The Value in Finding and Using Your Strengths

A man pushing a boulder up a hill

Did you know that identifying your strengths and understanding how to use them could be your number one unrealised weapon?

In fact, by using your strengths you could feel an increase in happiness, improve your relationships, build resilience, strengthen your ability to overcome problems (Hammond, 2010), and enhance your overall well-being (Linley et al., 2010)

Some studies have shown that actively knowing your strengths, predicts how much you use them. Seems obvious, right? But, it’s important to take time and take stock of all the things you’re naturally good at – when you’re aware of them, that’s when you’re more likely to use them (Allan et al., 2019). Then, if you’re comfortable, perhaps think about sharing these with your mentoring partner.

 “In an intervention promoting people’s top five character strengths at work, employees reported increased life satisfaction and psychological well-being”

(Forest et al., 2012).

Not sure what your strengths are? Thankfully, there’s a free, scientifically-grounded test you can take and it only takes about 15 minutes to complete. You’ll learn your top five strengths out of 24 in the wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence categories. (VIACharacter.org, 2020) 

Once you’ve identified your strengths, how can you use them? Here are a few ways we’ve found whilst digging through the research.


Use Narrative to Validate Your Strengths


The premise of the narrative method (Epston and White, 1992) is that we each live our lives based on our experiences or our story. 

The narrative method can be used to get someone, i.e. a mentee, to tell their story, during which the listener, i.e. a mentor, can tease out the storyteller’s hidden strengths. It’s helpful for the storyteller to hear those strengths recognised by someone else.

If you’ve already taken your strengths test and know what they are, you can see how you’ve already used some of them to overcome obstacles in your past, and how you can continue to harness them for the future (Epston and White, 1992).


Answer These Strengths-Based Questions


Work through these questions with your mentoring partner. Yes, they might seem simple, and some even obvious. But take your answers and think about how you can implement or engage in those strengths more frequently. Here are five examples to get you started:

  1. What do you like to do in your spare time?
  2. What energizes you?
  3. Describe a successful day. What made it successful?
  4. How would your close friends describe you?
  5. How do you stay motivated?

Questions as simple, yet as meaningful, as these can illuminate parts of your day-to-day life that you can easily bolster by incorporating your strengths (Graybeal, 2001). It can be as simple as scheduling a quick catch-up with a colleague you haven’t spoken to in a while (Social Intelligence), or learning a new skill that will make you more efficient at work (Curiosity).


Going Further


These are our favourite two simple, effective ways to help you recognise and use your strengths, especially with your mentoring partner. Whilst there are more complex applications of finding and utilising strengths, those methods are best left to coaching or psychological professionals.

Are you ready to explore your strengths with your mentor or mentee?
Log in to Mentorloop today to schedule a meeting.




References:

Allan, B., Owens, R., Kim, T., Douglass, R., & Hintz, J. (2019). Strengths and satisfaction in first-year undergraduate students: A longitudinal study. The Journal Of Positive Psychology, 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2019.1676458

Epston, D. and White, M. (1992) Experience, contradiction, narrative and imagination: Selected papers of David Epston and Michael White, 1989-1991, Adelaide, Australia: Dulwich Centre

Forest, J., Mageau, G. A., Crevier-Braud, L., Bergeron, É., Dubreuil, P., & Lavigne, G. L. (2012). Harmonious passion as an explanation of the relation between signature strengths’ use and well-being at work: Test of an intervention program. Human Relations, 65(9), 1233–1252.

Graybeal, C. (2001) Strengths-based social work assessment: Transforming the dominant paradigm, Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Human Services, 82, 233-242

Hammond, W. (2010) Principles of Strength-Based Practice. Resiliency Initiatives. Retrieved 11 February 2019 from http://www.ayscbc.org/Principles%20of%20Strength-2.pdf.

Linley, P. A., Nielsen, K. M., Gillett, R., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2010). Using signature strengths in pursuit of goals: Effects on goal progress, need satisfaction, and wellbeing, and implications for coaching psychologists. International Coaching Psychology Review, 5, 6–15.VIA Character Strengths Survey & Character Profile Reports. (n.d.). VIA Institute on Character. https://www.viacharacter.org

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Adeyanju Abiodun Emmanuel

Wow, I find this piece very interesting, especially the strength test. It really caught me, and most of which I never categorised as strength before now. Spirituality, Humility, Honesty, Kindness, social intelligence. Thanks for the piece.