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Written by: Virginia Macali
Date: October 12, 2016

Flickr: Colleen McMahon

Flickr: Colleen McMahon

In a recent conversation, a newly-retired friend said, “I knew what I was good at when I was working, but now, I don’t know what I’m good at.  I don’t know what my strengths are.”

In the workplace, we get rewarded for using our skills, talents, and abilities, especially if we use them for the benefit of others, the organization, or its mission.  The rewards can come in the form of compliments, appreciation, awards, promotions, positive performance reviews or even more work.

Outside of work, is there a steady stream of recognition to mirror your strengths?

Here are a few ways to identify or remember your strengths.  Once you identify them, you may notice that you are using them on a regular basis already.  Or, you may discover new ways you’d like to put your strengths to work for the benefit of your family, community, or something that’s meaningful to you.

Here are some ways to see your strengths more clearly:

1.        Ask. 

Ask 5 people from different arenas of your life what three strengths they see in you.  Ask them for examples.  Review the list and look for similar strengths that show up.  Did anything surprise you?    

2.       Read a book. 

The book, Strengthsfinder 2.0 uses data from Gallup to identify key strengths.  There’s a code in the book for an online assessment.  These strengths are not like those typically found in a leadership assessment at work.  A few of my favorite strengths in the book are:

  • Activator—the strength of taking effective action—now!
  • Includer—the strength of widening the circle and helping people feel part of the group.
  • Woo (Winning Others Over)—the strength of meeting new people and getting them to like you.

3.       Take a quiz. 

The VIA Institute on Character can help you discover your signature strengths at this link. 

4.       Watch a video. 

Here’s 5-minute You Tube that gives an overview of strengths and virtues.

If you have done any of these discovery steps, what have you learned?  How will you use your strengths at this time of your life?  How might you support others who would like to develop some of these strengths?