In order to develop a career that really suits you, it’s important to have a basic knowledge of your key strengths. Unlike skills or knowledge you can acquire through education, your strengths are more basic talents. For the most part you were born with them. You can certainly continue to develop new talents, but in the area of your strengths you have an almost unfair advantage.
Your strengths are things that come naturally and easily to you. Your brain is just wired to be good at them. You couldn’t really teach someone to be as good as you are unless they’re predisposed to have a strength in that area.
Assess your strengths
There are many tests you can take to help assess your personal strengths. The one I recommend most is the Strengths Finder Test, which can be accessed online with a key from the books Now, Discover Your Strengths or Strengths Finder 2.0. The test helps you identify your top 5 strengths with an emphasis on career-related abilities.
I took this test more than a year ago. The results for my top 5 strengths were, in order:
- Strategic – good at strategic thinking and planning.
- Input – can efficiently process and integrate large amounts of information.
- Learner – good at acquiring new knowledge and skills.
- Focus – able to concentrate well and tune out distractions.
- Significance – drawn to work on important things and avoid succumbing to trivialities.
I wasn’t surprised by these results. My strengths are predominantly mental as opposed to social or emotional.
Understand your strengths
Once you assess your strengths, it’s important to understand what they mean on a practical level. What kinds of tasks are well-suited to you? What kinds of tasks are a struggle for you?
Because of my strengths, I’m very good at understanding and working with abstract concepts. Contradictory or ambiguous information doesn’t faze me. I see patterns where others see only complexity. I’m also very good at making intelligent, strategically sound decisions. This way of thinking comes naturally to me. I don’t really know how I do it.
Apply your strengths
You’ll be happiest working in a career that allows you to take advantage of your strengths on a daily basis. This will enable you to make a significant contribution to your field.
Based on my strengths, an ideal career for me would be one that leverages my strategic thinking ability and has me working on complex and meaningful challenges, especially in a field that people find complicated or confusing. This suggests I could perform well as an entrepreneur, business consultant, writer, psychologist, theoretical physicist, mathematician, software designer, criminal profiler, and many other possibilities.
Similarly, my core strengths also allow me to rule out careers that wouldn’t fit me too well, such as a professional athlete, salesperson, musician, or nightclub manager.
I suggest you take at least one assessment test to gain clarity about your in-born strengths. Working from your strengths will help you (1) be far more productive, (2) get better results, (3) contribute more value, (4) attract higher compensation, (5) enjoy your work, and (6) experience greater fulfillment.
If you’d like to share other strength assessment tests you’ve found helpful, please share them in the forums.