Why is it Important to Know Your Strengths?

If I were to ask you what your strengths are, what would you say?

Would the question challenge you to speak honestly about your good qualities…make you feel uncomfortable…or both? Or would you wonder, what’s the point, and dismiss the question as irrelevant?

If you find it difficult to ‘toot your own horn’ and say aloud what makes you special….you are not alone. In fact, many of us don’t know what our strengths are in the first place, much less how to talk about them in a confident and non-egotistical manner.

In my work as a personal and professional development coach I hear many responses to this question about strengths awareness. I have identified five reasons why its important to know your own strengths – those inner qualities that make you unique.

Strengths awareness helps you to:

 

  • Know and accept yourself – Some of us don’t recognize that our unique qualities (even our idiosyncrasies) can be our strengths. We take these characteristics for granted and minimize them with statements such as Oh, that’s just me being me or I’ve always been that way. We often dismiss our strengths and can sometimes actively hide them. We may have been told, at some point in our lives, that our way of being is not acceptable or good enough. Perhaps having a natural tendency to be sensitive, social, or competitive has been minimized or criticized by the influential people in our lives…so we have learned to hide these characteristics. When you accept and develop your ‘different-ness’ it can become an asset that moves a specific team or organization towards their goals. Your contribution is unique….and is valuable for exactly that reason. Strengths awareness helps you to recognize and embrace who you are at your core.

 

  • Stay motivated and energized – Have you ever noticed that when you’re doing what you love that time seems to fly by? Hours pass in what feels like minutes because you are pursuing your passion. You’re doing what comes naturally to you and when you’ve completed the task, you realize that even though you may be physically tired you are full of an inner energy, enthusiasm, and sense of accomplishment. The reason for this phenomenon is that by using your strengths you are fed on a deep level. You are in alignment with your purpose when you use your unique gifts and talents. In contrast, when we try to force ourselves to do what does not come naturally to us we tend to be sluggish. This low energy causes us to procrastinate and delay engaging in those activities. This doesn’t excuse us from doing tasks that aren’t in our strengths spectrum. In those instances, however,  we can recognize why we are de-motivated and re-frame the task by using our strengths or partner with someone who has a passion for that task. Strengths help us to create more motivation and energy.

 

  • Release the need to be good at everything – Our educational and employment systems encourage (and sometimes insist) that we are well-rounded and good at many things. The truth is that we can’t be good at everything, but we can excel at certain things. When we focus on what we naturally do well and develop those talents and skills further, we release the pressure to excel in all areas. When we stop comparing ourselves to others and release the need to be like someone else, it frees us to develop our unique abilities. Authors Rath and Conchie, in their book Strengths-based Leadership, state “If you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything. While our society encourages us to be well-rounded, this approach inadvertently breeds mediocrity.” I believe that when you step into your strengths you step into your greatness.

 

  • Recognize your partners – When you accept that you don’t have to be good at everything and commit to developing your natural abilities, the areas where you don’t excel become apparent. An honest look at your strengths means an honest look at the gaps, or weaknesses, as well. Recognizing the gaps in our abilities may be uncomfortable, but it is necessary to develop successful partnerships. Individuals may not be well-rounded but the most successful teams are. Knowing your strengths helps you become clear about the characteristics that are needed to balance you in order to produce the best results at work and at home. For example, technology is a necessity for my business and day-to-day living, but it is not one of my strengths. I rely on others with IT skills and a passion to help people like me in order to use technology effectively. Knowing your strengths helps you to identify your gaps and the complementary partnerships that are necessary for your success.

 

  • Manage your strengths for better results – It is one thing to be able to name our strengths and quite another thing to know how to use them consciously to bring about desirable results. Self-management is about learning how to modulate your strengths so that they are serving you effectively. Like turning the heat up or down on the stove, we can dial our strengths up or back when necessary to get the results we need. Without strengths awareness we may neglect to establish appropriate boundaries leading us into challenging situations where we override others with too much of a good thing. For example, someone with the strength of Responsibility will quite naturally take on tasks to help move a project towards completion. Without healthy boundaries this strength can lead us into several danger zones. The responsible person may, in time, feel overly burdened leading to burn-out and/or feelings of martyrdom. Additionally, co-dependency can develop as s/he does tasks that someone else needs to be doing for themselves. Each and every strength has a positive and negative side; a way in which it serves us and a way in which it does not serve us. It’s important to know what our strengths look like when they go outside of healthy boundaries and how to restore balance when that happens. As we become more aware of our strengths the ability to effectively manage them significantly increases.

With these five reasons in mind, I encourage you to know your strengths better.

To quote one of my favorite books, ‘You are fearfully and wonderfully made’ ….in other words, you are Awesome! Embrace who you are more fully so that you can become all that you want to be. I wish you well on the journey to being your best!

 

Carol deLaski, PCC, is an author, speaker, and coach who specializes in strengths development for businesses and individuals. You may email Carol with your comments or questions about strengths development or attend an upcoming workshop to learn more about her Strengths approach to being your best self. See workshop details for Be Strong, Confident Communication, and Be Brave at www.caroldelaski.com.

Email: Carol@caroldelaski.com