What are the greatest successes you have achieved in your life? How did you accomplish them?
Are you using the same strengths to the same extent now?
Chances are you’re not…yet
Strengths can be defined as a “pre-existing capacity for a particular way of behaving, thinking, or feeling that is authentic and energizing to the user, and enables optimal functioning, development and performance” (Linley, 2008, p.9).
Strengths are considered to come naturally to you.
Skills are learned through training or experience.
Talent is an innate ability characterized by a strong biological background (Niemiec, 2013).
A hematologist professor of mine from Women’s College Hospital would say that the reason why he’s a hematologist is because he has no talent (but plenty of skills and strengths).
Chances are… you don’t, at least according to research (Smith, 2011; Niemiec, 2013); only 1/3 of the participants asked were aware of their strengths (Linley, 2008).
The “Taking-strengths-for-granted Effect” (Niemiec, 2013, p.29).
Usain Bolt said that the first time he started to believe he was actually really really fast was when he was playing cricket and an elder commented “you got some speed!”
How often to you get complimented for your strengths, rather than criticized for your weaknesses?
Yeah, well, normally, I’m a tad more indestructible. Must’ve been the…Styrofoam! That stuff, it weakens me.
If you don’t use it, you lose it…Or at least, you may forget it’s in your toolbox (Smith, 2011).
And if you use it more, you can make it even stronger; and you can even develop new ones (Biswas-Diener, Kashdan, & Minhas, 2011).
- Did you know Gandhi was extremely shy…if you look at photos of him online, surrounded by millions, he looks anything but shy.
As research has suggested that strengths use is linked to higher levels of well-being (Smith, 2011).
Dr. Seligman in his works reports that authentic happiness can be had:
- by doing what brings you pleasure
- by doing what you’re good at
- by serving a higher purpose
Using your strengths and resources hits the first two points, with the potential of hitting the 3rd .
Have you heard of the rope-a-dope?
This was a strategy used by Muhammad Ali in defeating George Foreman in an upset victory.
Read more here on how Ali defeated a stronger, faster, younger, “favourited-to-win” opponent.
What were the greatest successes in your life? The successes that you are most proud of?
How did you achieve that?
- What talents do you have that you used?
- What strengths did you rely upon?
- Which skills did you hone to get that done?
- Which resources (e.g., people, support networks, etc.) did you rely upon for help?
For the questions below, we will use “STRENGTHS” as representing strengths, skills, talents and resources.
If the STRONGER version of yourself could speak with you as you work on this Area of life that you would like to see better, what would they advise?
If you could dial up the “volume” on one or some of those STRENGTHS:
- What might you notice happen in your day-to-day life?
- What might those who know you best notice in your day-to-day life that tells them you have dialed up the volume on some of those STRENGTHS?
Are there any challenges you see coming up in the future that could benefit from higher volume in these STRENGTHS?
How will you make the best of the upcoming opportunities to leverage your STRENGTHS to help realize that Area of life that you would like to see better?
Are there other STRENGTHS you believe you could develop that would help you improve this Area of life that you would like to see better?
Who are your heroes? And what STRENGTHS do you admire in them? How did they leverage them in overcoming challenges?
Consider trying out our STRENGTHS & Resources Appraisal worksheet in jumpstarting your journey towards self-discovery of latent STRENGTHS.
Biswas-Diener, R., Kashdan, T., & Minhas, G. (n.d.). A dynamic approach to psychological strength development and intervention. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6, 106-118.
Linley, A. (2008). Average to A : Realising strengths in yourself and others. Coventry: CAPP.
Niemiec, R. M. (2013). VIA character strengths: Research and practice (The first 10 years). In H. H. Knoop & A. Delle Fave (Eds.), Well-being and cultures: Perspectives on positive psychology (pp. 11-30). New York: Springer.
Smith, E. (2011). Spotlighting the strengths of every single student why U.S. schools need a new, strengths-based approach. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger.