There seem to be two great competing philosophies on whether someone should embrace their natural strengths, or extend the majority of their attention on their weaknesses. Myself, I see value and purpose in both.
Natural strengths put you in a position to accentuate your potential for consistent higher performance, or outcome(s), in what you’re doing. You’re more likely to experience more successes at the task(s) at hand, and contribute with greater ease. It probably comes to no surprise that the following are proven outcomes you may expect when embracing your natural strengths:
- Increase Your Overall Happiness
- Increase Your Ability to Manage Problems
- Decrease Stress
- Increase Confidence
- Accomplish More Goals
- Strengthen Relationships
On a different standpoint, switching predominant energy on nurturing weaknesses does lend an opportunity to see where growth in future potential can be realized. But, I’m not sure I agree that we are meant to be good at all things. I mean, think about it for a moment … in football, would you give Tom Brady feedback that his weakness is in pass rushing, and therefore he should focus his time during practice on his hits, sacks, and sprint game? … Hmm, probably not!
I cannot discount that sometimes a good challenge, or upheaval, is motivating and helps us stretch ourselves. I think it is sometimes good to get us out of our comfort zone and see where we may have untapped potential. From a professional standpoint, I have given many performance evaluations on my teams and offered insight to where they are naturally excelling, and if they choose to do so, ideas on where they can expand in other areas. In my view, I don’t see things as “weaknesses,” I see them as “growth opportunities,” that can either be of interest to embark upon, or not. I have seen where some areas for growth did prove to be an area someone(s) realized they have budding potential, and in opposite situations, the intentions for growth in an area just didn’t pan out.
“Happiness Comes From Learning and Practicing Virtuous Character Strengths” — Sacrotes, Plato, Aristotle
Strengths are good and shouldn’t be boxed to the side. You should know them, embrace them, and seek ways to leverage them in your daily life, both personally and professionally. We should recognize that every human being has strengths, although at different levels of veracity. These differences do not make one person “better” than another, it just means they are more naturally fit for certain things, or responsibilities.
I recently wanted inventory and awareness to my own strengths and found the VIA Institute of Character serves as a useful platform to identify strengths and understanding what these strengths represent. They consider 24 strengths they have been identified as those every human has some degree of, and the assessment ultimately determines the depth of each strength you embody.
So… What Are Your Strengths?
I hope you are interested in finding your strengths! To give you more background into the vision and view of VIA Institute of Character, I thought this video below would be great for you to watch:
Are you interested in taking the strength assessment? I hope so! CLICK HERE to determine your strengths.
What Do My Results Show?
I thought for fun I’d share results of my assessment, focusing specifically on what they reference as “Signature Strengths,” an individual’s highest character strengths, which seem to be the top 7 out of the 24 strengths. What is important about these strengths called out are that these are considered traits and strengths I am most dominant, “the ones that define an important core of an individual – who they are”! Signature Strengths apparently are those that come more natural, and those that I am most comfortable.
And… in the order in which they were presented:
- Hope. “Hope is expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it. Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness all represent an all-encompassing cognitive, emotional, and motivational stance towards the future characterized by sustained good cheer and goal-directed efforts.”
- Leadership. “Leadership is organizing and encouraging a group to get things done while maintaining good relations within the group. It is setting goals and accomplishing them, enlisting effective help, building coalitions, and smoothing ruffled feathers. … it is the personal quality of vision and force of personality that consistently inspires and empower others.”
- Kindness. “Kindness is the pervasive tendency to be nice to people. Kindness is compassion, concern for the welfare of others, a propensity to do favors for them, to take care of them, and to perform good deeds…. Those who score high for kindness will likely score high in other-oriented emotions and strengths and may have a sophisticated and developed ability for moral reasoning.”
- Humor. “Humor is perceiving what is comical or amusing in situations, and offering a lighter side. … Humor can serve the greater good by making the human condition more bearable, by drawing attention to its contradictions, by sustaining good cheer in the face of despair, by building social bonds, and by lubricating social interaction. Humor is a morally praiseworthy strength when coupled with other strengths. For example, social intelligence and self-regulation added to humor can ensure that humor is delivered with sensitivity in the right dose at the right time.”
- Perseverance. “Perseverance is sticking with things. It is finishing what one starts, persisting in the course of action in spite of obstacles, taking pleasure in completing tasks. Perseverance is not laziness, giving up, losing heart, losing interest, or taking shortcuts. Studies have shown that when people think they will succeed, they persist longer at both easy and difficult tasks.”
- Zest. “Zest is approaching life with excitement and energy, not doing things halfway or halfheartedly, and living life as an adventure. It is strongly associated with happiness and life satisfaction, and it is the strength that most characterizes people who love their work and regard it as a “calling” in their life. … It refers to a feeling of being alive, full of energy, and displaying enthusiasm for any and all activities.”
- Love of Learning. “Love of learning is having a passion for learning for its own sake. It is Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one’s own or formally. Love of learning is sustained curiosity. Positive feelings are often experienced in the process of acquiring skills, satisfying one’s curiosity, building on existing knowledge, and/or learning something completely new.”
I hope you take your own strength assessment and learn something new about yourself … or perhaps provide support for what you already have the intuition to where you excel. Reflect on the results and see where these pertain to your personal life, and definitely leverage this to align your professional interactions, responsibilities, and opportunities. In fact, you may want to do the assessment as a way to prepare for any performance evaluation(s) process you’re actively participating in. You should consider proactively coming to the table with ideas on where you feel your role and responsibilities are putting you in optimal areas to thrive based on your strengths. Regardless of how you want to leverage your results, have fun with them and pat yourself on the back for being the awesome person you are!