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How to play to your strengths

Many of us focus on our weaknesses – the things we feel we’ve ‘failed’ at and things we don’t do so well. Whilst it’s good to be aware of areas in which we are weaker, being aware of our strengths and working with them can be a great form of healing.

A study by Govindji and Linley (2007) shows that people who use their strengths are likely to be happier, more confident, have higher levels of self-esteem, and have higher levels of energy and vitality. So, how do we focus on our strengths? The following exercise may help.

Identifying Your Strengths

Take some time to think about your strengths. You may want to ask friends, family or colleagues what they think your strengths are. Or if you’re struggling, try an online strengths finder such Richard Step's.

Write down your top five strengths.

Next, look at each one and write down three times when you’ve used that strength and how it helped you or others. Then, look through your strengths again and think about how you might use each strength more often.

For example, one of your strengths may be ‘empathy’. You may have used this strength when;

1) looking after a sick neighbour

2) helping a friend through a relationship break-up

3) encouraging a junior colleague to express his opinion in a meeting at work

So how might you use this strength more often? You may choose to:

1) give an old friend a call who you know is having problems at work

2) do some voluntary work with animals or children

3) enrol on a counselling skills course.

Being aware of your strengths and regularly using them is proven to be an incredibly helpful development tool.

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