I'm using "Now, Discover Your Strengths" by Buckingham and Clifton, for career coaching for clients with marvelous results. It was published this year and based on a survey done by The Gallup Organization of over 2,000,000 people who were excellent at what they do.
The usual premises in business are (1) you can learn to be competent in almost anything; and (2) your greatest room for growth is in your area of greatest weakness.
Buckingham and Clifton agree that a good person can learn almost anything, but their premises are (1) each person's talents are enduring, unique and INNATE; and (2) each person's greatest room for growth is in the area of his or her greatest strengths.
A strength is defined as "consistent, near perfect performance in an activity." When you're working in your strength area, you'll be energized, not drained, and will feel a deep pleasure that's soul-satisfying.
Here’s how to discover your strengths:
1. Innate talents show up early. What were you always doing as a kid? What did you dream of doing when you grew up? Ask your parents.
2. It comes naturally so it feels good. Ask yourself what you could envision doing for 12-14 hours in a row? What puts you in the zone?
3. A major clue is when you’re asked to do something new and you take to it like a duck to water. This is a signal that it’s tapped an innate talent.
4. Take the StrengthsFinder ™ Profile. I’ve worked with a lot of clients on this and have been impressed with it. One premise is that we don’t know what our innate talents are, and most people who take it are surprised.
5. Work with a coach. The profile is just the beginning to discovering your strengths.
Strengths aren’t what you think they are. It isn’t things like “integrity” or “writing,” nor is it “I have a degree in marketing.” One of the best things about the survey is that they came up with 34 names for strengths that filled a gap in our collective vocabulary. Some of them are: Activator, WOO (Winning Others Over), Relator, Empathy, Strategic, Deliberativeness and Harmony.
We can become very good at something that isn't an innate talent, but can never reach excellence at it, and it will never give us the excellent life we want and deserve. Now, discover your strengths!