Before we can get down to the nitty-gritty of planning the perfect role that will utilize our strengths every day, we need to take a step back and assess what are our strengths and are we using them today. How do you know if you are using your strengths? First, let’s define “strengths” and look at a few key indicators.

Strengths Defined

There are plenty of working definitions of strengths. For our purposes, I would offer the following formula:

Strengths = Talent + Time

Much of the work in this area (see: Positive Organizational Scholarship) suggests that our strengths are the product of our raw talents and abilities plus the repeated usage of them over time. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell suggests a very precise formula – 10,000 hours turns a talent into a “world class” strength. While many of us haven’t had an opportunity to invest 10,000 hours into a particular talent, I would submit to you that some of the hallmarks of strengths, in even the rawest of states, are the following (not a mutually exclusive or collectively exhaustive list… but a good one!):

  • Speed
  • Quality
  • Requires minimal effort
  • The ability to perform the task at all (not everyone can throw a baseball 99mph)

To that end, I’ve prepared a quiz for you (nothing like a good Monday morning quiz, huh?).

Are You Using Your Strengths? – Quiz:

While answering this quiz, think of a typical day / week at work…

  1. Does the majority of your work come easily to you?
  2. Are you faster than most of your peers in similar jobs?
  3. Do you typically produce results higher / better than most of your peers?
  4. Do people regularly compliment you on your work as if what you are doing is so much better than others in that role (present or past)?
  5. Are you often asked with sincerity “how did you do that?” Can you simply do things that others can not?
  6. Are there parts of your job that are consistent with what you were good at growing up? Ex: math, teamwork, etc…
  7. Are you using multiple strengths in your job?

So, how did you do? If you answered “yest” to at least 5 of the 7, you are onto something. You may not be in the perfect role, but you are darn close. If you answered “yes” to 2 or less, you’ve stumbled into the wrong job. Time to do some self reflection and begin to plan a move… and fast! Stay tuned. The next post offers some of the “greatest hits” on how to discover and identify your strengths.