Your strengths – can you name them and do you use them

by | 30 Apr 2022 | Mental Health, Wellbeing

We learn to focus on our ‘areas of improvement’ or what we see as our weaknesses. Yet, this is missing out on what strengths can do for us. In this article we will explain: the benefits of using your strengths, how to spot your own strengths, and what it would look like if you were using your strengths at the optimum level.


Our strengths are not necessarily the things we are good at. Linley (2004) defines a strength as a ‘pre-existing capacity for a particular way of behaving, thinking or feeling that is authentic and energising to the user, and enables optimal functioning, development and performance’. If we break this down, it means our strengths are ready wired in our brain and when we are using one, we feel:

• Authentic and behaving as the ‘real you’
• Energised
• Engaged and in the zone

We all have our own unique blend of strengths. There is no hierarchy of strengths, none are better than others. Whatever strengths you possess the key is learning to use them at the optimum level.

How we benefit from using our strengths

Research has shown that people who use their strengths more are happier, more confident, have higher energy levels and better overall wellbeing, are more engaged and perform better at work, are more resilient and better able to manage stress. And those are only some of the identified benefits!

How to spot our strengths

Given that two out of three of us are unable to name our strengths, take a few minutes to answer the question below and see what you notice.

• What gives you a buzz when you are doing it?
• What activities would you do even if you didn’t have to?
• What are you doing when you feel the ‘real you’?
• What have you found easy to learn?
• What are you doing when you are so focused you lose track of time?
• When do you feel calm and productive?
• What do you remember doing as a child that you still do now?
• What are you doing when you notice your voice become more animated?
• What are you doing when you notice your language including words like ‘love doing’ or ‘it’s great’?

Consider your answers. What strengths are you using?

Using our strengths at an optimum level

For all strengths there is a continuum of use. If we under play or don’t recognise them, we miss out on the opportunity to benefit from them, and the energy and enjoyment of using them.

It is also possible to overplay a strength or use it in the wrong way if we don’t consider the context and need. Optimal use means we are using a strength to the right amount, in the right way, at the right time.

As an example, my top strength on profiles is a love of learning. If I am not using this strength, I may be uninterested in something or miss opportunities to develop. If I overuse it the result may be never feeling I know enough and not recognising my knowledge or come across as a know-it-all. At the optimal level a love of learning is about enjoying and implementing learning to positive outcomes and information seeking.

Another example might be honesty. If we don’t use it, we might be phoney, dishonest, or inauthentic. Overuse might appear self-righteous or rude. At an optimum level one is true to oneself and sincere.

Honesty as a value is a good example of using a strength appropriately and in context. There is a difference between constructive feedback sought after a presentation; and telling someone asking how they look before going to an event they are nervous about attending that you don’t like their outfit.

Putting our strengths to use

We can have realised strengths which are those we use frequently and energise us. We also have unrealised strengths which are those we have but are not yet using as much as we might.

We all also have weaknesses, which are different from an unrealised strength. However, if we focus on getting our strengths to the optimum level our weaknesses will become less relevant. To use a tennis analogy, if I have a strong serve and ground strokes but am not good at the net, if I work on producing a killer serve and brilliant return of serve, I won’t need to go to the net much. (I’m still working on this!)

If you want to use your strengths to access the many benefits that have been found try this exercise.

• Answer the questions above to identify your list of strengths
• Pick you top 5 and identify what would be happening if you were using them at the optimum level.
• Pick one of these and over the next week consciously draw on this strength to increase the impact of what you are doing and support you in reaching your goals.

Enjoy practicing and benefiting from the increased energy and performance you will experience from using your natural strengths.

In our Unleashing You programme we explore strengths in detail and take time to develop them, if you would like to learn more you can read about it here.

Contact us below for more details

To learn more please contact us on 01202 612 326 or through the options below. We’ll discuss details and how we can help you or your organisation.


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