Let’s start from the basics.
Why would you care for your strengths?
No idea? REALLY? Then read my previous article on 15 reasons why smart people care for their strengths – and why you should too.
Now that you know the why… Ready to roll up sleeves and identify yours but you’re just not quite sure how to do it?
Here are 9 ways to go about it:
#1. Do a Test
There are quite a few Strengths Tests out there. The top two I recommend are these:
The VIA Character Strengths Test is a totally FREE test that gives you a ranking of 24 strengths, housed under 6 virtues. The site also gives you a short description on what each of these strengths mean and how to use them.
The StrengthsFinder test by Gallup accompanies the book with the similar title and you can use your code found in the book to access the test or you can purchase a code on their website. The book gives you a description of your strengths and how to use them in work setting, although I personally find the book a bit dry reading.
In either case, with these tests you have a great first step to identify your strengths.
However, if you miss an outside perspective, you can also turn to:
#2. Strengths Coaching
Find a coach who will coach you through the process of identifying and putting in use your strengths.
Sometimes we’re so much immersed in our own story and life that we fail to notice key themes and strengths. That’s where an outside perspective can come handy.
With a coach, you’ll get to identify your own strengths from multiple angles and then work out a tailored method to build on them.
Coaching might not be the cheapest way to work with your strengths, but surely the most effective in putting systems in place while getting accountability.
(Interested in exploring this? Contact me for a 15-minute laser session.)
If 1:1 coaching is not an option, here’s a more cost-effective way:
#3. Strengths Workshop
Strengths Workshops are held in a small group setting and lead by a certified coach. It takes you through the process of identifying your strengths and working out some strategies to put them into your service.
Due to the nature of these events, workshops are less tailored than personal coaching, but they have lots of benefits to the participants:
- You can get to hear feedback from multiple people as you work on exercises with others.
- As opposed to a month or 3-months worth of coaching, workshops usually take 4 or 6 hours, thus they represent an intensive track of learning.
- Workshops enable the use of varied sets of activities: lecture, group work, team work, verbal and written exercises, but even more unconventional methods like… building models with Lego bricks (!).
- Liaising with others (whether in a learning environment or not) is always fun and make people happier. 🙂
In case you prefer more informal ways to identify your own talents and strengths, you can recur to the following method:
#4. Feedback from Friends
Sometimes we have difficulties in seeing our own strengths and that’s when checking in with our friends can be beneficial.
Pick 4-5 people who know you well. They can be family members, friends or even co-workers.
Ask them what they consider as your strengths and take notes as you discuss this topic.
Then once you have a full list, look for common themes.
The four methods above are all ways that involve either a professional or an informal type of support in your quest for your strengths.
If you’d like to do this all alone (and why not?), here are some other helping questions to ponder on:
#5. Childhood activities
Note down all activities you loved doing as a child. Don’t shy back from listing all kinds of games you played. Chances are, those activities still give you pleasure… even if you play them differently today. 🙂
You don’t always have to go back to childhood to identify your strengths! Remaining in the present, observe what activities energize you today. Note down everything you notice and look for the themes.
#7. Your Best Self
Another way to check in with yourself is if you simply notice times when you feel at your best. Where are you then? What are you doing? With whom? Note down every detail. Then take a distance and then come back to your notes to find a common theme.
Another way to ask the question is this:
What comes natural to you?
It’s basically the same question we asked in the previous point above, but rephrasing sometimes helps bringing in new perspective and broaden the number of answers to our question. As strengths are something we’re born with (unlike learned skills), it’s easy to observe ourselves through our life story and see things that come natural.
And finally, here’s a last helping question:
What do you pick up quickly?
Things you learn fast are probably in the intersection of your strengths and interests, and thus are the best points to start building on.
Don’t be blinded by the topic of your learning though! Look at what those topics express.
For instance I was confused for a long time, since learning comes easy to me, whatever the topic is! It can be neuroscience, languages, history… you name it. So for a while I didn’t see a pattern there until I realized that learning in itself would be my strength… Which indeed was confirmed by the VIA Test.
So now it’s your turn! Which is your fave method for identifying your strengths? What did you use or will start using now? Share with us in a comment below.
And remember, you’re not alone! If you’d like to join others in exploring your strengths together, sign up for our Strengths Workshop.