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Find Your Strengths

You need to find your strengths if you want to successfully design a business around who you are.

If you want the perfect fit that is

If you don’t find those strengths and work with them instead of fighting  against them, your work life will be a big struggle.

And who the heck wants that? Life is hard enough, right?

In modern life, positive psychology is all the rage and I don’t mind it at all in the right circumstances however, the quote

"You can be anything you want to be if you just try hard enough"

Really isn’t helping people at all, because it makes people think hard work is all they need.

Unfortunately, no amount of effort makes you better at something you are not born to do or be despite any amount of passion for it.

Well, I learned something interesting from something on my bookshelf recently, and I found it a complete revelation.

What do you think about this then?

Weaknesses are strengths in the wrong environment

What a revelation.

Now, doesn’t that immediately make you feel better?

At last, not some advice to try harder at what you don’t like doing much and will always fail to master.

I learned this from the lovely Marianne Cantwell, she has written a great book call Be A Free Range Human  and she  talks about how to get off the treadmill and become the person you really want to be with a career to match.

She believes we go through life masking our strengths and trying to improve our weaknesses, to no avail, so why not just change the environment.

I love that way of looking at the world.

If you struggle to find your strengths, perhaps if you look at your perceived weakness instead, and flip your world view, you might find this approach more helpful.

Marianne explains it better.

She uses herself as an example when she was originally in corporate job land.

“I changed career back in the job world.

I thought I had a huge weakness of constantly wanting to change how things were done.

I came up with new ideas all the time for how we could improve the status quo.

My boss wasn’t interested; he wanted me to focus on the job at hand, which had nothing to do with creating change.

My constant need to make things better and better – and never settling for average – was a weakness when I was supposed to keep things ticking over quietly.

Then, I changed career into consultancy.

Suddenly, my job was to see how things could be done differently, push the status quo, to come up with big ideas.

That old weakness, which I had spent years trying to keep down, became a strength businesses were paying a lot of money for”.

Doesn't that make so much sense?

I think that is a brilliant explanation how to find your strengths by looking at your perceived weakness instead

Your own personal list of strengths and weaknesses can be viewed from a very different perspective and in a much more positive light.

I feel that is so much easier on the soul than conventional wisdom.

Stop beating yourself up and find the right environment instead.

Someone else who agrees...

Sir Ken Robinson On Find Your Strengths

Or as he calls it, Finding Your Element, another great read.

If you are interested in another proponent of this method I would suggest you consider the work of Sir Ken Robinson, he believes the schools system in many countries would work so much better for children if only they could follow the Find Your Strengths model instead of being pigeon holed into academic or not academic.

This process of course, has an enormous knock on effect into adult life and the reason many of us stay stuck our whole life because we can't seem to access our talents easily or see how they could really fit into the world of our work.

If you have children, he is a must see in my opinion at least to explore his point of view as an option. 


What Are Strengths Anyway?

I am glad you asked.

Let me explain this because a lot people mistake their skills for their strengths and keep plugging away at becoming better at them.

It is a fine idea, but it is exhausting

Wouldn’t you prefer your life to be a bit more effortless?

So here is the explanation

A skill is something you can do and can be learned

A strength is something you are and it is part of your very being

Like empathy or you like learning or you have discipline.

It is something you be, do and are on a daily basis throughout your life and they are not something you can learn or take a class in.

They are generally the same from being a young person to being an older person and have nothing to do with being an introvert or an extrovert.

They are the theme of who you are & how you approach the world

It is really important to understand this distinction because you will then understand, when I say build a business around your strengths, I am not saying build it around your skills alone

You can be great at your skills but I you don’t like using them or don’t incorporate skills along with your strengths you will find your business will be an uphill task.

In order to make things more clear let me give you, as defined by the Strengths Finder - Find Your Strengths Test, a grid to show all 34 of them.

