A few months ago, I had a speaking engagement. For whatever reason, I felt anxious and unqualified, so I clung to my manuscript. The result was a tense, robotic delivery. I didn’t even want to be there, and I was the one speaking!
Contrast that with another talk a few weeks ago. I felt free and comfortable, and brought only a business card with notes. The result was an inspiring, energizing delivery that motivated the audience (and me).
How were they different? The second time I engaged my strengths, the first time I did not. Just because you have strengths doesn’t mean you’ll use them.
Here are five ways to make the most of your strengths:
First, name them. You can’t be intentional with your strengths if you don’t identify them first. Give your strengths a name. There are various methods for identifying your strengths. For example, you can take an assessment like StrengthsFinder (it changed my life), pay attention to what you do well, notice what you lose track of time while doing, etc. Management expert Peter Drucker says everyone ought to know what their strengths are.
Once you identify your strengths, you can start to own them. You own your strengths when you reflect on how you’ve used them for a productive outcome. For example, when you went around the neighborhood as a kid and sold boxes of popcorn, which strengths helped you do that? Which strengths help you today? If you don’t own your strengths, you won’t want to use them, which is like throwing gold into the street to be trampled upon.
After you’ve identified your strengths and you begin owning them, you can aim them toward your intended outcomes. I think of your strengths as your means of making positive contributions in the world. Your strengths are your inborn, hard-wired resources for good works. What is the easiest, most natural way to achieve your ends? Through your strengths.
Just because something is a strength doesn’t mean it’s fully mature. Your strengths can grow. Your strengths should grow. You’ll find all sorts of ways to grow your strengths if you commit to doing so. You can actually use your strengths to grow your strengths. For example, a strength in learning new information can give you an appetite to learn about strengths. A strength in seeing what’s unique in others can help you notice strengths in others.
Engaging others around you can help you make the most of your strengths. Get curious with the people of your life about your strengths and theirs. Make it part of your conversation with your loved ones, coworkers, and leaders. The more you understand yourself, the better version of yourself you can be. The better version of yourself you can be, the more that person can show up in relationships.
Your strengths are your means of making posititive contributions in the world. Your strengths are your inborn, hard-wired resources for good works. If you’re not making the most of your strengths, everyone's missing out. Start maximizing your strengths.