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According to Marcus Buckingham, author of Go Put Your Strengths To Work, "Most people think your strengths are what you're good at, and your weaknesses are what you're bad at." He explains that this isn't a good way to measure your strengths and skills.
There may be a lot of things that you're good at, but hate doing. Just because you're good at something doesn't make it a strength. You also must have a passion for what you're doing—that's what qualifies it as a strength.
"A better definition of a strength," said Buckingham, "is an activity that makes you feel strong. And a weakness is an activity that makes you feel weak. Even if you're good at it, if it drains you, that's a weakness."
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He recommends writing down activities that drain you or energize you during a regular week. This will prohibit others from confirming or denying your strengths and weaknesses. Instead, you're determining what they are without letting other people's opinions influence you.
Once you have determined your strengths, you need to refine and sharpen your skills. "You grow the most, learn the most, develop the most in the areas where you already have some natural advantage," said Buckingham.
According to Buckingham, there are four clear signs of a strength:
1. Success—This is effectiveness in the activity you are doing.
2. Instincts—Find those things that you instinctively look forward to, and capitalize on them.
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3. Growth—You're growing when you can concentrate on an activity, and time just flies by.
4. Needs—Some activities might make you tired, but they fulfill you.
Now that you know your strengths, it's time to put them into action. From your list that you kept throughout the week, write down three strength statements. Buckingham said the statements should be "specific enough to conjure up passion within you, but general enough for you to apply every week." He says you can't build a career around your best unless you know your strengths. "It's one of the skills of life."
Do you know your true strengths? Are you at your best in your career or is it time to change paths? Tell us in the comments.