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0 Take Yourself to the Next Level by Discovering and Developing Your Strengths

Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day? The chances are that you do not.

Some of our talents and strengths go untapped. We tend to devote more time addressing our shortcomings than developing our strengths. It has become all too easy to fall into a weakness-fixing model. Throughout our education and career, too much attention is paid to our weaknesses, to our “opportunities for personal growth,” or whatever popular euphemisms we want to use. We may have noticed from time to time that it’s our bosses, managers, coworkers, teachers and even parents who seem to be experts at spotting weaknesses. In fact, most of them consider it their responsibility to point out our flaws and help us correct them.

We ourselves have become experts on our own weaknesses and spend our lives trying to repair them while our strengths lie hidden or ignored. The research, however, is clear: we grow and develop by emphasizing our strengths rather than beating ourselves up over our weaknesses. Understanding our strengths can help us flourish by focusing more on what we naturally do best and by increasing our potential. The goal is to maximize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses.

Here are three benefits of focusing on your strengths, discovering who you really are, and becoming who you are meant to be:

Benefits of Improving Personal Strengths

Builds Self-Awareness

When developing a new skill, you will find out more about yourself. You will discover your abilities and strengths and learn how to use them to your advantage. Doing so increases your self-awareness and teaches you new ways to apply your strengths. It can help you understand your personality, values and motivators and recognize how they influence your behavior and decisions. By increasing your self-awareness, you can make better choices that align with your strengths so you can avoid situations that are not a good fit. You will have a better grasp of what makes you unique and how that impacts you, your team members, your boss, and your organization.

Builds Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem

Discovering and developing your strengths can boost your confidence and self-esteem and positively influence your professional and personal life. You need self-confidence and self-esteem to overcome challenges. Confidence and self-esteem don’t come from just one action; they persist despite bad moments. Just acknowledge that you make mistakes, and your increased self-confidence and self-esteem will help you bounce back faster. You’ll accept that you’ve done your best and can chalk it up to a learning opportunity.

Improves Communication Skills

Strength development allows you to understand yourself better, helping you set clear boundaries with others. Additionally, acquiring skills such as interpersonal and leadership helps you find ways to communicate effectively with others, allowing you to create seamless streams of communication so everyone remains on the same page. For example, in the workplace, effective communication handles conflicts better and strengthens organizational culture. This ensures business success and looks great to recruiters looking for work environments with high job satisfaction and employee engagement. When we improve our communication skills, our relationships become stronger and more meaningful, and our collaboration and teamwork become more efficient.

We all have unique talents we use in different ways to bring out the best in ourselves and others. Development is the key to succeeding with our strengths. It is those “Aha!” moments we experience when exposed to new ways that allow us to understand and describe to others what makes us uniquely powerful. As long as we work, grow relationships, strategize, complete goals (big and small) and influence those around us, we will have the chance to deepen our awareness of our strengths.

Here are four “Cs” that may help you discover and develop your strengths, taking you to the next level.

First, be curious. Perhaps you think you are strong in one area, but you are unsure. This is where you need to discover which activities or projects interest you or that you might be good at. Research available resources and see what it would take to commit to developing your strengths. There are many online self-assessments available to help. Perhaps take a strength-finding assessment. This is an effective tool to help you learn about your talents and strengths. These types of assessments help determine your greatest talents and give you a detailed list of actions you can take to develop them. Once you identify your five top strengths, you can examine how they show up in your life.

Another resource you can use to discover your unique talents, abilities and ways of thinking is getting a mentor. Leveraging the expertise of a mentor can help you determine how to take advantage of your strengths by integrating them into your ongoing discussions and goals.

Second, be creative. Think outside the box. Each day, find a new way to use your strengths for your benefit, but do not overwhelm yourself by overanalyzing your behavior. For example, rather than trying to figure out what strengths you may have to match a particular organization, take the reverse approach and perhaps think about what organization most needs and then figure out how you might best contribute. This helps you focus on developing skills that are beneficial to the people around you, which is key to finding a career that is both meaningful and personally rewarding.

Third, be confident. Confidence is one of your greatest strengths. When trying to improve yourself in any capacity, you have won half the battle if you believe you can accomplish almost anything. Self-confidence comes from knowing you have the ability to succeed. Without it, you will be less likely to try new things, seize opportunities, take risks, or go for the things you really want in life. Your struggle with your own mind is often greater than any other challenge you may face. You may have tough days when you are unsure of yourself, but you will build momentum as long as you get back on track quickly. The more tasks you complete, the more you can convince yourself that you are capable.

Fourth, create a plan that focuses on developing your biggest strengths by setting goals. People are more successful when they set goals. Write down what you would like to accomplish and by what date you would like to accomplish it. Remember to be realistic and review your goals frequently to keep yourself on track. Post your goals in places where you will see them throughout the day (e.g., your refrigerator, bathroom mirror or computer monitor). This will keep you on track and motivate you to reach these goals quickly.

If you have trouble creating a plan, reflect on ways you can apply your core strengths to help you in a potentially stressful situation.

Final Thoughts

Discovering your true strengths is the path toward improvement and success. When you pay attention only to your weaknesses and try to overcome them, you are placing emphasis on becoming what you are not. When you focus on your strengths, you are true to yourself by becoming more of who you really are.

You cannot be anything and everything you wish you could be, but you can be the best of who you already are the real you.


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