Leading and working in your strengths is essential. In my book, The Leadership Mandate, I said “Your strength zones are the areas that come easily to you, cause you to be efficient, and allow you to produce high levels of results when working in them.” We often hear the why of working in your strengths, like enjoying the work and producing outstanding results. Today, I want to share how a person can start or continue to find their areas of strengths until they are fully working in their strength zones. To find your strengths we can apply these three methods: finding your purpose or passions, asking a friend or colleague, and spending time thinking and reflecting. Let us discuss each method in detail.
1. Find your Purpose or Passions
Speaker and author Brad Lomenick said, “Calling (or your life purpose) is the intersection where your greatest strengths and deepest passions come together. Finding that sweat spot is paramount.” Your purpose, passions, and strengths are all intimately connected to each other. When you start to find your purpose and/or your areas of passions, it will naturally direct you toward your greatest areas of strength.
I’ve been through this process myself. I listened to a leadership audio CD lesson by John C. Maxwell when I was 19 years old. This was the first time I really heard the topic of leadership being taught and it created a passion inside of me to learn about leadership. The passions started my personal growth journey to learn everything I could on the topic of leadership. Over the next several years I grew in my knowledge of leadership and had the opportunity to be in different leadership roles. While doing this, I felt a deep inner calling that my life purpose had to do with leadership and equipping people to influence others. In finding my purpose and passions it directed me to my areas of strengths related to influencing others.
Those who want to find or clarify their areas of strengths can start finding their life purpose or areas of passions. Find and focus on one of those areas and the other two areas will follow.
2. Ask a Friend or Colleague
An effective method to finding your strengths is to begin asking the people closest to you (like family or friends) and/or those who see you regularly perform your work tasks (like colleagues or a supervisor). Those who are closest to you and see you on a regular basis can often identify your areas of strengths and weakness. It can be hard for an individual to see their own strengths, while it can be as clear as ever for someone else to see them. Therefore, we must start asking friends and colleagues what they can see regarding your areas of strengths. The more you ask the quicker you can begin to find your areas of strengths.
Before you start asking, I want to provide guidance for you. You will want to make sure the person you are asking is trustworthy, honest, and has your best interest in mind. Those are key elements you want to make sure the person has before you ask them. When those key elements are at work then the person will likely share true and relevant information about your strengths. If those elements are missing a follower or colleague might tell you things they think you want to hear but that are not actually accurate when it comes to your areas of strengths.
Wisely chose the people you ask, and you will find yourself closer to finding your strengths.
3. Spend time Thinking and Reflecting
American Economist Abby Joseph Cohen said,
“Step back and really think about what you do well. What kind of work comes easily to you? In what work situations did time seem to fly by and when did it drag? Be honest with yourself about what your good at and what you enjoy doing.”
Everyone’s life leaves clues to what their strengths include. You can begin to discover the clues to your strengths by taking time to think and reflect on your life. Spending time thinking about past and current life experiences, successes & failures, recreational activities, jobs positions & work responsibilities, can help you find your areas of strengths. You should look for activities and/or tasks you have consistently done extraordinarily well in and that lead to outstanding results when done.
Start by spending small blocks of time (5-20 minutes) every week to think and reflect on your past (remember to write down the clues along the way) until you have enough clues that point at your strengths.
Here is a bonus method to finding your strengths (click the title): One Effective way to Finding your Strengths.
Questions: How have you found your strengths? Which methods have worked for you?