Everyone of us has at least five key personal strengths but surprisingly few of us use them often enough to enjoy the increased happiness, gratification and sense of wellbeing that comes from doing so. According to Linley (2010) the majority of polls show that the 80 percent of people who believe that improved performance comes from eliminating their weaknesses just don’t invest in identifying or building their strengths.
If you are among those who are unwittingly or otherwise caught in this trap please consider parking your reservations just for long enought to explore just how you might go about building your strengths. The following easy-to-do five exercises will help you to develop a plan of action that will increase your strengths.
The first thing to do is identify your personal strengths. Simply guessing what they are is not sufficient you need to do a much deeper analysis if you are to make real headway. If you have not already done so I suggest you use the suite of tools described in my blog “Five Tools for identifying your strengths” posted on 5 April, 2011. Just scroll down this page to find it.
Select your top personal strength and establish as accurately as possible how many hours you spent using it yesterday and each day of the week gone by. Do the same with each of the the remainder of your five top personal strengths. Provided this is a typical week the results are a fair measure of the amount of work you need to do and provide a baseline against which you can measure your progress.
Use the same method to establish how much time you spend using each of your top five personal strengths at work. Analysis under the four headings, Frequently, Sometimes, Rarely and Never will bring the results into sharp focus. It is worth remembering that very few people are lucky enough to have a job that provides the opportunity to use all of their top five personal strengths. Most jobs require us to use learned behaviours at which we can become quite proficient but these come nowhere near providing the level of satisfaction and absorbing engagement as use of your personal strengths do.
If your job doesn’t provide much opportunity for you to use your personal strengths you can use your leisure pursuits to make up the deficiency. Begin by finding how much of your leisure time you currently spend using your top personal strengths. You can use the same method for this as you used in Exercise: 3 for your job. The combined outcomes of both of these exercises will give a pretty accurate read of your use of personal strengths and the scope your job and leisure pursuits offer you to increase your use of them. You should also consider reviving old leisure pursuits that you once engaged in that potentially offer a lot of scope for the use of your personal strengths.
Set SMART goals for increasing each of your top five goals. Do this for one strength at a time beginning at the top and work down until you have all five covered. Of course you could also decide to just do your top strength and work at increasing it over the next three months before moving on to the others. Scroll down to my blog “Setting Goals” posted on 1 March, 2011 for details of how to go about setting SMART goals.
Reference: Linley, A. (2010) The Strength Book. Capp Press, Coventry, United Kingdom