3 Knowing what I have to offer − strengths
A common explanation of the difference between strengths and skills is that strengths are innate, whereas skills can be learned and developed. For example, our natural strength might be communication, but we’ve learned the skill of writing concise reports.
In a career context, our strengths are also thought of as the skills we have that we most enjoy using. Occupations, roles or situations that allow us to use those strengths are likely to lead to personal satisfaction.
Another useful way to think about it, is that using your strengths energises you, whereas other activities might feel draining.
Simply knowing your strengths won’t necessarily lead you to a new career path, but evidence suggests that looking for opportunities to use your strengths in new ways does have the potential to make you happier (Seligman et al. 2005, p.416).
Activity 3 Using my strengths
Think about the things you do, in work or outside, that really energise and enthuse you. List them in the box below.
Now choose one of those activities and analyse the skills you are using when you do it, for example, communicating with others, organising something, being creative, etc. List them in the box below.
Of the skills you have just listed, which are the ones that make you feel energised when you use them? Is it all of them or just certain ones? List them here:
The skills that you listed in the last box are your strengths.
This is a quick exercise, and if you found it useful, you could go back and repeat it for all the activities that you enjoy. Are there any strengths that come up again and again?
When you have a clear picture of your strengths you can add them to your personal brand.
If you struggled to define your strengths in Activity 3, there are many lists of skills and strengths available online or in print. Holloway (2017, p.39) gives a useful selection that are more nuanced than most, including the following:
- telling engaging stories
- extracting key points
- creating order from chaos
- never ever give up
- never miss a deadline
- create harmony in a team
- researching new concepts
- effortlessly funny
- unfaltering focus
- up to the minute knowledge
- ultra-calm in a crisis
- intuitive empathy
- technologically savvy
- nurturing a network
- stress-testing ideas.
Do you have any strengths on that list that you could use in new ways in your current role(s)?
As well as communicating your values and strengths, your personality is an important element of your personal brand, and you’ll consider that in the next section.