How to Identify and Play to Your Strengths

Written by on September 14, 2014 in Conscious Living, Inspirational with 1 Comment

Astrid BaumgardnerContributor

Our culture is rampant with negativity.  From report cards to annual reviews at work to billboard advertising, we tend to hear what’s wrong with us, where we are weak and what we need to do in order to improve.  Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a society where everyone’s talents were recognized, validated, encouraged and admired? That’s why strengths are such a positive factor in creating success:  they tell you what is right with you.  
Strengths are the tendencies and skills at which you naturally excel.  Strengths can be developed, deepened and even resuscitated after lying dormant for many years.

My message to clients is to play to your strengths.  It is one of the keys to creating success in your life.

In my experience, you are more likely to reach your goals and be a success if you are doing things that you are good at.  You can read about my own experience playing to strengths in my piano life where my choice of repertoire can make the difference between extreme frustration and total self-mastery!  It’s much easier to play to your strengths rather than compensate for weaknesses. The more you develop your natural talents, the stronger they become.  And, the more you use your strengths, the less of a struggle life becomes.

Find Your Strengths

The first step in working with strengths is to identify them.  There are a number of good strengths assessments that are easily accessible.  One is the StrengthsFinder 2.0 based on research by the Gallup Organization.  This assessment measures your strengths as you have applied them.  Another is the VIA Character Strengths Profile which measures character and values.  It stands for “Values In Action”.  Since each assessment measures slightly different aspects of your talents, it is enlightening to take both of them.

Use Your Strengths

Once you know your strengths, consider how well you are living your strengths.   Often, people who experience a lack of fulfillment in their lives may not be using their strengths enough.

One of my clients, for example, loves to take things from good to great (this is the “Maximizer” strength in StrengthsFinder 2.0).  For example, she was excited when she was asked to take on a project at work that had the potential for improving the overall level of performance at her organization.  She became frustrated because she perceived that her co-workers were satisfied with the status quo and unwilling to take the project seriously.  Her first step was to use her “Empathy” strength to figure out what would motivate her co-workers.  Putting these two strengths together helped her to inspire her co-workers to sign onto the project so that they could all work together to take the organization from good to great.  She is feeling a lot better about her job these days now that she can put her strengths to work!

Another helpful strategy is to apply a strength in all areas of your life, not simply to your career.   One of my other clients has a top strength of achievement, which has motivated him to achieve remarkable results in his composing career.  Yet he felt that his personal life was lacking.  We figured out that he could apply his achievement strength to his relationships and to creating more free time, leading him to set goals around meeting new people, expanding his network and carving out time for fun. And because he is so good at accomplishing his goals, in no time he was achieving in these other areas and feeling much better about the quality of his life.

Embrace Your Strengths

Your strengths are your inherent talents and your potential for excellence.  They are your natural way of doing things easily.  So embrace those strengths and don’t fight them!

For example, one of my clients is frustrated that he has not figured out his career path yet.  He is someone with the Input strength:  collecting and storing information and then making the “aha” connections when you have amassed enough information to make the right decisions.  Recognizing his input strength made him realize that it takes time to gather this information.  As a result, he relishes the notion that his life right now is a series of experiments where he is taking in the information that will enable him to make the right choices.

Since input is one of my strengths as well, I have learned how to embrace this strength and tie all the different strands of learning in my life to my own career as a coach and teacher.

What are your strengths?  How are you using them?  Once you begin to play to your strengths, I bet you will find that things will come much more easily to you. And if you do not have opportunities to use your strengths, see what you can do to change that up.

About the Author

Astrid Baumgardner, JD, PCC is a professional life coach and lawyer, Coordinator of Career Strategies and Lecturer at the Yale School of Music and the founder and President of Astrid Baumgardner Coaching + Training, which is dedicated to helping musicians, lawyers and creative professionals take charge of their lives and experience authentic success.  In addition to her work at YSM and her individual coaching practice, Astrid presents workshops at leading conservatories and law firms on topics including Career Planning, Goal-Setting, Time Management, Dynamic Communication, Conflict Management and  Personal Branding and Networking.  She is the author of numerous articles on the various aspects of how to achieve and live authentic success.

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  1. How To Identify And Focus On Your Strengths | The Tom Hitchens Community | September 18, 2014

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