The Three Step Formula to Unleashing your Strengths (Step 2 – Developing)

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

The gap between where you are now to where you desire to be in the future is your potential. A key aspect to reaching your maximum potential is to make the investment to develop your personal strengths. Developing your strengths will allow you to achieve higher results, be more productive, increase your leadership competence, and handle the demands of leadership.

Being specific and having measurable goals are two key ingredients to developing your strengths. Let’s discuss those two areas:

Being specific– Specific development produces specific results. To efficiently sharpen your strengths requires that you concentrate your personal development on your strength zones. I don’t recommend spending the majority of your time developing the areas outside your strength zones because these areas will require a large investment of your time and energy but will never produce a high enough return on this investment. To avoid this remember to focus your development on your areas of strengths.

Measurable goals– Seeing results on the development of your strengths requires attaching goals. I suggest setting both short and long term strengths development goals. Short term goals might include: Daily reading a book for a certain amount of time, listening to x amount of audio CDs a week, and being mentored x amount of times a month. Longer term goals might include: Starting or finishing a college education in the next 5 years or attending X amount of conferences every year. Remember that your goals should be specific to the areas of your strengths.

I often discuss the methods of personal growth and development on my blog. Briefly some of those methods include: reading, listening to audio, mentorship, attending conferences, and practice. In the remainder of this post I would like to share some qualities needed in order to develop your strengths.

Quality #1 Teachable

Being teachable is about being willing to learn and retain new information. Being teachable allows you to quickly sharpen your strengths. A person who has a teachable mindset is able to learn from anyone and any situation.

Quality #2 Disciplined

Successful people know the importance of discipline. Michael Jordan said, “I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come.” Discipline is about putting in the work required to develop fully develop your strengths.

Quality #3 Consistent

Being consistent in your development is about being intentional about daily growth. Consistency of development allows a person to move closer to their potential. This does not happen by reading a couple of books or attending a conference but through regular development.

Quality #4 Motivated

An essential quality in developing your strengths is self-motivation. The only person who will motivate yourself to grow and develop is you. I suggest finding your why when it comes to developing your strengths, your why is a powerful key when it comes to being motivated to take action on the development of your strengths.

Questions: Can you add to the list? What other qualities would you include in the list? How do you develop your personal strengths?

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

  • One way to develop our strengths is to step outside our safe walls of comfort and take action. Unless we push those boundaries, we won’t know whether our strengths are being utilized to their fullest extent. And if we find we aren’t geared for that particular area, we can always try taking a different action.

    • Hello Chris,

      I totally agree, growth happens outside our comfort zones. Thank you for reading and adding to the topic.

  • Seems to be a theme topic lately. At least, it’s a theme for me personally. I wrote about strength in my post yesterday, in fact. While the two (your post and mine) may at first seem to conflict, I don’t think they necessarily have to. I think all of what you mention happen when we come to realize that we are utterly helpless and weak on our own. When we realize this, all of these qualities begin to flourish. At least, that’s proven true in my own life. Also, I definitely agree that a focus on building on strengths needs to happen, but we can also realize that interesting avenues can come through our weaknesses too, perhaps by way of others who can rise up to help in those areas thus creating community and connection. Again, definitely a timely topic for me, and I could go on. Looking forward to Part 3.

    • Yes, without God in our life we are weak (Even though we might do things that cause us to look strong). Great point about people helping us in our areas of weakness, that’s so important. Thank you for adding your wisdom into the comment section.

  • Good list. Passion and discipline with perseverance are the foundations to begin I believe.

    • Yes they are. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  • Dan Erickson

    I’d add focused on a higher source: God.

  • The setting of goals has really helped me this past year. Before I just had the long-term goal but once I set the short term goals I realized how much I had to accomplish each week and day to reach the long-term goals. Although by nature I’m such a lazy procrastinator that I can’t do anything without going back to God again and again to see life and work from His perspective and gain the strength I need to persevere when it would be so much easier to quit.

    • Yes, those short term goals are important. It’s the pathway that allows us to achieve the big long term goals we desire. Going back to God is a good thing:) He is the life giver. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • Simple, use them. (-:

  • This is a great list Dan – I’d add “confidence” as without it someone’s strengths may go completely undeveloped and therefore under-utilised.

    • Good addition, Rick. Confidence is crucial. Thank you for sharing it.

  • I’ve been an ardent supporter of SMART goals ever since I was introduced to them in college and have made sure that all of my goals fall into those categories. I think the two you picked here are some of the most important. I’ve advised so many people to define their goals more clearly as they were frustrated they weren’t reaching them, but in actuality they weren’t quite sure what they were trying to reach. And being able to tell where you fall on the completion spectrum is incredibly important.

