Get Your Mojo Working
Each of us has a unique, highly personalized set of core strengths. These are based on our strongest natural talents that have been refined over the years with additional knowledge and skills. They’re our flagship abilities—our prime resources for achieving peak performance—so they’re spoken of as “signature strengths.”
IDENTIFYING SIGNATURE STRENGTHS
How can you know when you’re engaging a signature strength?
Well, to begin with, you’ll note that it comes easy for you. You’ll sense that silky, fluid feel of natural ability—innate talent—which is basically a gift from the gods. In fact, it probably comes so easy that you may take it for granted, perhaps even assuming that everybody else is made the same as you. We often overlook just how precious and unique our signature strengths are because we live with them every day.
Another defining feature is the ability to learn fast. If you try an activity and pick it up rapidly, you could be onto a signature strength. Play with it. See if you get hooked.
That brings us to a couple of other clues. Do you have a yearning or desire to perform an activity? Does it consistently bring deep satisfaction? If it’s a signature strength, you have a persistent appetite for it. You can picture yourself doing it repeatedly and successfully. Finally, you find it absorbing, enjoyable, and uplifting.
BUILD YOUR LIFE AROUND SIGNATURE STRENGTHS
We flourish most when we apply our signature strengths in all areas of life. So try to shape your work such that every day it draws on your best potential. Also tap into this rich pocket of talent during your personal time.
Even your personal development efforts should be concentrated here in order to muscle up these dominant talents. Instead of drifting outside of this strike zone in an effort to shore up shortcomings, keep polishing your strengths that already shine the very most. The idea is to develop them into mega-strengths.
You’ll get a lot more mileage out of identifying and exploiting strengths than you can from trying to overcome weaknesses. In Now Discover Your Strengths, authors Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton explain, “We must remember that casting a critical eye on our weaknesses and working hard to manage them, while sometimes necessary, will only help us prevent failure. It will not help us reach excellence…you will reach excellence only by understanding and cultivating your strengths.”
Struggling to improve ourselves in low-talent areas resembles damage control more than development. It’s a draining, deadening exercise. It burns up a lot of energy. So unless you’re dealing with a weakness that directly interferes with your signature strengths, you probably should just manage around it. In fact, most of your soft spots basically ought to be ignored. Focus your improvement efforts where you’re already most proficient. That gives you the best chance to become an ace and also cranks up your level of optimism.
WHERE POTENTIAL AND PASSION INTERSECT
Exercising signature strengths is like watering the roots of optimism. You start feeling better about yourself. You find fulfillment in what you’re doing. You develop a more positive outlook toward life.
These beneficial side effects are a powerful antidote to adversity. They also help you exploit opportunity and navigate through uncertainty. Playing to your signature strengths can even turn a run-of-the-mill day into an energizing, soul-satisfying experience.
Want to live the good life? Engage your signature strengths as often as possible.
“We must remember that casting a critical eye on our weaknesses and working hard to manage them, while sometimes necessary, will only help us prevent failure. It will not help us reach excellence . . . you will reach excellence only by understanding and cultivating your strengths.”—Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton