Growing Your Strengths: Day 16 of 40 DAYS OF GROWTH

From Friday 19th January, everyday for 40 days, I will be sharing something each day that has either (1) changed my way of thinking or perspective, (2) helped me get through a challenging period of transition, change or growth, or (3) changed my life for the better. I've called it '40 Days of Growth'. I'd love it if you followed along with me on this journey - contributing what has also helped you to learn, grow and change. And, if I can support you on your own learning journey, please do let me know 😃

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Due to becoming injured unexpectedly last week and needing time to recover, I got a few days behind on posting daily. So, I will create a brief series of posts that detail 5 key ways to becoming more self-aware. Because, at the end of the day, knowing yourself is a great thing - you're the person that you spend the most time with. Well, of course, unless you're a conjoined twin... But, let's not go down that rabbit hole here. So, Days 15-20 of 40 DAYS OF GROWTH will be: 5 days to greater Self-Awareness.

 

CONTEXT: This series of posts was inspired by a woman that I met at a friend's birthday party in the weekend who said that her manager told her she "needed to become more self-aware". She seemed totally lost about how to go about doing this. My attempt at answering it included "have you thought of trying reflection, journalling, meditation or asking multiple people for feedback?" After going away and doing a bit of research on what the management and leadership development thought leaders advise people on gaining greater self-awareness it turns out I wasn't far off! Which brings me to...

 

Embracing Your Strengths

Day 16 of 40 DAYS OF GROWTH

 

What are strengths?

Positive psychology defines a strength as

“a capacity for feeling, thinking, and behaving in a way that allows optimal functioning in the pursuit of valued outcomes” (Snyder & Lopez, 2007).

Note that strengths and 'natural talents' are often used interchangeably in the positive psychology literature. They're essentially the things that you are naturally good at and find it easier to get better at than others.

 

Why is focusing on your strengths important?

It's useful to refer to positive psychology here as well. There are numerous articles and papers written about the benefits of focusing on your strengths. A few reasons include:

  1. Using your strengths makes you happier. Studies have found that people who use their strengths have higher levels of well-being (subjective & psychological). Using your strengths in new and different ways every day is linked to higher levels of happiness and lower levels of depression - SOURCE.
  2.   Using your strengths gives you more energy and vitality.  Utilising your strengths is associated with higher levels of psychological vitality (“energy”) - SOURCE.
  3. Using your strengths decreases stress levels. Research has found that the use of strengths has been shown to be associated with lower levels of stress. Higher strengths = lower stress - SOURCE.

Focusing on your strengths means you're more likely to enjoy your professional and personal life. After all, who really wants to be stuck in a job or a relationship that they're unhappy with and not using their natural talents in?

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Knowing what your strengths are is incredibly valuable when you're being interviewed for job interviews by recruiters or hiring managers! Employers like self-awareness and knowing your strengths means you and the recruiter will more easily know whether you'd be suited for the job. 'What is your greatest strength? or: What are your top 3 strengths (and weaknesses)?' are common interview questions and good to be prepared for 😃

Following on from yesterday's blog post about personality types: 16 Personalities has sections within each personality type called 'strengths and weaknesses'. This is also useful to know about - for example, ISFJ strengths and weaknesses 😃

 

Almost 18 Million People Worldwide (!) have Discovered their Strengths

NOTE: the rest of this blog will focus on the most commonly used strengths assessment.

Over the past 2 decades, Gallup has surveyed more than 10 million people worldwide on the topic of employee engagement (i.e. how positive and productive people are at work), and only one-third "strongly agree" with the statement: "At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day". This statistic blows my mind when, for most people, we spend at least one-third of our life at work. Enjoying this time and using our talents is, sadly, a reality for less than half of the world's population. When so many statistics come out of work forces of difficulties keeping employees engaged, mental health issues and stress-related illnesses, it's clear that finding ways for people to get more satisfaction and enjoyment out of their work should be a priority.

"Gallup studies indicate that people who do have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general" - StrenghthsFinder 2.0.

The above statistic (almost 18 million people worldwide have discovered their strengths) comes from the Gallup/Clifton Strengths Solutions website. These people have done the online test that comes from after reading the book 'StrengthsFinder 2.0' (costs approximately $30 for buying the book with a login code to do the test). The findings and recommendations in the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 are rooted in more than 40 years of research. The assessment has helped millions discover and develop their natural talents. See: Gallup Strengths Centre.

Examples of strengths include: Adaptability, Analytical, Communication, Empathy, Focus, Harmony, Learner, Positivity, Responsibility and Strategic - among numerous others.

 Highly recommend investing in this book (includes access to the online assessment) - the self-knowledge that it provides is invaluable!

Highly recommend investing in this book (includes access to the online assessment) - the self-knowledge that it provides is invaluable!

 

Example - Jen Y's Top 5 Strengths:

  1. INPUT - this means that I am inquisitive and that I collect things (like information, resources and/or things, e.g. books). I'm a natural researcher and collector of 'ideas' that help me and others. I use this strength in doing paid research, teaching, facilitation, coaching and mentoring work.
  2. CONNECTEDNESS - this means that I see and create connections between ideas, people and situations. My awareness that we're all connected in some way creates my value system - I am considerate, caring and accepting of others. Part of this means that I am often a 'bridge builder' between people and within teams - a natural mediator, counsellor and coach.
  3. LEARNER - this strength means that I LOVE, LOVE to learn. The whole process of it excites me. So, working in the field of learning and development, leadership and development and working in a teaching and facilitation capacity means that I am always learning - from colleagues, from resources and, most importantly, from clients and students.
  4. INTELLECTION - this means that I like mental activity and I enjoy musing and reflecting. I have an incredibly rich inner life - contemplating societal issues, how I can better serve others, why things are so and reflecting on my experiences. Whenever I have spare time between meetings and I'm without technology, you'll either find me staring out at the water contemplating life, journalling or talking with a friend who understands my ways of thinking.
  5. EMPATHY - this means that I sense the emotions of those around me. Intuitively, I am able to see the world through their eyes and share their perspective. "This instinctive ability is powerful. You hear the unvoiced questions. You anticipate the need. Where others grapple for words, you seem to find the right words and the right tone...".

 

Questions for you

What are your strengths? Have you done the StrengthsFinder 2.0 test or a similar test? If so, how do you use your strengths in your professional and personal life?

 

As always, I'd LOVE to hear your comments in the comments section below, or feel free to contact me via my different social media channels. Let's be social!

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Love,

Jen Y