One Effective way to Finding your Strengths


William Blake said, “The true method of knowledge is experiment.” Experimenting in a variety of activities can help you to find your areas of strength. The key is to participate in the activities you enjoy, have a passion for, and that pull at your deepest heartstrings. You should play or work in a variety of areas until you begin to see the activities or tasks which come easier and more natural to you. When you begin to find your areas of strengths then concentrate your time on them. Allow the power of experimenting to direct you toward your personal strengths. In Now, Discover Your Strengths, Donald O. Clifton said this about experimenting until you begin to identify your areas of strengths:

There is one sure way to identify your greatest potential for strength: Step back and watch yourself for a while. Try an activity and see how quickly you pick it up, how quickly you skip steps in the learning and add twists and kinks you haven’t been taught yet. See whether you become absorbed in the activity to such an extent that you lose track of time. If none of these has happened after a couple of months, try another activity and watch-and another. Over time your dominant talents will reveal themselves, and you can start to refine them into a powerful strength.

I once was doing a coaching season with someone based around my book The Leadership Mandate, 10 Essential Elements To Developing The Leader Within You. The main element we were discussing during the call was becoming strength-based, specifically about how he could begin to discover his areas of strengths. I asked him a few questions along the lines of: What are the things you enjoy doing? What tasks come easy for you? What activities allow you to produce a high level of results?

He started to tell me about all of the different things he was doing both online and offline. The extensive list included: writing self-help content, life coaching, computer coding, creating websites, traveling, starting business, taking college classes, being involved with non-profits, and a range of other activities. He was doing the activities and tasks he felt drawn to do. In essence he was experimenting with a variety of activities to determine his areas of strengths and those he is the best at. He later told me he was beginning to see common tasks and activities which were causing him to be the most productive and produce high levels of results. If he continues to experiment, refine, and focus on the areas he is best at soon enough he will begin to discover his areas of strengths.

You can do the same thing if you chose to experiment with a variety of tasks and activities. Two practical ways on how you can begin to experiment include:

1. Asking your boss to do a task or be in a role (for a trial period) outside your normal work responsibilities.


2. Participate in a new activity, hobby, or experience during your free time. Select one you have never done or always wanted to do.

Find your strengths by beginning to experiment.

Question: How has experimenting allowed you to find or use your areas of strengths? Which of the above 2 ways of experimenting should you start doing?

Subscribe to Dan Black on Leadership to receive fresh leadership content delivered to you inbox (2-3 times a week). PLUS two free quote books. All you need to do is to enter your email in the box below then push “Subscribe”:

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

Leave a Reply to Takis Athanassiou Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

20 thoughts on “One Effective way to Finding your Strengths

  1. Dan, I’ve found this be true in my own life. In my first full-time job, I had the opportunity to write & produce video features on football and basketball players. After I left that job, I didn’t think much about writing until a couple of years later, when I was taking an online course that led me to write out my story and examine my strengths. Somehow, I had overlooked writing all of these years. That’s when I began experimenting by blogging, and I haven’t stopped writing since then.

  2. First, I agree with this approach for discovering strengths as well as likes/dislikes. I do have a couple of cautions to throw out there when using this approach. First, sometimes we don’t like what we’re good at. For example, I am good at newspaper writing, but I don’t like it. I learned that in college by experimenting as you suggest here. Second, I think there needs to be a decision of a specific path (maybe narrowing as we go along is a better way to say it) though. We can spend much of our lives experimenting and never make any significant progress in any one area. This is a mistake I made for many years, and I now feel a bit behind where I should be in some areas. Just some additional food for thought.

    • Great point, it needs to be something we are strong at and that we enjoy. Great points about a “specific path,” I totally agree! We have to be making progress in our experimenting toward our areas of strengths/passions. At some point we have narrow our experimenting. Thank you for adding your thoughts.

    • Some more thoughts Kari. We are good at what we do, when we have done a lot of “things” to get us there. There is an effort and a time spent on this “path”, even if, later, we do not like the how good we became in a path we firstly, do not approve!

      You experiment in the filelds you want to excel (I, for instance, I do a lot of cooking experiments, but I do not like – or even want – to be a chef [perhaps later in my life, …]) BUT I spend time, effort, energy and focus to provide the best in my family (and to the people who can tolerate of my cooking)! I do not know if this fits as an ability, but it is important to share with other people not only food but the intention as well!!!! (chanoyu – the japanese tea ceremony – it does not has only a skill – a very great one, indeed – but an intention too, directed to YOU [each of you], Kari)

      For your second intervention, I would say about Yosi! Yosi was a fellow MA (his first MA. He has done 4!!!) Japanese postgraduate student in Hull University (England). He was training in marathon run and he was in harry to finish his MA to have a “real job” (back home, in Japan). We always envy Yosi, but, very few of us, imitate him!

      So the final word, Kari, would beQ You choose to cultivate some skills, compared to the ones in the mainstream might looked like “obsolete” but I refuse to let you believe that you left behind! You should give permission to yourself to experiment with the things you are not good at, and think why (you are so good at)?

      Just a further thought (s), Kari!

      • Thank you for the further thought, Takis. I do need the balance my regret over doing too much and not focusing with letting myself try a variety of things still to stretch myself. My approach is to be simple in all I do. I want to become an expert in a few areas (writing & Bible teaching) while letting myself try new and different things in other areas to stretch me. I think this is what you’re advising?

  3. I like the encouraging of doing new things and taking chances. I think that’s where a person finds success in life; not being stuck in fear and letting it rule their lives.

    Being willing to take risks and try new things has worked out fairly well for me… not to mention it has kept life pretty interesting!

  4. I have certainly live this kind of life that calls for stepping outside the comfortable and risking failure for the sake of learning. thanks God He steps with us and even encourages us to do this. At my age there are things I know I do not enjoy and a few I love to do. I have few fears anymore and am never bored.
    It takes as much courage to stop something that is not working then it does to start a new idea or dream. Knowing what ones is not good at a certain thing opens up time, space and mind to try something new. No one wants to be a quitter but those who have been successful were willing to try again or start something new. the fact we can chose is freedom. This is a great post Dan…

    • Hi Betty,

      Amen! God is always beside us, especially when we are stepping out of our comfort zone. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I always enjoy your wise comments.

      Ps. Whenever I try to comment on your blog the comment does not post for whatever reason. Just wanted you to know:)

  5. Love it Dan! With my career coaching clients, finding strengths is absolutely something that we do. I agree that people usually enjoy their strengths, so whether they’ve been aware of them or not, they have probably found they are things they have enjoyed or been successful at. Looking at your past and finding where this has been true is useful.

  6. Very cool! I’ve recently started experimenting with photography and videography. I think one of the added perks of trying new things is that it can inform current strengths you already have and improve them. It’s important to eventually focus in on a few core skills but I think the journey to discovering what those core skills might be is also part of what equips you to excel in them. Great post. Really good read.