Know your Strengths


Know your Strengths

Know your Strengths

Previously, we spoke about the importance of self-assessment as a starting point in the careers development cycle and took a deeper look at personality. Today we are going to discuss the strengths based approach.

The strengths based approach is rooted in the positive psychology movement, which its founder, Martin Seligman, defined as the scientific research of “positive experience, positive individual traits and the institutions that facilitate their development”. A strength-based approach has a large applicable value in education, business and career development. The approach advocates a change from a preoccupation with fixing our weaknesses to alternatively focusing on developing our strengths.

Instead of using our energy to deal with what is wrong, the traditional deficit model, the strengths-based approach encourages a focus on what is working well and can work even better. Our strengths are natural and authentic resources that represent what is good in each of us. When we are using our strengths we are doing things that we enjoy and thus with practice we learn to do them better and feel energised while doing so. We feel intrinsically motivated to act on our strengths and when we do, it elicits a positive psychological response or ‘buzz’ that adds to our confidence and competence.

By using our strengths, we learn, grow and become more fulfilled over time. Research has shown that some of the benefits of a strengths-based approach include:

  • Higher self-esteem
  • Enhanced performance
  • Engagement
  • Resilience
  • Goal-achievement
  • Happiness
  • Flourishing


A little bit more on strengths...

Alex Linley has great tips to get to know your strengths or spot them in others. Strengths spotting is fun and easy once you know what you are looking for.

Ten Tips for spotting strengths in yourself and others:

  1. Childhood memories: What do you remember doing as a child that you still do now – but most likely much better? Strengths often have deep roots from our earlier lives.
  2. Energy: What activities give you an energetic buzz when you are doing them? These activities are very likely calling on your strengths.
  3. Authenticity: When do you feel most like the “real you”? The chances are that you will be using your strengths in some way.
  4. Ease: See what activities come naturally to you, and at which you excel – sometimes, it seems, without even trying. These will likely be your strengths.
  5. Attention: See where you naturally pay attention. You’re more likely to focus on things that are playing to your strengths.
  6. Rapid Learning: What are the things that you have picked up quickly, learning them almost effortlessly? Rapid learning often indicates and underlying strength.
  7. Motivation: What motivates you? When you find activities that you do simply for the love of doing them, they are likely to be working from your strengths.
  8. Voice: Monitor your tone of voice. When you notice a shift in passion, energy and engagement, you’re probably talking about a strength.
  9. Words and phrases: Listen to the words you use. When you’re saying “I love to…” or “It’s just great when….,” the chances are that it’s a strength to which you are referring.
  10. “To do” lists: Notice the things that never make it on to your “to do” list. These things that always seem to get done often reveal an underlying strength that means we never need to be asked twice.


There are several free on-line tests you can take which will give you an understanding of your strengths: