Discovering and using your strengths

May 23, 2008

Welcome to my blog!

For the next few weeks I will be blogging about strengths: What are they? How do we discover them? How do we use them?

Strengths are a big focus in positive psychology; we focus on building what is right with people rather than just trying to fix people’s weaknesses.

Those of you familiar with psychology may know of a book called the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual IV- affectionately known as the DSM-IV. This manual is used to diagnose or at the very least label all the things that can possibly be wrong with people.

Drs. Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman pointed out that psychologists now understand a great deal about what is wrong with people and very little to nothing about categorizing what is write with people. They took on what I consider the largest project in positive psychology’s history. They scientifically studied and identified character strengths and virtues that have been identified throughout history and multiple cultures. The published a voluptuous book called Character Strengths and Virtues and a handy-dandy (albeit lengthy) questionnaire for figuring your strengths out.

Before I spill the beans about where you can take the questionnaire to discover your strengths (for FREE!). Think about your strengths?

What are you naturally good at?

Now strengths are different from talents. You can be a talented singer or basketball player. Hitting high notes and dribbling balls are talents.

Being a leader, curious about the world, empathetic and supportive, those aren’t talents they are strengths.

A good way to figure out your strengths is to think about what you did in the past few days that made happy? Then begin to dig deeper and look for the strengths that you displayed there.

For example, I had a great coaching session with a client today that made me feel great. One of the reasons it felt so great was because I was using my strengths

Make a list of 5 things that you consider to be your strengths.

Then log onto, sign up real quick, and take the VIA Character Strengths questionnaire. Taking the complete version might take you 30 or so minutes. If you’d like, take the abridged version- The Brief Strengths Test, which is 24 questions and should take less then 5 minutes. There is also a children’s version.

Find out what some of your strengths are. Do these strengths match the list you created?

To delve deeper into the world of strengths check out this web site

In the next few blog posts I’ll look at each of Peterson and Seligman’s 24 Strengths. Then we’ll explore Gallup’s Strength Finder which is all about the use of strengths in careers and business.

Looking forward to hearing from you!