The Three Step Formula to Unleashing your Strengths (Step 1 – Discovering)

[This three part series will provide a step by step formula for you to begin to discover, develop, and deliberately implement your personal strengths.]

Discovering your strengths does not automatically happen in a day but it happens over a period of time. It can be similar to a funnel. A funnel is broad at the top then as it goes down it becomes narrow until there is a small hole at the very bottom. The purpose of a funnel is to allow a person to easily pour a liquid into a small whole without spilling any of the contents.

There is a similar process when it comes to discovering your personal strengths. The principle of the funnel shares the evolving progression to discovering your strengths. It says,

Discovering your strengths is a process. A person starts with a broad perspective of their strengths (Top of a funnel). Then with time and effort the person begins to have a clear perspective of their strengths (Toward the middle of the funnel). Until they have fully found their unique strengths (At the very bottom of the funnel).

I can’t say how long this process will take but know if you are being intentional about discovering your strengths, at some point you will fully find and be in your strength zone. To discover or clarify your strengths so that you can move close to your strength zone, I suggest implementing these methods:

1. Take time to experiment-

Experimenting in a variety of activities that you enjoy or have a passion to do can help you identify your strengths. The key is to participate in activities that pull at your heartstrings and desires. Take time to play or work in a variety of areas until you begin to see the activities or tasks that come easier and more natural to you. Once you begin to find those strength areas, concentrate your time on them. Allow experimenting to direct you toward your personal strengths.

2. Allow time for self-reflection and thinking-

Your past leaves clues to your strengths. Reflecting and thinking on your past life experiences and job responsibilities can assist you in discovering your areas of strengths. Pushing the pause button for a couple hours so that you can think deeply about your past is a valuable exercise. The focus of that time should be to find patterns, habits, and activities that will direct you toward the areas of your personal strengths. A few questions to think or reflect on include:

  • What activities or tasks do I produce extraordinary results when doing?
  • What activities or tasks bring energy, passion, or enjoyment when doing?
  • What activities or tasks draw my attention?
  • What specific strengths (skills or talents) are aligned with my personal purpose and vision?
  •  If I could choose what activities or tasks I could do while at work, what would they include?

3. Ask God-

For people of faith, this is a crucial element when it comes to discovering your strengths. Matthew 7:7 says, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.” When we ask and allow God to direct us toward our strengths, He will be faithful in answering our request. I’ve learned that God teaches us by leading us through different experiences so our answer might come in the form of God telling us to go or do something, which would in turn help us see our strengths. One last thing to remember, God’s timing is different than our own timing so we should not expect a direct or clear answer right away (However, He might just give you that clear answer right away).

I suggest reading my book The Leadership Mandate to learn more about how you can discover your strengths. The three ways I write about in the book include: “finding and following your purpose and passions”, “through a strengths survey”, and “asking a trusted friend or colleague.” To purchase your copy of the book, click here.

Questions: Have you been through the process of discovering your strengths? What other methods of discovering your strengths would you include?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • The first half of my life has definitely been a time of discovering my strengths. Mostly, I’ve done this by experimenting but one day realized that this was not as effective as I had hoped, not by itself anyway. Combining it with reflection & thinking & making sure asking God is first and foremost made all the difference. Now, I just try to keep life simple and focus in on the gifts, talents & interests I feel God lays on my heart and mind. At the same time, I try to be aware of the character traits that he wants to develop along with the strengths of who He created me to be. Without the character, my strengths will not end up being very effective.

    • Yes, all three working together can work powerfully! Keep focusing on where God leads you, He will always take us to great places. Character is the foundation and our strengths are just one brick of the building (Our life). Thank you for taking the time to write a great comment. I appreciate you.

  • Good list. I think another of the keys is to persevere as you touched on with God’s timing. As we pour into the funnel, regardless of how careful we are, there will be spilling, and that’s the true art of learning how to use the funnel and find our strengths.

    • Great point about the spilling part, I guess that would be the areas of weakness we need to avoid or delegate. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

  • Oh, “Good list” and analogy. Liked it!

  • Great post Dan. This is huge. When we focus on our strengths it deepens our impact and brings significance to our daily tasks.

    • It defiantly does. The key is to focus on our strengths and not our areas of weakness. Thank you for taking the time to share.

  • The experimentation part is interesting. We dont give ourselves enough opportunity to try things — just to see if they work. Lately I’ve been throwing more mud at walls, just to see if it sticks

    • Hello David,

      It’s something that we all can benefit from. Yes, “throwing mud at the walls” helps us find what works and what does not. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  • Great list Dan, I really need to work on #2 – I have a hard time reflecting. I always feel like I need to be active doing something. Thanks for the reminder.

    • I hear you, Jon. I’m a person of action and it can be hard for me to stop to think/reflect. Let’s keep trying to implement it into our life. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic.