    I think you’ve picked some good qualities here, and I would especially focus on being teachable and motivated. We learn so much along our journeys, it’s impossible to succeed without absorbing what we’re exposed to. And for long term goals, it’s going to take time, so being self-motivated is what’s going to keep you in the game long enough to see it through to the end.

    Great thoughts, Dan.

    • “SMART” goals are the best! I believe self-motivation is one of the most important ones because success takes time and a lot of people give up way to quickly (Or right before seeing success). Each one of these qualities all added up allows us to be moving toward bigger and better things. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • If I could add one to that list it would be “focused” I find that there’s so many things that are asking for my attention and I constantly need to bring my focus back to my goals.

    • Hello Caleb,

      I’m glad you added that one. Focusing on specific goals allows us to see great results. Thank you for the comment.

  • DS

    There is an element of accountability that follows through these ideas as well. Who helps check-in on your progress? Or how do you ensure your goals/priorities stay on your radar?

    • That’s a huge point! Having systems in place that hold us accountable is essential.

      Personally, I’m currently involved in a monthly mastermind group. We discuss specific topics, share about what we are working on, set and hold each other accountable for the next months goals. Outside of those Google Hangout’s we keep in contact with each other throughout the month.

      I also try to write out my plans/goals and make sure they are present (Though this is a struggle for me and I don’t do it as much as I should). How about you?

      • DS

        I try to keep them in front of me throughout the year, as well as to review them daily. In 2013 I had them laminated which helped. However, I believe I’d accomplish more if I had greater discipline in this space.

        • Putting them in a place were we frequently see them is so important. Maybe you can find someone that will hold you accountable for your goals. Just a idea:)

  • This is really good stuff. The teachable point in particular is a biggy I think. Being able to ‘learn from anyone and any situation’.

    I always feel a big part of being able to reach goals is belief. Having a genuine conviction that it’s possible immediately makes the goal accessible and the price for reaching it affordable. The times when I struggle are when I feel vague about whether it can be done. When I feel it’s more like a ‘maybe’ or ‘hopefully’ sort of aspiration. For me, it has to be real before it’s real. If that makes sense.

    • Hello Micah,

      Yes, I’ve found that to be a essential one as well.

      Great thoughts about our goals and belief. I totally relate with that! When we have the belief and faith that we are able to accomplish a big goal or project, than it will be hard not to achieve it. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • Great list. I like that you emphasize personal responsibility. We have to decide we want to learn, that we want to do more and be more.

    • Yes, that’s a choice only we can make, no one can make it for us. Thank you for reading and adding to the topic.

  • If I were to add to the list it would be, “Be the Tortoise.”

    I’ve come to realize that success is going to be the result of a bunch of little steps compiled over a long time.

    I think another way to say this: Be persistent.

    People want microwave success/knowledge/wealth when in reality we need a crock-pot mentality.

    • That’s a great principle! We have to remember that slow progress (taking small steps) will eventually lead to the results we want. We don’t have to do it all or learn everything, we just need to be making daily progress. Staying persistent is key! Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • Your points on discipline and consistency are so huge. Without making the right choices every single day, skills cannot be developed.

    This is an awesome series btw. Looking forward to the next one!

    • Hello Kevin,

      Yes, it’s a daily choice that each person has to make.

      Thank you:) I’m really glad your enjoy it. Your a huge support.

  • Hi Dan,

    Inspiring post, indeed!

    One other point I would add to this list is to embrace failure and making mistakes. Whenever we get things wrong, we are one step closer to success.

    Thank you.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Hiten. Yes, embracing and learning from failures is so important. Thank you for sharing that:)

  • Great points Dan. To be teachable, we gotta stay humble and open. Know it all’s are not going to get very far or develop because they think — they know it all! haha

    If you think you know everything, you’re not going listen to others, be open to new information or be able to change your life.

    You can only change once you realize you need to make a change. If you never get to the point of realizing there’s a problem, a person isn’t going to try to find the solution.

    Not only is humility needed to develop your strengths but it’s also needed when you have developeD it – maybe moreso once you’re good at something, we should strive to be down to earth and humble.

    Insightful post with lots to think about here.

    • Hello Vishnu,

      Great point about staying humble, that’s an essential characteristic everyone should adapt. Thank you for adding your wisdom to the conversation.

  • I think #2 and #3 are critical. We so often want to bite off huge chunks and go from 0 – 60 in two seconds. But slow and steady is what produces results here – at least results that are sustainable.

    • Yes, those are so essential. Slowing down is difficult but so important to do. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

  • I think flexibility is also important. Well, to me that goes along with teachable. You have to be able to incorporate new ideas and ways of thinking into your mindset. If you’re too rigid, you won’t be able to fit them in. Being flexible means changing along with new information. Which I guess also leads to adaptability.

    • Yes, I totally agree with you. Being flexiable allow us to change, learn, and adapt. Thank you for adding to the discussion:)