live in your strengths
WHAT ARE OUR STRENGTHS?
A “Strength” as defined by Donald Clifton, founder of StrengthsFinder, is “A consistent, near perfect performance in an activity.” You must be able to consistently and predictably perform at something for it to be considered your strength. Your strengths should also energize you and give you great satisfaction from doing an activity. Although you may have an amazing ability to do something, according to Clifton, it only considered a strength if you can picture yourself doing it repeatedly, happily, and successfully.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TALENT, A SKILL, AND A STRENGTH?
Our strengths work in conjunction with our natural talents. A “Talent,” is, “A naturally recurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied.” Our talents, or these strong patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; form because they have the strongest synaptic connections in our brains. It is impossible to build a true strength without these underlying talents. Your talents are innate, whereas skills can be acquired through learning and practice. While a skill would determine if you can do something, your talents reveal how well and how often you do something well.
Your talents and recurring patterns are created by connections in your brain. Your talents, your strongest synaptic connections are the most important raw material for building your strengths.
Our talents / strengths are hardwired within each of us from a very early age. The synapses in our brains form strong connections and patterns in certain areas of life and weak connections in other areas of life. These connections don’t change very much after your teens. After the age of sixteen your mental network is relatively fixed in regards to your strengths. Although with enough repetition and training it is possible to reconfigure your brain to a degree, it will not help you create these same, strong T1 lines in the brain. Beyond a certain age you are not going to be able to create a new design of such resilient synaptic connections.
How did these strong connections form? We have to make thousands of tiny decisions each day. Over the course of a year, that can be upwards of half a million decisions. Our brains naturally follow the path of least resistance. In each of these decisions, our strongest brain synaptic connections are making these decisions. Each time they are used, they continuously reinforce these synaptic connections and make them stronger.
HOW DOES KNOWING OUR STRENGTHS ENHANCE OUR LIVES?
Knowing your strengths gives you:
INNER JOY AND MEANING ~ You know that you are uniquely designed with a distinct combination of strengths. You realize that what is easy and natural to you may be difficult or non-existent for others. The world need you and you have a place on the earth to fulfill.
CLARITY ~ By knowing your strengths you get in touch with your purpose in life. You can start living in the flow and ease of doing things naturally verses fighting against the grain.
STRATEGY ~ One of the greatest secrets of success is to discover your strengths and to organize your life to use your strengths. The most successful people maximize their strengths and are not fixated on their weaknesses. While they do manage their weaknesses by hiring out, delegating, or using an exchange agreement, they do not do everything personally. By knowing your strengths, you can carve out a role in life where you can use your strengths every day.
HOW DO WE DISCOVER OUR STRENGTHS?
Our talents and strengths are so natural to us that they feel like common sense. We may not recognize them because they are so easy for us and part of our nature. We think everyone must inherently be great learners, naturally responsible, innately empathetic, or incredibly disciplined. Notice your spontaneous and immediate reactions to situations that you encounter. Strengths often sound like: “I can’t help it”; “I have to do it”; “It feels good”; “Doesn’t everybody do that?”
I highly recommend going online and doing the Strengths Finder Test. It is all about discovering and utilizing your top 5 strengths.
Thirty-Four Themes of StrengthsFinder: