A Right Understanding of Strengths

This is from an Amazon review of Marcus Buckingham’s DVD resource, The Truth About You. It describes what a strength actually is very well:

Buckingham’s advice to success is simple: Work on your strengths. But it is his definition of “strength” that makes a world of difference.

To him, strength is not something you’re good at but something that excites you, something that you look forward to, something that makes you strong. The idea of focusing on how it feels when we’re doing something rather than on how well we perform it has changed the way I look at my life and my work for the better. Now I don’t feel embarrassed that I’m not good at math or regretful that I did not follow my teacher’s advice (you’re good at writing; therefore, you should be a lawyer). Instead, I give myself permission to concentrate on using what I’m good at in ways that make me feel accomplished and fulfilled. That does not necessarily mean it will translate into buckets and buckets of money. However, it sure beats waking up every morning to go to a job you do well but dread and hate.

Related to this is my post from a few months ago, “Your Weaknesses Are Not What You Are Bad At.”

For those seeking to get a better picture of their vocational direction (and I mean first of all in your current job, rather than finding a different job), I would recommend Buckingham’s DVD set.

The most helpful thing about it is actually this little book that comes with it in which you record, over the course of a week, the things that weakened you and the things that strengthened you. By reviewing going through this exercise and then reviewing your entries you can get a better idea of your strengths and weaknesses (and remember: your weaknesses are not necessarily what you are bad at; they are what drain you).

If you are interested in a more in-depth treatment of strengths and how to get a better picture of what your own strengths are, I would also recommend Buckingham’s book Go Put Your Strengths to Work.

  • Scottie T

    I am a big fan of the Gallup line of strengths based personal development books. They even have one with a Christian focus called Living Your Strengths that lists Biblical passages that are relevant to each of the 30+ strength areas.

  • http://jotsandtittles.wordpress.com/ A. Raj Rao

    Just thinking out loud… and still processing the above.

    I am currently reading Os Guinness’ book, The Call, which I strongly would recommend. I’ve made it through 6 chapters so far. In it Guinness talks about our gifts being a primary indicator of the direction of our Call. I think Guinness would say that a gift would be something that you are both good at and also excites you.

    God Bless,
    ~ R. Rao

  • http://www.squarepeggedness.wordpress.com Rachael Starke

    I’m still wrestling through this idea, because my strengths and gifts are mostly in areas outside my current calling. I’m strong at communication; I’m weak at organization. I’m strong at outside-the-box thinking; I’m weak at home decorating and craft-making.

    IOW, I’m a former business woman who’s now a stay at home wife and mother. Many of the things I dread are the things I’m called to each day. And my greatest experience of God’s power has been in those moments when I’m utterly incapable of what I need to do next (usually something involving cleaning). I do get that when we have a choice, we should pursue the avenue that most lines up with where we’re skilled and strong. But it seems that, especially these days, when many people are in jobs they hate but that pay the bills, or who are considering taking a job they’d hate but would pay the bills, or who, like me, for the sake of obedience are doing what’s hard with His help, rather than what’s attractive to our strengths, what we need is more help with our weaknesses.

    This is not at all a complaint or criticism, BTW. Just an observation. If there was a resource on “How to Do What You Can’t (But Have To Anyway)”, I’d read it. :)

  • Scottie T


    I struggled with the same thoughts and issues as you expressed. In some cases, discovering our strengths and spiritual gifts can give us the realization that we are in completely the wrong occupation or vocation. But for most people, understanding our strengths can serve to help us understand how we can accomplish the things that have been placed in our care with less resistance and more effectiveness. The trick is to tilt your approach to things so as to minimize your weaknesses and maximize your strengths. I would highly recommend that you check out Go Put Your Strengths to Work”. Marcus Buckingham specifically addresses the “How to Do What You Can’t (But Have To Anyway)” dilemma.