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Top 5 Reasons to Develop Your Strengths

Updated: Jul 20, 2021

If only I knew then what I know now, I wonder how much easier my path would have been.

For many years I worked on my weaknesses in an attempt to lift my overall capability. My peers would see me as a tenacious, always-on, high achiever. My leaders would see me as a perfectionist, too caught up in the detail and unable to take others along for the journey. I would tirelessly scrutinise my work, my delivery, my ability (or lack of). Sounds exhausting huh?

Well, this is what can happen to an individual like me when trying to be everything for everyone.

In 2017 I was introduced to Gallup Strengths Coaching. The theory is that every human is made up of 34 innate talents referred to as 'strengths'. The strengths that give you joy and help you thrive, bubble to the top of the list. When harnessed and developed these strengths can help you to magnify your uniqueness, bring the best of you to everything you do, increase your awareness, understanding and appreciation of what others bring, increase happiness to your daily life, and they can help you to identify how you can pay it forward to others.


Lesson #1: You don’t have to be like everyone else to bring value.

My top 5 strengths are:

1. Achiever

2. Learner

3. Competition

4. Ideation

5. Futuristic

It might not be overtly recognisable here, but I do not have any ‘relationship’ based strengths in my top 5. All of my peers have at least one if not multiple. My first thought was - well that explains why I feel so different. It explains why the things that I find easy everyone finds incredibly hard, and the things that others get lots of joy from doing I find forced and tiring.

My imposter syndrome kicked in. But then I spent time with my strengths coach, which made me see my strengths in a new light.

The way I built relationships wasn’t through deep intense relationships built off empathy. (Truth be told, empathy is #34 for me - but that is another story). I build relationships through helping others see their potential, teaching them how to look forward, generate new ideas, and find new ways to succeed.

Your strengths do not define the job you are destined to fulfil. They help you to magnify your own unique style and apply it to any task. Understand your strengths, find ways to use them every day, articulate them to others and be proud of them. This is your ‘special sauce’.


Lesson #2: You get the best of me when I get to use my strengths every day

Be it in life or in work. If I am able to dream big (futuristic), come up with a thousand crazy ideas to explore (ideation), learn something new (learner), apply those learnings along with my existing knowledge and then measure the impact (competition), and get some serious stuff done (achiever) - you will get the best of me.

I often ask people to fill up their buckets. A life bucket and a work bucket. This little exercise is an interesting way to find out why you may be feeling stressed, stuck or unfulfilled.

Here are my buckets as they stand today:

Life: Why are achiever and competition low?

As a Mum who works full time, is studying a Graduate Certificate in Educational Neuroscience and runs two side hustles, I feel like a lot of my achievements right now are just getting through the busy days and aren’t overly rewarding. The way I usually fill up these two buckets is through triathlons. We are in the offseason at the moment, but in 2 weeks we will be back into training - so perhaps check in with me in 2 weeks to see how full those buckets are.

Work: Why is competition lower than everything else?

This is a really interesting one. I am in a position where I get to leverage all of my strengths in a ‘for purpose’ role on a global scale. I have clear KPIs that are measured weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually. Yet because I feel the intensity of this role to be much lower than others that I have held (aka 20 years of sales targets), I don’t feel I am truly challenging myself. I am thrilled with the impact I am making, but I have this desire to amp it up.

This ‘fill up your buckets’ process helps to narrow in on what’s missing, prioritise it and make sure you bring the best of you to your work and your life.


Lesson #3: A lot of people don't care about the same things you care about

Guess what? There are 34 innate talents. People are usually at their best when they really concentrate on developing their top 5. That means, there are a whole lot of people that are concentrating on different strengths to you. That also means that what you care about, what you place importance on, isn’t necessarily the same thing for anyone else.

I have achiever as #1. One of my peers has "Activator" as #1. We really struggled to work together. Achievers want to get stuff done. Activators get excited about starting stuff - but don’t necessarily care for the pesky details of finalising anything.

What happens in that scenario? If we work on a project together I feel like the Activator starts a million different things, get’s trigger happy engaging lots of people (relevant or not) and then leaves all the mess for me to finish off, with the Activator going AWOL mid-project, never to be seen or held responsible for the output.

What’s really happening? The Activator gets bored with the mundane detail and moves on to the next shiny project they can start.

So what should you do about it? Have clear roles. Activators are great at getting things started. Tell them that will be their role, but they have to wait until the project plan is established. In other words - we love your enthusiasm but don’t start just yet. Once their role is finished, move them to the next project.

Just because someone isn’t like you, doesn’t mean they can’t bring considerable value. In fact, teams that understand each other’s strengths are extremely powerful (but more on that another time).


Lesson #4: Focusing on your strengths actually makes you happier!

How much happier? 3 times happier? That’s right, research shows that people who can use their strengths every day are 3x as likely to report having an excellent quality of life.

There’s a three-step process:

1. Name it

2. Claim it

3. Aim it

Name it is all about understanding what your strengths mean and what your unique combination of strengths means specifically to you.

Claim it is about being honest with yourself. Strengths don’t show up perfectly developed and some - when in an immature state - can actually be quite off-putting to others. For example, competition can show up as needing to win at everything and at all costs. However, harnessing the good side of this strength can help you to stimulate growth, maintain focus, strive for excellence and work as a team.

Aim it is about pointing your strengths towards something. The first stage is to use your strengths to bring out the best in you. The second stage is about how you channel your strengths towards others to benefit your peers, your community or society at large.


Lesson #5: There is no greater joy than using your strengths to help others succeed

Wouldn’t you love to be so fulfilled in life, so sure of who you are (the good bits and the flaws), that you were able to have the clarity of thought to extend your strengths to help others? It’s okay to be different, it’s the difference that you bring that enables great things to occur. Stop trying to do what others have done, and start doing you.

These are our Top 5 reasons to develop your strengths. If you are a Gallup Strengths Coach or if you have had success by harnessing your strengths, please let us know in the comments below and subscribe to stay up to date.

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Feb 09

Narelle, thanks for sharing some of your 'secrets' to happiness with us. Cheers.

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