1-Sentence-Summary: Now, Discover Your Strengths shows you how to find your top five strengths by outlining what strengths are, how you get them, why they’re important to reaching your full potential, and how to discover your own through analyzing the times when your behavior is the most natural or instinctive and why.
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By now, you’re probably pretty aware of your weaknesses. You may have even been told you need to work on them seriously. Maybe you struggle with grammar or have a hard time putting yourself out there socially and are desperately trying to improve.
But how often do you think about your strengths? Each one of us has unique natural gifts or learned experiences that we bring to the table. The trouble is, so many of us are so conditioned to focus on our flaws that we completely ignore the things we naturally excel at. If we focused on these, maybe we could be truly exceptional.
Now, Discover Your Strengths: How To Develop Your Talents and Those of the People You Manage by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton will help you identify your own special strengths and harness their power in your life.
Not only that, but you will learn how to find these talents in people you manage and help them get on the path to excellence as well.
These are 3 of the best lessons the book teaches:
- When we focus on our weaknesses, we are missing out on taking advantage of our strengths.
- You can combine natural talent with learned skills to create a new strength.
- You can discover your talents and the talents of your employees and use these to find real success.
Ready to discover your strengths and start to stand out more? Here we go!
Lesson 1: Sometimes, we focus far too much on weaknesses, and it makes us completely forget we have valuable strengths.
From a young age, it seems like we’re encouraged to identify what we’re bad at and try to improve. Why is this? If we spent time searching for what we’re good at, we would find much more success.
You might be wondering how exactly you identify a strength. The authors define it as an activity that you can repeatedly do to perfection. Or in other words, if you can do something well over and over again and you enjoy it, it’s probably a strength.
Organizations that allow employees to use their strengths on a daily basis are both more successful and sustainable. The Gallup Organization asked 198,000 workers across many different types of businesses whether they do what they are best at every day.
They found that the 20 percent of employees who strongly agreed with this question were 50 percent more likely to work somewhere where there was less employee turnover. They were also 44 percent more likely to work in a company with higher customer satisfaction and 38 percent more likely to work in a more productive business.
But even though we have the data, many organizations insist on concentrating on having employees work on weaknesses, wasting time and money.
For example, employees often get sent to special training programs that involve correcting weaknesses rather than growing strengths. Unfortunately, when we spend time doing damage control rather than development, we completely neglect an employee’s true potential.
That’s not to say damage control isn’t necessary at times, but certainly, it shouldn’t be the entire focus of managing employees if you want them to really reach their potential.
Lesson 2: Combine the natural talent you have with new skills, and you have yourself a new strength.
We all love doing things we’re good at, right? But have you ever thought about why we are good at certain things? Some people might say it’s all about practice, but that’s not the whole story. You’ve likely built your strengths because you had a natural talent to begin with.
A talent is a thought or behavior pattern that makes things easier for you than for your average person. For example, maybe you’re the kind of person that can strike up a conversation with anyone. Or maybe you are good at just about any sport you try.
We can develop these dispositions into strengths. Developing a strength requires refining your talent with both skills and knowledge. We can acquire knowledge factually, experientially, or both. For example, learning the piano will mean you have to learn factual things about it, like what time signature is. But it also requires experiential learning by practicing regularly.
The more experience you have with something, the more you’ll build skills, improving your performance. For example, if you are practicing being a public speaker, you may develop the skill of capturing your audience’s attention.
Developing a strength doesn’t happen overnight. It will take work. But the more we practice, the more those specific synaptic connections in our brain will be reinforced. The stronger these connections, the more proficient we will become at something until we have a valuable, unique strength.
Lesson 3: You can find your own strengths as well as the strengths of others and use them to excel in the workplace.
You might be wondering how you identify the strengths you already have. To do this, look at your reactions to everyday situations.
For example, say your employee says they won’t be able to come in because their child is sick. If your reaction is asking about the child, it might be a sign you have a talent for empathy. On the other hand, if you are immediately thinking about who can fill in, your talent might be rapid problem-solving.
Often talents appear early on in our life. I mean, Mozart managed to write his first symphony when he was only 12. So if you look at what you were interested in when you were young, you might find a hidden talent you had forgotten about.
Another way to spot a talent you might have is by looking at things you pick up fast. For example, were you particularly good at rock climbing the first time you tried? This might be a hidden gift calling out to you.
If you are a manager, it is crucial to look for natural talents in your employees. Uncovering their strengths can be the key to achieving productivity like never before. The authors identified at least 34 types of talents that are relevant to organizations that you can look for.
One example of these is a commander. This employee isn’t afraid to share her opinion and won’t shy away from confrontation when she’s trying to find a solution. Managers can use commanding types like this to find insights on what they can do to improve workplace relationships.
Another example is the restorative type. This person enjoys solving problems and can lift spirits even when things might feel hopeless. These people excel in customer relations. Managers can use their help when they need a solution or a reassuring response.
Now, Discover Your Strengths Review
I love books about strengths and Now, Discover Your Strengths has got to be one of my new favorites! The methods it teaches for finding strengths are unique, and I can’t wait to try them out myself.
Who would I recommend the Now, Discover Your Strengths summary to?
The 49-year-old manager that wants to bring out the best in their employees, the 32-year-old who wants to find the clearest path to success, and anyone that wants to discover their hidden talents so they can reach their full potential.