Discovering Your True Potential
Do you know what your strengths are?
We're not talking about your industry knowledge or your years of experience in your field. We're talking about your real strengths – the strengths that set you apart from your colleagues and make you unique. When was the last time you sat down to analyze these strengths? Or, for that matter, have you ever taken time to analyze what you're truly best at doing?
Most people haven't. We've all probably analyzed and worked on our weaknesses, but many people don't give their strengths much thought.
This, however, is a mistake. Working with our strengths is one of the surest paths to success and happiness in what we do. And there's a good chance that we have strengths we've never even considered.
Stop and think about what your days might be like if you could use your five biggest strengths consistently. You could perform exceptionally well most of the time. You'd feel excited and fulfilled in what you were doing. And you'd feel as if you and your work existed in near-perfect harmony.
Sounds wonderful, right? Well, this is how some of the world's most successful people feel much of the time. They've discovered their strengths, and they've worked to build their lives – and their work – around those strengths.
Fortunately, all of us can do this, and a good way of getting started is to take the StrengthsFinder self-test. That way you can find your strengths and start to focus on them.
The latest version of the test is at www.strengthsfinder.com. To use it, you'll need an individual, single-use access code, which is included in the books Strengths Based Leadership and "StrengthsFinder 2.0" (a book version of the assessment) and to pay a fee. You can also take an earlier version of the test with a code found in "Now, Discover Your Strengths" by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton.
Discover Your Strengths
The StrengthsFinder test was created by Marcus Buckingham, author of "First, Break All the Rules," and Donald Clifton of Gallup International Research and Education. They based the test on a 25-year Gallup study of more than two million people from all areas of life – from housekeepers to CEOs. Gallup asked detailed, open-ended questions to find out what made all of these participants successful.
Thanks to their input, and some in-depth analysis and research, Gallup identified 34 of the most common human strengths. The StrengthsFinder test helps you identify which five of these strengths you have.
Why is this so important? Well, as we said earlier, improving your strengths is a smarter strategy than spending time fixing your weaknesses. When you use your strengths, you feel more productive and energized – and you'll likely be more successful in your career.
On the other hand, how do you feel when you're working with a weakness? You probably feel tired, discouraged, frustrated, or even fearful. Everything you do seems harder than it should.
If you can direct your career choices so that your work takes advantage of your strengths, then you're much more likely to find work that you enjoy, and that you're very good at! (See our article on goal setting for more on how you'd do this.)
The StrengthsFinder Online Assessment
The StrengthsFinder test takes about 35 minutes to complete. Each question has two statements, like "I enjoy being around people" and "I like to be organized." You choose which statement, on a sliding scale, describes you best.
You have 20 seconds to read and make each choice. The authors didn't want people to overanalyze questions, so it's best to follow your first instincts when answering.
Once you have your results, use the detailed analysis in the book to learn more about your strengths – and how you can further grow and develop them in the future. Also, if you're a manager, "Now, Discover Your Strengths" offers useful and practical strategies for managing people with each "strength type."
The StrengthsFinder assessment helps you discover your true strengths. One of the test's biggest advantages is that it allows you to discover strengths that you didn't realize you had.
This information is important because it's much easier, and more productive, to build on your strengths than to overcome your weaknesses. Your true strengths are natural to you, and using them consistently will help you face challenges and live your best life.