We hear a lot about the benefits of playing to our personal strengths but in order to do this it’s helpful to understand what strengths really are and how they should make us feel.
Personal strengths are often confused with skills. This isn’t surprising because many of our strengths are also the things we are good at, but not necessarily. One important distinguishing feature is how you feel about what you do. Let’s say you work in a shop for a living. You may be extremely competent at customer relations and ensuring the shelves remain full, but at the end of the day you feel depleted. Perhaps you accept your work with a dull resignation although a part of you feels it’s another day wasted. The ‘real’ you, you feel, somehow isn’t reflected in these activities.
The way personal strengths differ is that your activities fill you with energy. You feel like the activity is the thing you were meant to do. You feel content, even though you may be stretched and tired at the end of the day, because your motivation has come from within.
Personal strengths aren’t always obvious and it’s quite possible that most of us have untapped strengths that would only become apparent in particular circumstances, so may never even be recognized. So those times when you feel you could do something as well if not better than someone else could be a sign of your strengths waiting to be unleashed! But strengths are sometimes pointed out by others and may be things you’d never previously considered. For example, you may have been told you’re a great listener, or that you explain things well, or that you can cut through complexities and draw out the essentials. Again, while such observations may be flattering, if they mean very little to you as a person then it may be more a capability than a strength.
I started this Sharepost by mentioning the benefits of working with our strengths, so it’s a good time to outline what some of these benefits are. Growth in confidence is an important component. The more you play to your strengths the more expertise you gain and the more your self-esteem flourishes. Over time you become less anxious, less stressed and generally more content with your lot. The knock-on effect of this is better health, greater resilience and more vitality.