ACHIEVER

ACTIVATOR

ADAPTABILITY

ANALYTICAL

ARRANGER

BELIEF

COMMAND

COMMUNICATION

COMPETITION

CONNECTEDNESS

CONSISTENCY

CONTEXT

 DELIBERATIVE

 DEVELOPER

 DISCIPLINE

 EMPATHY

FOCUS

FUTURISTIC

HARMONY

IDEATION

INCLUDER

INDVIDUALIZATION

INPUT

INTELLECTION

LEARNER

MAXIMIZER

POSITIVITY

RELATOR

RESPONSIBILITY

RESTORATIVE

SELF ASSURANCE

 SIGNIFICANCE

STRATEGIC

WOO


Want To Learn More?

If you are really serious and want to find your strengths and learn more about the 34 headings I suggest the following two options to learn more.

Take the

Gallup Strengths Test to find your strengths in the way we have been discussing

Top Tip: I often buy books secondhand on amazon but on this occasion new is best because you need the key to the test in the back of the book.

A second hand copy of the book has probably got a used code and therefore no good to you.

Also be advised, there are several different book covers I have noticed but the book was updated in 2007 and I haven't seen one any later than that.

It should be the 2.0 version.

And/or read

Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham, he has been talking about this subject with organisations in the workplace for years.

He elaborates on the difference between skills and strengths and writes more about how to use each strength on a practical level.

He has also written a more recent book called Stand Out 2.0 Assessing Your Strengths, all about finding your edge and winning at work.

Work of course, at all times in the context of what we are talking about is your business not a corporate job.

Everything applies just the same.

Are you itching to find your strengths now?

I know I was and I went into the test thinking I was x, y and z and came out totally differently which is why I think the test is a really important tool so you can understand yourself better.

And if you understand yourself better you will make better choices about your business idea and how you will do business ultimately.


Strengths In Action

Let me share my own results with you for context.

If I give you my top 5 strengths it might help you understand a bit more about how they fit into my working life.

Bearing in mind I am in the world of small business ideas and helping people design one around who they are, I think my strengths are perfect for what I do.

I am not writing the whole descriptions here,  just very briefly picking out phrases that illustrate the point about how I am working with my strengths and not against them.

Your own test will have more in depth information about your top 5 strengths.

Empathy

You can sense the emotions of those around you. You can feel what they are feeling as though those feelings are your own. Your instinctive ability to understand is powerful. You hear the unvoiced questions; you help give a voice to their emotional life.

Perfect for me to understand what people are feeling when they are struggling with jobs they hate especially I am the world’s number one 9 to 5 hater.

Learner

A catalyst for change, paid to go into new situations, you love to learn.

I need to learn to keep up with the world of work and business, and research helps me help others.

Intellection

You like to think, encourage people around you, follow a trail and see where it leads, get involved at the front of projects. Challenge people’s thinking in a non-threatening way.

Such an important strength for me to have in this line of work

Input

Very inquisitive, collect knowledge as you go, an authority in your field, leverage knowledge and turn into action, share information  with others, answer questions

I can’t help others if I don’t collect knowledge as I go or share information or answer questions

Connectedness

Sensitive, you can give others comfort that there is purpose in their life, see the broad picture, help people see the connections among their talents, their actions, their missions and their successes. You become adept at helping other people see connection and purpose in everyday occurrences. Consider a role which you listen and counsel. You are considerate, caring and adapting.

I think this describes itself.


Finally...

Now what are your greatest strengths?

Do you know yet, have you worked them out?

If not, are you ready to go and find your strengths and put them into full use in the world?

They are specific to you; they allow you to put your spin on your business, no two people are the same even if they have the same business ideas.

 What do you make of this?

This made me really sit and think for quite a while after I heard it, I thought it quite profound:

“Think about your parents, and when they got together, you were the one that made the cut. You were the winning sperm, so it is your duty to come into this world and do something positive with your life because you were the lucky one”

I think they have a point, we are lucky and we shouldn’t waste our talents.

Go find your strengths and be a brilliant person in this world because there are a group of people in this world who need to hear from you and only you by way of your specific business done in your specific way.

Remember, you made the cut for a reason...and they are waiting to learn from you.

And finally a quote from Benjamin Franklin who truly understood the importance of the need to find your strengths...

"Hide not your talents, they for use were made.

What's a sundial in the shade"