Informative, and General Reading
Discovering Your Strengths
by Kathy Paauw
Many people never fully utilize their natural gifts because
they don't find the proper way to express them in the
world, or perhaps they don't even recognize the talents
they have. Realized or not, we all have natural talents
that we feel passionate about. These talents may feel so
natural that you don't even realize how they make you
unique and special. Your combined unique talents and
capabilities create an experience for others that they will
not be able to find anywhere else.
I just finished reading an excellent book called "Now,
Discover Your Strengths," by Marcus Buckingham and Donald
Clifton. The authors define talents in a different way
than I had thought of them before. Talent is defined as
any recurring pattern of thought, feeling or behavior that
can be productively applied. Here are some examples of
talent as they define it: inquisitive, charming,
persistent, responsible, dyslexic. All of these qualities
can be productively applied.
I had never thought of dyslexia as being a talent, until I
read this book. The authors shared an example of how David
Boies -- a celebrated trial attorney and one of the best
litigators in the United States -- uses dyslexia to his
advantage. He was recruited as counsel for the US
Government's antitrust suit against Microsoft, in part
because of his gift of dyslexia. Why? Because his
dyslexia causes him to avoid using long and complicated
words. He knows what these words mean, but doesn't use
them in his arguments because he's afraid that he will
mispronounce them. This need to rely on simple words makes
his arguments easy to follow. He also comes across as a
common-sense "man of the people," which naturally helps him
win over a judge and jury. The authors of this book point
out that "for David Boies, dyslexia is a talent because he
has figured out a way to apply this recurring pattern
productively, and by combining it with knowledge and
skills, to turn it into a strength."
Do you focus on your strengths or Weaknesses?
Authors of "Now, Discover Your Strengths" did extensive
research which found that only 41% of Americans believe
that the key to success is to focus on strengths rather
than weaknesses. In Japan and China, only 24% of those
surveyed said they'd focus on strengths. The rest of the
population believed that the key to success is found by
focusing on weaknesses and trying to improve them.
The problem is that we tend to get what we focus on. If we
focus on our weaknesses, what does that mean? Here were a
couple of startling findings in the studies they conducted:
Parents were asked which grade they would spend the most
time discussing with their child if they came home with the
following report card:
"Most Americans do not know what their strengths are. When
you ask them, they look at you with a blank stare, or they
respond in terms of subject knowledge, which is the wrong
A in English,
A in Social Studies,
C in Biology,
F in Algebra.
The results: 77% of the
parents said they would spend the most time discussing the
failed Algebra grade.
The authors did a search to determine how many studies have
been done on depression. They found more than 40,000
studies on depression, vs. only about 40 studies that had
been conducted on joy and fulfillment.
The authors point out that our balance is off. Our
perspective is so skewed toward weakness and illness that
we know very little about our strengths and health. They note
that if these weaknesses interfere with our strengths, we
need to develop strategies to manage around them. Although
a focus on weakness may help us prevent failure, it won't
help us to reach excellence. We reach excellence only by
understanding and cultivating our strengths.
Carl Jung, the Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist who
founded analytic psychology, sums it up by saying that
"Criticism has the power to do good when there is something
that must be destroyed, dissolved, or redirected, but it is
capable only of harm when there is something to be built."
Identify Your Strengths
Here are some key characteristics that mark talent as the
authors define it:
Our dominant talents contain the promise of developing a
strength. A strength is defined as "a combination of
talents, skills and knowledge that are consistently and
productively applied to achieve a desired result." The
authors of "Now, Discover Your Strengths" point out that
"unfortunately, most of us have little sense of our talents
and strengths. Instead, guided by our parents, our
teachers, our managers and psychology's fascination with
pathology, we become experts in our weaknesses and spend
our lives trying to repair these flaws, while our strengths
lie dormant and neglected."
Authors of this book have identified a total of 34 dominant
talents. The StrengthsFinder profile (the access code to
this online profile is found in their book) identifies your
top 5 talents.
|You anticipate activities that utilize your talent.
Take note when doing an activity. Are you thinking
present tense -- When will this be over? ... or future
tense -- When do I get to do this again? |
|Talent brings with it consistent & predictable
near-perfect results. |
|Talent generates yearnings - spontaneous reactions from
within, and a drive to repeat the behavior or feeling. |
|When talent is present, rapid learning takes place.
While using your talent, you learn at a much more rapid
speed than others around you. You can't wait to take on
the next assignment. You work or read ahead before the
next assignment is even made. |
|You feel a strong sense of satisfaction when using your
talent. It feels good! |
Manage Your Weaknesses
The authors define a weakness as "anything that gets in the
way of excellent performance." They suggest five
strategies to manage weaknesses as you strive to build your
life around your strengths:
1. Hunker down and get a little better at it (whatever the
2. Design a support system that will stop you from worrying
about a weakness so you can spend more time thinking about
how to refine a strength. For example, if you are not
naturally organized, your support system could be as simple
as a weekly appointment with yourself to clear your desk
and file papers away every Friday before you leave the
3. Use one of your strongest themes to overwhelm your
4. Find a partner to handle the areas that are not
strengths for you.
5. Acknowledge that this is not an area of strength for you
and simply stop doing it.
Get Clear and Get Focused
What would life be like if you were to capitalize on your
strengths and manage your weaknesses?
My StrengthsFinder profile confirmed that I am already relying most heavily on
my signature themes. Since I have done a lot of personal development
work with other quality assessment tools,
there were no surprises here for me. The profile confirmed
what I already knew about myself.
The StrengthsFinder Profile is designed to help you
pinpoint your signature themes, but should never be the
only means by which you identify them. If you think you
have a particular talent, the authors suggest that you
monitor it over the next two months by jotting down some
notes as you observe your own behavior and feelings as they
relate to a particular talent. I've created a template to
help you monitor that. You can copy and paste it by
visiting: http://www.orgcoach.net/newsletter/identify.html .
Create the Life You Want
Here's a recipe for creating the life that you want:
The clearer you are about your own natural talents, the
more you can streamline and strengthen your efforts.
Clarifying your natural talents will help you stay focused
on what skill sets and knowledge you need to develop.
Whatever you set your mind to, you will be most successful
and feel most fulfilled when you craft your role to play to
your most dominant talents.
- Be clear about your own unique talents.
- Develop needed skills that will enable you to use your
- Add knowledge - both factual and experiential /
A Positive Mindset is the Foundation for Success
Donít limit your thinking, as this will limit your beliefs and these will limit your actions, which will limit your successes! Success starts in our minds and the sooner we understand this, the better a chance we have at achieving it.
The Top 7 Signs of Self-Sabotaging Behaviors
Are you being held back from success by self-defeating behaviors? Learn
how to recognize and overcome them.
Visualize, and Get It
Your mind is your mental workshop.
You can build anything you want in it.
The beginning of your success is in your imagination.
What can I do to
SUCCESS, beginning now, is entirely on what you do beginning TODAY!
Successful people have a future orientation. They are also action
oriented not excuse oriented.
Copyright 2005 Kathy Paauw
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