If you are asked about your strength, often keywords are mentioned such as communicative, empathic, authentic etc.
Is this really correct and well reflected? Hardly. When this would be the case, the world would be a lot easier to deal with and we would not encounter so many people with problems precisely in those areas.
It seems useful to check whether these terms are authentically chosen.
How to find personal strength
Discriminate real strengths from fake strengths
Some strengths evolve automatically, caused by the enthusiasm that people feel. Someone who likes talking will automatically use this quality in a conversation. Still, it is important first to recognize something as a quality and to differentiate. Is this talking talent only useful in small talk or even more in complex dialogues. This examination is necessary to make sure that the real talents or strengths can be developed
Interplay of motivation and strength
I can find my strength by writing down in a few lines who I am in essence, when I feel real passion, or when I even forget the time while doing something. Most of the time, strengths and motivation are inseparable.
When my ability to communicate really is a strength, it makes sense to see whether I am able to listen openly and impartially. When I really want to understand the motives of others, my strength is directly linked to empathy. When these two qualities are presented naturally, I can call myself authentic too.
Strengths are very individualistic and easy to trace because you will generally like what you are good at. When you identify your strengths you can see how it can be combined with other strengths and further developed to mastery, for example with a Life Coach.
Strength tests on the Internet
There are many useful strength tests like Mayer’s Briggs, Big 5 and Reiss Profile. However Gallup and Via Institute on Character are mainly focused on strengths and less on the personality as a whole.
Gallup is more suitable for the professional, Via rather for private use. Both are complementary.
Gallup Strength finder
Positive: 1) catchy formulations 2) recognition value 3) overview
Talents x use = Strength
- Talents (a natural way of thinking, feeling or behavior) x use (the time for practicing and developing skills) = strength (the ability to execute a perfect performance)
- The descriptions feel familiar, are very detailed and capture the main idea.
- The division into categories of talent is clear when you read the typical strenghtfinder language. Thus “relator” and “connectedness” are found under the category “relationship building” or “input” and “imagination” under the category “strategic thinking”.
Negative: 1) costs 2) not generally accepted by science 3) arbitrary use of terms
- The test is not for free and in general more suitable for business coaching: For € 10 you get only five signature talents. The low strengths (weaknesses) are not included
- Many people like the test, not realizing that the result is partly delusive. This is due to the confirmation bias: you always get the answers you like to hear.
- Some talents are too closely related, such as intellect, curiosity and analytical thinking. Other talents are taken too narrow: creativity is seen only with regard to finding ideas. This blind spot might be caused by business focus where creativity is generally seen skeptically.
Via Institute on Character (Seligman)
Positive: 1) free 2) scientifically accepted 3) fulfilling.
1) Even low strengths ( basic weaknesses) are shown since positive psychology is not deficit orientated.
2) Completely accepted by science. The study of character (and moral) goes all the way back to Plato and Aristotle.
3) Character strengths are fulfilling and can be measured well, also in combination with values and emotions.
Negative: low recognition value.
1) Terms like courage, curiosity and wisdom do not seem very differentiated or appealing.
To focus on different aspects of strengths can have a positive effect.
Still, long-term success is within reach only when the whole spectrum of motivation is taken into account.
It is important to keep in mind the so-called big picture.
Strengths are just a single component in addition to identity and personality, self-esteem etc. To gain an overview, psychologists and life coaches are a useful addition.
Exercise at home → Best selves
Find 10 people (friends, family, or colleagues) to designate at least 5 of your talents/strengths. In doing so, the obvious is to be avoided, it should be an unique description. Try to avoid Klischees. Original attributions or even short stories are desired.
Example by a colleague:, “I remember that you responded very BRAVELY in the meeting when somebody used false arguments on purpose. You remained COOl and COMPOSED. I ADMIRE you for that. ”
Exercises with Life Coach → Strength-focused conversations
strength as part of personality
In order for your talents to gain a higher recognition value, it is important for the Life Coach to capture the connection between personality, emotions, values and goals by means of concrete descriptions from the client’s life. Only in this broad view, talents can become strengths.
Some people might not recognize certain talents. For example the ability to reflect.
This might be invisible since for many people it is part of who they are, their identity. A coach can identify blind spots and is able to form a talent into mastery together with the client.