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How to Discover Your Strengths

How often have you been told you're great at something and just brushed it off as nothing? I'm extremely good at doing that and never believing it's a sincere compliment or acknowledgment of a genuine strength I have. After all, isn't that just something we all do naturally without thinking about it?

There are various different tools you can use to find out about your strengths and we've tried a few, so we thought we'd share our thoughts with you. Whichever method you choose, remember that when we use our strengths, we start to build our self-esteem. This is because using our strengths gives us a feeling of positivity and also gives us the confidence that we are doing something well. If you'd like us to help you find out what your strengths are, just give us a call.


Strengthscope helps individuals to understand their standout strengths, the unintended consequences that may arise when strengths go into overdrive, the extent to which they are able to productively apply their strengths at work and how visible their strengths are to others.

The feedback report provides a full description of your 'significant 7' strengths, along with ideas of how you can put these strengths to better use at work. The feedback report forms a basis for a strengths-focused feedback session to provide you with the best chance of achieving your personal best at work.

The test is very widely used (over 170,000 profiles worldwide) with an option to have a 360 view of your strengths, which is a big plus for us. It draws on 24 strengths which enables a slightly greater focus and the report helps you see where your strengths may be in overdrive as well as using them to your absolute best.

The test was easy to use and the questions asked were very similar to other tests we've tried. It was fairly quick to complete and results came through in good time. The 'significant 7' strengths on the 10 page report were well explained and useful tips were given to take forward. The report also lists descriptions of all 24 of the Strengthscope strengths which is a great in helping you understand your strengths in more detail.


Realise2 assesses 60 strengths according to the three dimensions of energy, performance and use, unlike other one-dimensional strengths test. These three dimensions are then used to identify where your strengths lie across the four categories of realised strengths, unrealised strengths, learned behaviours and weaknesses. The results:

• Give you insights into your strengths and weaknesses

• Help you distinguish your strengths from your learned behaviours

• Provide you with a strengths language that enables you to share your strengths with others

• Build your capability to use your strengths to achieve your goals

The test has been taken by 70,000+ people around the world. We use it in our Exploring Strengths workshop and it is also used by organisations including Aviva, the Co-operative, Ernst & Young and HSBC among others.

I found it really easy to use and whilst, as with most of these types of tests, the questions felt a bit 'samey' it didn't take long to do. The results came through quite quickly and were really interesting. The four categories were useful and the descriptions of each strength gave a great insight into how they fit into your personality. There is plenty of information for you to take away and I found this to be the most accurate from the knowledge I already had about my strengths and personality type - and of course having had a coaching session with our Director, Jen.

Values in Action

The Values in Action Me! Character Strengths Profile is designed to help people discover the strengths they already have and gain deeper insight into what makes them who they are. Profiles and reports are based on responses to the VIA Inventory of Strengths Survey. The VIA Inventory of Strengths is a 120 question scientifically validated self-assessment tool developed to measure a person's character strengths. The VIA Survey has been taken more than 1.3 million times by people worldwide. It has been translated into more than 19 languages.

This assessment seemed to take go on forever, and again the questions were very similar, but the thing I found most difficult was the focus on faith and religion. This may be a cultural thing as VIA is a US based company, but the survey won't allow you to miss a question and as an atheist myself I found that all I could do was answer 'neutral' so perhaps not giving a true reflection of myself. If you have a religious faith and take the test, please do share your thoughts on this.

The results were available straight away but there are varying degrees of results and the free version was quite thin, just listing your top 5 strengths with a brief description. I didn't pay for any of the other versions, so they make have more depth and be of more use. However, I felt that the results were a bit light on information and certainly had that super positive US feel to them. Maybe I'm just a cynical old Brit, so if you're a US reader let us know what you think.

At My Best

The At My Best strength cards are double sided with pictures on one side and a single word on the other e.g. 'compassionate'.

In order to identify your strengths you are supposed to

1. Take the cards, word side up

2. Look at each card in turn, and use the word to complete the phrase 'At my best I am...'

3. Sort the cards into three piles

'Definitely me', 'Not sure', 'Not me'

4. Take the 'Definitely me' pile; identify 5–8 cards which resonate with you most

This was the hardest of the three to do because you aren't entirely sure if you're choosing them because you really are like you, or because you want to be like that, although I did have the challenge of doing it alone and you do get much more value if you can bring a friend, coach or team in. I chose 14 cards that I felt were definitely me and then whittled that down to 5. It may not the most scientific test, especially if you're doing it alone, but if you get someone else to choose those cards for you and then discuss the outcome it would lead to an interesting conversation. We use them successfully in coaching and team events and participants always enjoy the process.

This leads me to an alternative way to look at this;

Reflected Best Self

Reflected best self is based on research by psychologists Robert Quinn, Jane Dutton, Gretchen Spreitzer and Laura Morgan Roberts. It involves emailing people who know you well, asking them to write a story about a time when you were at your best and then using the common patterns to create a portrait of your strengths. Many describe it as eye-opening, even life-changing.

How you do it:

1. Identify 10-20 people who know you well from different walks of life, and ask them to write about a time when you were at your best.

2. Once the feedback arrives, look for the common themes that appear in multiple stories. Make a list of the themes, the key examples that support each them, and what they suggest about your strengths.

3. Using this information, write out a brief profile of who you are when you're at your best.

4. Create an action plan for how and when you'll utilise your strengths.

Bear in mind when selecting your sources that diversity is crucial; the best sources are a mix of personal and professional contacts. Research shows that feedback is more energising and actionable when it comes from a diverse group of friends, family members, colleagues, and mentors who can paint a comprehensive picture of your strengths.

I haven't yet been brave enough to try this approach, it feels a little odd asking people to tell me how great I am and I'm not entirely sure I'm up for the inevitable negative comments, regardless of how small, but one of these days...

If you've used any of these, or other, strengths tools let us know what you thought of them. Let us know what the upsides and downsides were and whether you would recommend them. We'd love to hear from you.



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