Article by Marie Haycocks 06.06.16
- Do you sometimes feel totally in the flow and firing on all cylinders…and then other times feel totally the opposite and aren’t sure why?
- Do you find yourself internally beating yourself up when you are faced with a challenging task?
- Do you regularly look at other people admiring their capabilities but not recognising your own?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you are not alone. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to always be this way! By knowing and applying your strengths your life and work will feel very different.
“Everyone is a genius but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree it will live its life behaving like it is stupid”
Understanding my own strengths has had a hugely positive impact on my professional and personal life, and the clients I work with.
What is a strength?
A strength is ‘a behavioral quality’ that is inherent within you. When you apply these strengths you feel strong, in the flow and productive. If you focus on what you aren’t naturally good at, it will make you feel weak, not great about yourself and result in you being far from productive! By appreciating your strengths, rather than your weaknesses, and then leveraging them you will be more confident, impactful and productive.
The benefits of knowing and applying your strengths, are:
1. You feel good about yourself
Focusing on what you are good at will make you feel good about yourself, more confident and strong.
2. You delegate more
Once you know your strengths, the urge to do everything yourself fades and it feels okay to ask others for help.
3. You are kinder to yourself
When you find a task challenging you can think, instead of beating yourself up, about how you can use your strengths to help you, accepting that it might take longer, or ask or help.
4. You are a better team player
People love being asked for help. When you start recognising others’ strengths and asking them to help, this improves team relationships and productivity.
5. You are more efficient
You will be able to delegate and outsource tasks that don’t play to your strengths, making you more productive when you focus on doing the tasks that do.
6. You will be happier
By building your job and career around your strengths you will be positively reinforcing them every day, therefore growing your confidence and positive endorphins.
How to find your strengths
It can be difficult to appreciate your own strengths, as this is not something we are used to doing. For example, at school, for many of us, the focus was often on what we should do better, and at work conversations are often steered towards our developmental areas. So it’s no wonder we find it hard to talk about our own strengths!
Here are some tips to help you find your strengths:
1. Ask yourself:
- What are my key achievements?
- What qualities was I demonstrating at the time?
- When I am at my best I am…
- My friends and family will say that I am good at …
- One quality I like about myself is…
- The qualities I am demonstrating when I feel strong and in the flow are…
2. Ask your friends, family and trusted colleagues what they see as your core strengths
3. Use ‘Strengths Cards’. I am a big fan of these ‘At My Best’ cards and I use them in my 1:1 and group coaching sessions with my clients.
4. Read a book such as ‘Now, Discover Your Strengths’ by Marcus Buckingham’ . This was the book I read when I first heard about the concept of strengths and it includes an online questionnaire to identify your top 5 key strengths.
Once you know your strengths, write them down and put them somewhere where you can regularly refer to them. Some of my clients have them as a screen saver, on the inside page of their notebook or even next to their mirror at home! Then:
- Make it a habit to regularly remind yourself of what your strengths are.
- When you are faced with a problem, or opportunity, ask yourself ‘how could I use my strengths to help me now?’
- Think about how you could build a life and career where you can fully utilise those strengths.
I have experienced and witnessed first hand how knowing and applying your strengths can increase your levels of happiness, confidence and success. So why not start now?
Enjoy the journey and please get in touch with me to help you along the way.