Cultivating Your Personal Strengths

Embrace, and focus on the development of, your personal strengths

When we focus on our personal strengths, we often become more engaged in the process of self-improvement and the development of inner resources. Recognizing what you’re good at, how those skills and characteristics help you reach goals, succeed, or make meaningful connections, can increase your sense of self-worth. Maintaining a strength-based focus can motivate you to continue to grow, learn, and progress toward your full potential. Creating reminders of who we are and who we’re becoming keeps us focused through distraction, and enhances resilience during times of struggle or transformation.

Shifts in mindset that result from a greater focus on the positives, particularly those that encourage the extension of more kindness and compassion toward ourselves, will bring us closer to our true potential. Those who embrace their personal strengths often feel more satisfied and content with who they are and their circumstances. Perhaps most importantly, belief in ourselves, and our abilities, is fundamentally necessary to reaching all other goals.

Personal Strengths

Any skill, ability, characteristic, or trait that feeds your spirit, energizes you, or sets you apart, is a strength. This includes those things you’re competent in, or excel at. Strengths may be rare qualities, or things that contribute to your uniqueness. Some strengths come to us naturally, are easy for us, personally, to learn, others are developed slowly, over extended periods of time.

Those things that give you energy, that your passionate about are strengths
Those things that give you energy, that your passionate about are strengths

Defining Personal Strengths

Taken broadly, your personal strengths include skills you might describe at a job interview, and also capabilities learned through a hobby. Your greatest strengths may be a source of pride, integral to your identity. And, without a doubt, you have strengths that aren’t apparent to you, but are blatantly obvious to others. Tapping into our personal strengths will help unleash our true potential.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Strengths & Weaknesses

During introspection, many people see their own weaknesses, magnified, in high definition, while their personal strengths are teeny, tiny, and blurry. Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon, when staring at one’s own reflection, literally and figuratively, to extend judgement, criticism, and blame.

If you’re a perfectionist (by definition, set up to continuously fall short of your own impossible standards), you may go through life carrying a backpack filled with disappointment, guilt, and shame. Perfectionists tend to give others leeway, understanding they’re only human, while expecting a flawless performance from themselves.

There are those who keep searching for strengths, but only come back with weaknesses. Because our thoughts, like our bodies, are creatures of habit, you can help put an end to incessantly beating yourself up by retraining your brain to focus on the positive. Begin by noticing that personal strengths and weaknesses can be two sides of the same coin.

I work hard ↔ I’m a workaholic
I’m creative ↔ My head is always in the clouds
I’m outgoing ↔ I talk too much
I’m introspective ↔ I’m too shy
I’m frugal ↔ I’m cheap

 Strategic thinkers know that there is a point which:⁣⁣

Strengths become weaknesses –
Weaknesses become strengths -⁣⁣⁣⁣
Opportunities become threats -⁣⁣
Threats become opportunities -⁣⁣

Richie Norton

You have the power to flip that coin back to the other side!

Valuing Our Talents, Skills, & Assets

Sometimes, people not only find it hard to identify, but also to acknowledge, their own strengths. Perhaps to do so would seem immodest, or maybe they’re aware of a strength, but don’t fully appreciate the value of it.

The inability to see, determine, or acknowledge one’s personal strengths has a plethora of negative consequences. Those who don’t value themselves are apt to engage in people-pleasing, chasing external validation. This quest can become obsessive, leading to being taken advantage of, professionally, or remaining in one-sided, or otherwise unhealthy personal relationships.

What we cannot see,
we cannot foster,
or draw upon to reach our goals,
create the life of our dreams,
or become the best possible version of ourselves.

Make a commitment to yourself, today,
to cultivate your strengths!

Focus on Positive Attributes to Unlock Your Full Potential

The activities, and exercises, that follow are designed to help you develop, realign with, and commit to expanding your personal strengths. To consciously, and regularly, contemplate, strive to improve upon, and celebrate what makes you great!

Personal Strengths Trait List

Read the list of terms below, pausing each time you come across one that you feel you possess. Consider how, and when, you obtained that attribute. Take a minute to appreciate how that quality has positively impacted your life.

AccurateDetail-orientedInsightfulPrecise
Action-orientedDeterminedInspirationalPrudent
AdventurousDisciplinedIntegrity (have)Punctual
AmbitiousDirectIntelligentQuick-witted
AnalyticalEfficientKindResourceful
AppreciativeEmpatheticLead (able to)Respectful
ApproachableEnergeticListen (willing to)Responsible
ArtisticEntertainingLivelySelf-assured
AssertiveEnthusiasticLogicalSelf-control (having)
AthleticFairLovelySmart
AttentiveFlexibleLoyalSocial
AuthenticFocusedMercifulSpiritual
CaringFriendlyModestSpontaneous
CharmingFrugalMotivatedStrategic
CleverFunnyNegotiate (able to)Tactful
CollaborativeGenerousObservantTech savvy
CompassionateGracefulOne of a kindThink critically (able to)
ConfidentGraciousOpen-mindedThoughtful
ConsiderateHelpfulOptimisticThrifty
CourageousHonestOrganizedTolerant
CreativeHopefulOutgoingTrustworthy
CuriousHumblePatientVersatile
DecisiveHumorousPeacefulVisionary
DedicatedIdealisticPersistent,Warm
Delegate (able to)IndependentPersuasiveWelcoming
DeliberateInquisitivePracticalWise
Use the Trait List to Identify Some of Your Personal Strengths

Talents vs. Skills

When you think about your positive attributes, those traits that give you an edge, are you including talents and skills? Quite a few people preference their skills over their talents, or vice versa. If you were identified early in life as having a natural propensity for math, music, art, or athletics, you may have learned to give more weight to talents. If, on the other hand, you grew up around parents, mentors, coaches, or teachers, who praised and emphasized skills acquired through hard work, perseverance, or “blood, sweat, and tears”, you may be more likely to notice and invest in skills.

I’m a great believer in luck,
and I find, the harder I work,
the more I have of it.

Thomas Jefferson

Our Values May Influence Our Abilities

There’s often a connection or overlap between what we value, what we’re interested in, and what we’re good at.

Someone who values wisdom or knowledge, for instance, may love learning. They might become a chess master, a math whiz, or speak multiple languages, fluently.

If someone admires courage and bravery, their greatest personal strengths may be motivation, determination, and willpower.  

Curiosity about, or fascination with, people may steer someone toward kindness or provide them with empathy. They may develop significantly more emotional intelligence than the average person.

Taking Action – Identify Your Personal Strengths “Top Ten”

Take some time to consider what your personal strengths are, as well as some of the qualities and characteristics that you possess. Record what you consider to be your top ten strengths.

What are you best at? What are your admirable traits?  List ten of your personal strengths. Discover a path to your full potential.
What are you best at? What are your admirable traits? List ten of your personal strengths. Discover a path to your full potential.

Order the Complete Personal Strengths Toolkit!

This post is an excerpt from Identify & Embrace Your Strengths: On the Path to Personal Empowerment, a guide to nurturing your full potential. Purchase the full toolkit!

Author profile

Chris Elle Dove is the author of Gabby Makes a Friend, and the upcoming picture book, Sadie's Sea Turtle. She's been teaching sociology courses at community colleges since 2005. Her hobbies include meditation, cooking, hiking, and running. Chris is the proud mother of two beautiful, adult children and one German Shepherd.

4 thoughts on “Cultivating Your Personal Strengths

  1. I love this message:Those things that give you energy, that your passionate about are strengths!! Thank you for sharing such valuable advice.

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