by Ashley Heintzelman, M.A.
Strengths can be defined as “characteristics that allow a person to perform well or at their personal best”. The recent movement toward positive psychology is trying to renew our attention to the study of strengths and the research in this area brings good news: using one’s strongest characteristics leads to increased well-being and superior performance!
There is a big difference between possessing and using one’s strengths. For instance, think of a person who is highly artistic but never uses this talent, compared to an individual who intentionally creates opportunities to use his or her creative abilities to achieve their personal or career goals. Naturally, the unblocked use of one’s strength will lead to the most benefits.
How often do you focus on your personal strengths? Take a look at the questions below. How many questions do you answer with “yes”?
- I am regularly able to do what I do best.
- I always play to my strengths.
- I always try to use my strengths.
- I achieve what I want by using my strengths.
- I use my strengths everyday.
- I use my strengths to get what I want out of life.
- My work gives me lots of opportunities to use my strengths.
- My life presents me with lots of different ways to use my strengths.
- Using my strengths comes naturally to me.
- I find it easy to use my strengths in the things I do.
- I am able to use my strengths in lots of different situations.
- Most of my time is spent doing the things that I am good at doing.
- Using my strengths is something I am familiar with.
- I am able to use my strengths in lots of different ways.
If you answered “no” for many of the questions above, you may not be performing at your best. Get to know your personal strengths by paying attention to what comes natural to you. Do work that allows you to do what you do best and be aware of activities where you experience the feeling of being “in flow” and you are totally absorbed in what you are doing. These things will happen when your activities fit with your unique strengths. Remember to build in opportunities in your life to use your strengths because using your strengths can help you achieve your goals!
Wood, A. M., Linley, A. P., Maltby, J., Kashdan, T. B., & Hurling, R. (2010). Using personal and psychological strengths leads to increases in well-being over time: A longitudinal study and the development of the strengths use questionnaire. Personality and Individual Differences, 50, 15-19.