- Understand the 3 benefits of identifying and understanding your strengths.
- A couple of ways to find your strengths .
- How understanding your strengths can lead to your happiness.
- Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Additional information can be found on my disclaimers page.
The sun is bright and mixed with the salty humid breeze coming off the ocean I am trying to decide if I need to try to inhale or swallow the thick muggy air. I only walked out of my room minutes ago but the sweat is already soaking through my shirt as is so often the case in these deployment areas.
Today’s game, Speedball.
If you haven’t heard of it you probably haven’t spent much time deployed around the SOF community. A hybrid of football, handball, and ruby whose rules change depending on the unit you are playing with.
We are set to pick teams and the two “Team Captains” begin to pick individuals. It is a natural process that we have been doing since we were kids. Our selections of people are based on their strengths and the likelihood that their involvement on the team will assist in our team being victorious.
We can identify these strengths in others pretty easily, but we often struggle to identify them in ourselves. Hedonic adaptation is a process that naturally occurs in our everyday lives. Defined, Hedonic Adaptation is the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes. Put another way it is why that new car doesn’t feel so new after a week. This elevated state returns to a baseline and it becomes the new norm. This is why we have a hard time identifying our strengths, they just become part of our new base line.
Why Do We Need to Know Our Strengths?
Understanding your strengths can benefit you in 3 key ways. When we identify our key strengths it normally allows us to do our best work. It allows us to enter a “flow state.” A “Flow State,” allows us to get lost in our work, to completely focus on one task. As a result of the first two, we find more happiness in that work.
When we think of professional athletes, we think of extraordinary people that are really good at their game. Looking at team sports in particular, players have certain strengths that make them valuable to the team. In baseball for instantaneous, a third basemen trains and practices differently than a catcher, or a pitcher. Each player has their individual strengths for each position. When combined with all the other positions, they individually assist the team as a whole.
In football, Tom Brady’s strengths allow him to be one of the best quarterbacks in the game. His same strengths would make him a horrible running back. By understanding his own strengths, he is able to understand how he best fits into the team. This then leads to both his and the team’s success. You can argue, that by trying to strengthen his weaknesses, his strengths actually become weaker as well.
When you are working in areas that you are naturally stronger, there is less effort to do more work. A natural consequence is that you can find yourself in a flow state or “the zone” working for hours. Have you ever experienced this? Do you remember what you were doing when you experienced this state? Odds are you were doing work in one of your strengths.
In a study by Shiri Lavy & Hadassah Littman-Obadiah in 2016 titled, “My Better Self: Using Strengths at Work and Work Productivity, Organizational Citizenship Behavior, and Satisfaction.” The authors found that people who utilize two or more of their top five strengths lead to higher productivity. In the same study participates also experienced greater job satisfaction and increased engagement. The more of your signature strengths your job utilized, the happier and more engaged you were at work.
How Can We Find Our Strengths?
There are a couple exercises that we can use to find our strengths on our own. We can do these exercises ourselves or with the help of some close friends.
Self Test. The first one comes from “Will it Fly” by Pat Flynn, He calls it the history test. I recommend checking out his book and the free companion course. “Will it fly” is written to help find and validate a business idea, but we can use this exercise to help us find our strengths. This exercise is pretty simple. Think about all your past jobs, positions or roles that you have held in the past.
On a blank piece of paper right down:
- What the experience was
- When it occurred
- 3 things you enjoyed about it
- 3 things you did not enjoy
- Your favorite memory
- Grade it A through F
Taking three to five experiences, look at the results you should be able to see some similarities. You see patterns in both the positive and negative aspects. There may be easier ways to do this but it will work. The hard work comes on the back end in trying to interpret the results.
Phone or ask a Friend/s. Sometimes we are blinded to our strengths because we think everyone has the same abilities that we do. If you face this issue, then maybe you can ask some of your close friends what your strengths are. You text or email them one or all of the questions below;
- What advice would they seek from you?
- Is there anything I do well that you wish you could do?
- What are three things you find I am good at?
- Out of all your friends you come to me for…
You can also just ask them what they think your strengths are. Most friends will have a pretty thoughtful answer pretty quickly for you. These are ways of asking for strengths without sounding too weird or pathetic. Again, like the exercise above, you will begin to recognize patterns and start to create a self-portrait.
Take a Quiz. There are many online quizzes you can take that can help you figure out your strengths. I saved this one for last. Most of these you can take the test for free, but the results cost money. “Strengths Finder” is a quiz by Gallup that tests for 34 strengths. It is one of the industry’s most recognized tests and it can be applied to leadership and management. I have found that reading the results of tests they seem to have an uncanny knowledge of how I think. The reports provided the words to describe what I have just done naturally but couldn’t describe before. This can have a power effect on how you understand yourself.
Some other tests you can use for this include the Virtues In Action (VIA), Big Five personality tests, Enneagram test and the Kolbe A Index. The Gallup Strength finder, VIA, Enneagram and Big Five personality tests are more based on the Cognitive or thinking part of the brain. We might think of these as personality traits, skills, reason, knowledge, experience, and education. With the Kolbe Index this a test that identifies how you actually operate or process tasks. It is more based on doing, our drive, instincts, necessity, mental energy and talents. To complete the three parts of mind it would be the affective to do the Emotional Intelligence, EQ test as well. I have completed the first two parts and will do the emotional intelligence tests in the future.
Know Your Strengths and Find your Happiness
Having completed multiple tests, I have had similar results on all of them. In a future post I will go through my own results and try to make some assessments that will work into my future vision. I will incorporate how they help to answer my three foundational questions and how I can create habits, processes, and systems to experiment with and hopefully enhance my skills and my happiness with my work.
Have you used the history test or a version of that to find your strengths? Have you phoned or messaged your friends? Did you find their suggestions to be familiar? Have you taken any of these tests? If so, which one and did you find the results accurate? I am always curious what other people think about these tests.
- Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have experienced all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.