What is a Strength?

strengthsfinder Oct 05, 2017

One of the things that I think throws people through a loop is that it's called StrengthsFinder and yet, as I outlined in the last issue, the results of your StrengthsFinder assessment are not strengths, but your themes of talent. Let’s talk about what a strength is and why StrengthsFinder does not tell you your strengths.

Dr. Clifton's research led him to the conclusion that a strength is an activity in which you exhibit consistent near perfect performance, and that definition is important. It really looks at three things. 1. an activity. What do we mean by activity? There's an infinite number of possible activities. Throughout your day, so far today, you’ve engaged in quite a few activities such as making breakfast, exercising, responding to emails, listening to a friend, or writing a report. In some of those activities you performed remarkably well. Maybe your performance was perfect, or near perfect. And maybe in that activity you consistently, every time you engage in it, perform it near perfectly. But for most activities we can't say that is true. Maybe once in a while perform near perfect, but we can't perform the activity consistently. Or we can engage in an activity at an average level, or a poor level, on a consistent basis.

There are two scales. There's consistency: how regularly can you perform the activity? And then there's your performance level in the activity, which could be perfect, or it could be below that. But if your performance in the chosen activity isn’t both near perfect and consistent, then it's not a strength yet. I'll come back to this in a future issue and talk about why we don't need to have a strength in every activity. But the important thing here is that there are some activities that every time you do them you do them remarkably well on a consistent basis. And that's the definition of a strength: your consistent perfect, or near perfect, performance in an activity. The reason understanding and investing in your talents in order to turn them into strengths valuable is that you can build a career around them. You are at your best when you're engaging your strengths. Your experience is easy, feels effortless, enjoyable and energizing.

You can look at things that you do, tasks, activities that you have to perform, that you just don't enjoy. That's a sign that something is not a strength-based activity. What Dr. Clifton believed is that everybody has something that they do well, that they do better than the next 10,000 people, so there's some things you do so well, that a random group of 10,000 people could not do it as well as you do it. If you can identify those things, then you could build your life around that.

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