I have a hard time figuring out what I want to do whether it’s finding a sport to play, what kind of a summer job I’m going to look for and, the biggest one, what career do I want to pursue. If you’re like me, then I’d suggest you read this book, “Soar With Your Strengths” by Donald O. Clifton and Paula Nelson. If you didn’t know, Clifton is the creator of the StrengthsQuest assessment that our office uses to determine a person’s strengths and where and how to apply them. Now let’s see how one can find and identify their strengths.
One: Listen for Yearnings
What’s pulling you? What’s tugging on your brain saying “Hey try me!” This is the first clue to finding a strength. Things that interest you after reading about it or seeing others doing it are something to look for. If you can see yourself doing it as well, give it a try. You have to be careful though, make sure what’s pulling you isn’t a misleading yearn. Make sure the reason why you want to pursue something isn’t for a false reason such as, wanting to become a manager for the power and not because you want to be a leader, or running a restaurant wanting to make money and not serve and satisfy customers. These false reasons will lead to you having a short spurt of motivation to do something but once you realize it’ll take more work, you’ll soon drop it.
Two: Watch for Satisfactions
Are you satisfied when you’ve done a good job at something? Or are you just glad it’s over and you never look back? Most people who love their job are satisfied with the end results of something they worked hard to achieve. The feeling of satisfaction after completion is something you want because it’ll give you a hunger for more. In a way you want what you do to become addictive in a way. You love it and you can’t wait to finish. Finding out if it isn’t what you want to do is almost as easy. If you spend countless hours on a science project and with the result you never want to look at it again, maybe science isn’t a strength of yours. “If it doesn’t feel good, you are not practicing a strength,” (Clifton).
Three: Watch for Rapid Learning
How quickly do you pick something up? If you tend to pick up a skill pretty fast, maybe it’s a strength. Assess what you’ve done in the past and see what are some of the things you do that you can do without really trying. Whether it be learning a new sport, writing software programs, being able to write a short story or learning a new song on an instrument. Then, you need to figure out if you’re a competent learner, where you learn from reading text books or watching, or a natural learner where you just jump right in and learn as you go. Distinguishing those two styles are important because do employers want a professional who can talk about it, or a professional who can go out and make it happen? If something happens to be something you aren’t picking up rather quickly, no matter how many times you try you just can’t comprehend the information, it might not be that you aren’t smart, it may be that what you’re trying to learn and do is a non-strength.
Four: Glimpse of Excellence
Watch for things where you may stand out. A great example would be sports. When a basketball player scores a triple double in a playoff game, that’s a sign of a strength. What do people notice about you or praise you in when you’ve done something? Are there moments when you outshine other students or co-workers? If what you do causes positive attention, start building on that strength and work to master that strength. At times many people may use negative comments as fuel to become better at a non-strengths and still fail in the end. Work harder on what your praised of doing and don’t put so much focus on what needs improving.
Five: Total Performance of Excellence
When you do something amazing, ask yourself if it seems as amazing to you as to other people. When a track star is behind does he have to think about how much faster he has to run, or does he just run faster? This may be the biggest sign of finding your strength due the fact that others see what you do, as compelling. A sign of total performance is the amount of improvement over time. Even when you’re great, all you want to do is improve because there is always room for improvement in a strength.
Use these five characteristics of a strength to find what your strengths are. The most important part is to focus and work hard at your strengths instead of always putting all that effort into your weaknesses. Spending time on improving something to become average may not always be in your best interest and that time could be spend on improving something to become great. I would highly recommend this book to those of you who are confused at what you are good at and this book will help you reevaluate those things.
We’ve been profiling different strengths all year. Check out the StrengthsQuest category to find out how you can use your strengths for career planning.