  • Another great post Dan, I’m amazed by how you get it all done, I need to follow you for a week :)

    • Thank you Kimanzi:) It does not feel like a lot but it’s something. It’s great to have you stop by.

  • Hey Dan, great idea for a series!

    I love the idea about experimenting – we really don’t know anything about our potential, and the only way to discover more about ourselves is to keep fiddling around and trying new things.

    • Thank you, Jamie.

      Yes, getting out and doing something is crucial. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  • You may also want to take a strengths assessment such as the StandOut or StrengthsFinders tests. They can really open your eyes.

    • Yes, that’s a great method. Thank you for adding it.

  • Hey Dan, one of the ways of discovering your strengths is through simply “doing.” You gain clarity by taking the first step.

    I’ve found out many of my strengths by stumbling upon them. I’ve also discovered several strengths by simply learning what my weaknesses are.

    I look forward to parts 2 and 3 of the series. Keep it up Dan and Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Hello Larry,

      I totally agree with that! Sitting around expecting things to magically happen will never produce anything. The key is to start taking small steps. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

      Thank you, my Thanksgiving was great! How was yours?

  • Another often-overlooked way to find a strength is to ask others.

    How often I’ve been surprised to point out someone’s strengths and that person say that they were surprised. Later, they would come back and say that it made a big difference. We often don’t realize our own strengths in the same way others may. Self-reflection may illuminate strengths, but there are times when others see them immediately.

    • Hello Skip,

      Yes, that’s an important method. It’s amazing what we can learn about our self’s when we ask the people in our inner circle. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read and comment.

  • I like #2 Dan but I would tweak it to say….what do I enjoy—-cause I could be amazing at something and hate it :) Thoughtful stuff man— thinking about this in your own life? Job Transition?

    • Great additional thought. Doing something we enjoy is important. Yes, I’m defiantly thinking about this topic and am working on clarifying my own strengths. It’s something we all can benefit from doing. Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

  • Hey Dan, yes, #1 I’ve found to be very important in that you can start eliminating those experiences which don’t serve you. The more experiences you have, the more you’ll know what’s right or not for you. You’ll find out what you’re good at and what you’re not good at.

    Other techniques I’ve used to my strengths is to see what I gravitate towards, what I’m good at and what I’m passionate about. Like some of the other readers have pointed out, feedback from others (external feedback) and how I personally feel about it (internal feedback) are also a couple ways that I’ve been able to determine my strengths.

    • Hello Vishnu,

      Yes, it’s important. The key is to move outside our comfort zone and take time for new experiences.

      Great point, focusing on what we enjoy or have a passion to do is crucial. I think the new experiences are easier when it’s in an area of passion. Thank you for adding to the discussion:)

  • Asking for feedback definitely has been helpful in clarifying my strengths. I’ve benefited from objective 360 feedback. It’s mind bloggling when somone notices a gem in you while I was so oblivious to it.

    • Great point about getting 360 degree feedback. I’d also add that feedback from a multitude of people (In the different areas of our life) is important. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • Great list Dan. I think asking God is so crucial. Many plan & implement, & then say, “Oh yea, God, will you bless this?” But we should ask God 1st. Good stuff bro.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post, yes the key is asking God and not trying to do it on our own. Thank you for sharing.

  • I have been through a similar process of discovering my strengths. Taking spiritual gifts tests and personality profiles were eye opening for me. In addition, I took time to write out my story and to identify the key turning points in my life.

    • Taking time to write out our story and then reflecting on it is a brilliant idea! Thank you for reading and adding to the topic.

  • I think experimenting is a crucial element that a lot of people leave out. I personally have discovered strengths that I didn’t know I had but only found out by just simply trying things.

    • That’s great! It sounds like you have seen the results from experimenting. Keep doing it!

  • Great tips. I especially like what you say about allowing time for self-reflection and thinking. To me, that’s when I find my areas of strength. As a sidenote, it helps me find my areas of weakness too. In general, self-reflection is just a great way to get to know yourself. it’s surprising how often we don’t understand something about ourselves until we do that introspection.

    I think getting good feedback helps too. When someone who knows you can give you an outside perspective. It can really help.

    • Great thoughts, Steve! I’ve found thinking/self-reflection is difficult in our fast pace culture but it’s so beneficial. Good point about it allowing us to see our weakness. I always enjoy your comments:)

  • Sue Neal

    Hi, Dan – an interesting post. I think it’s amazing how often we fail to recognise our own strengths (and weaknesses, sometimes!) In addition to the tips you’ve given here, I’ve found listening to honest feedback from other people is invaluable and can help us recognise where our real talents lie.

    • Hello Sue,

      I totally agree, it’s can be difficult to see the strengths and weakness that we have. Yes, honest feedback from trusted people can help us identify our strengths. Thank you for reading and sharing.