes me?
- What were my greatest accomplishments in the past six months?
- Can I connect my talents to my accomplishments?
Do others know what I do best every day?
- Am I communicating to the right people about what I do best?
- Have I gathered input and feedback from the right people on how to apply my talents in my role?
- Is there a career path that my manager and I can agree on that builds on what I do best?
While everyone loves the underdog story, and it is not impossible to achieve excellence at something that is not part of our natural talents, we can excel in areas where we have natural talent. The challenge is identifying a those talents and turning them into strengths.