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  • Samantha Morrell

knowing your strengths

As a kid, you always wanted to be an actor. You rehearsed your lines night-and-day for weeks for your high school play’s audition.

You were ecstatic with how your audition went. When the cast list was finally posted, the part you auditioned for went to someone else, someone who you know didn’t spend as much time working for it like you did.

Let’s consider another scenario. You’re a devoted and loyal employee. An internal higher-level position opens up that you think is a perfect fit. You interview and feel you nailed it. When the HR Manager calls, you’re stunned to hear it went to someone else. Someone else got the position you wanted and felt you deserved.


Knowing Your Strengths

After the initial shock and disappointment both individuals had upon learning they didn’t get their role/position, they developed a better understanding of why that role/position would not have been the best fit. First, they both realized they were focused too much on what they wanted instead of what they’re good at. Second, those role/positions would not have maximized their strengths.


Part of knowing what you’re good at is knowing your strengths. According to the StrengthsFinder 2.0 quiz on Gallup.com, a personality assessment used by over 21 million individuals, we all have our top 5 strengths. Tom Rath, author of StrengthsFinder 2.0, explains in his book, “We often spend time trying to build up our weaker strengths, ones that are not in our top 5, instead of using our natural strengths to get where we want. We can tend to take ‘the path of most resistance’, by forcing ourselves to try to change our weaknesses which, more often than not, forces us to stay where we are, not allowing us to go up in life.”


Tools in the Tool Box

StrengthsFinder is just one of the many tools that can help us get a better understanding of who we are and what we’re good at. Knowing our strengths helps us understand ourselves and others better, helps others understand us better and allows us to be placed in roles and positions that use our strengths to the best of our abilities. However, just taking the assessment, isn’t going to suddenly give you answers and open up doors of opportunity. While the assessment helps us understand our strengths (generally what comes natural to us), those strengths also have their weaknesses.


Understanding Your Strengths (and their weaknesses)

Once you’ve taken the assessment and been given your results, it’s important to understand the strength for its pros and cons. While it is a strength, if the strength is overplayed, it can be a con. Let’s look at some examples.


Someone has the Command strength. They may think this strength automatically qualifies them for a management position as individuals with Command tend to take charge and push people to take risks. Both are good skills for managers to have. However, not everyone likes to be managed in a commanding way. This can lead to conflict. And too much pushing can leave others feeling intimidated.

Someone's strength is Consistency. People with the Consistency strength like to take time to ensure that each project they work on uses the same format and are cohesive with each other. Balance is important. They want to be predictable and fair. Great qualities. However, this can be time-consuming and can lead to issues of resistance if given a different format or change happens too quickly.


Let's ponder the Significance strength. People with the Significance strength fill life with goals and achievements. Significance pulls them from the mediocre to the exceptional. It keeps them always reaching for more. All great qualities for achieving success. However, they also want to stand out, be known and be admired. This need to be known may be a turn-off to others.


Using Your Strengths

Now, let's go back to the stories at the beginning. The want-to-be actor showed the strength of Ideation. They had an idea of what they wanted and spent time working to get the role. While they didn’t get that role, instead, they were cast for the lead role. The casting director saw their strength of Achiever in the audition. That was a strength they desired for the lead.


As for the employee who didn’t get the higher-level position, the HR Manager gained a better understanding of this individuals’ strengths through the interview process. HR reached out to them when a different management position opened up that was better suited for someone with their strengths of Connectedness and Positivity.


Understanding your strengths will not only be helpful to you, your family and your organization, it will also help you find roles in life that suite you well and have you feeling comfortably challenged and fulfilled by the work you do.


Do you know your strengths?

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