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Identify and use your strengths for optimal functioning

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
- Albert Einstein -

Let's start with an experiment: take a piece of paper, a pen and write "I use my strength" with your not preferential hand. Write down what you feel inside. Then do the same thing with the other hand.

What do we feel when we use something that is not our preference? We lose energy, we constrain ourselves, we feel frustration, and in the end it wears us out. Whereas if we focus on our preference, we take pleasure, we gain energy, and we can develop twice as fast.

This experience describes the difference between strength and weakness. Our society is built around a key idea: "We must correct our weaknesses!" So most people are more aware of their weaknesses than of their strengths. Ask your colleague what his/her real strength are, he / she will not necessarily answer you; ask him rather what his/her weakness is, he / she will be able to quote you 10. Western society is built on this representation. From primary school we must fill gaps to progress and not strengthen our areas of excellence.

I. Another angle of approach is possible

What if we took another angle of approach? If we considered that to overcome our weaknesses, we had to focus on our strengths to get the best out of it?

The good news is that we all have strengths (humor, leadership, empathy, strategy, social intelligence, courage, sense of work, love, competition ...). According to a meta-analysis by the Gallup Organization[1], a company that focuses on potentiating the strengths of individuals has a 36% higher performance rate than other companies; on the contrary, a company that focuses on the offset of individual weaknesses has a 27% lower performance rate than other companies.[2]In this same analysis, the Gallup Organization asked the following question to 198,000 employees of different companies: "Do you get to use your strengths at work every day?". Respondents who answered "yes, absolutely" were the best performers in the organization, had the best customer satisfaction rate and the lowest staff turnover rate in their units. The best chances of professional and personal development of each individual reside in the areas where they possess their best assets.

Alex Linley describes a strength as "a strength is a pre-existing capacity for a particular way

of behaving, thinking, or feeling that is authentic and energising to the user, and enables optimal functioning, development and performance"[3]

Thus, a strength has three components:

- Authenticity: when I use this force, it is the true "me", individual’s sense of self

- Energy: when I activate this force, I gain energy

- Performance: I'm not just good when I use this force, I'm better than anyone, I am excellent

It is also said that a strength is present since childhood.

Attention, a strength is not a skill, nor a talent. A skill is an acquired ability that I now master, “I can do it well” (e.g mastery of excel, cook, write reports ...). A talent is a gift in a certain field that can be ruined if it is not exploited (singing, playing piano, skiing, painting ...).

It is also said that a strength is present since childhood.

Attention, a strength is not a skill, nor a talent. A skill is an acquired ability that I now master, “I can do it well” (e.g mastery of excel, cook, write reports ...). A talent is a gift in a certain field that can be ruined if it is not exploited (singing, playing piano, skiing, painting ...).

II. Personal and professional benefits of the use of strengths

On a personal level, the daily use of our strengths increases self-esteem and self-efficacy. Self-esteem is personal worth, "Do I have value just because I exist? ". Strengths will strengthen self-esteem because they are innate and therefore touch the "authentic self". The Feeling of Self-efficacy (FSE) is linked to self-confidence and is a recognition of previous successes, "Am I able to do it? ". The forces will strengthen the FSE because they give us tangible proof of our ability to do something.

The use of forces is also associated with psychological well-being (accomplishment), subjective well-being (happiness) and vitality (positive energy). The use of one of its forces in a new way (opening the field of use) makes it possible to reduce the symptoms of depression over 6 months. Finally the daily use of our strengths allows the increase of our life satisfaction on several aspects: the curiosity, the gratitude, the hope, the love and the joy of living.

On the professional field, the daily use of our strengths brings more positive emotions and pleasure to work. It allows, as we saw above, a better performance. In addition, strengths are one of the key factors in engagement. Engagement leads to performance, so using our strengths enables performance. What follows from all these benefits is obviously more satisfying work, in terms of meaning, pleasure and commitment.

To create a company based on the strengths of employees, it is necessary to develop three tools, informs us Marcus Buckingham[4]: a system of selection of employees based on the strengths; a management system based on the strengths; and a professional development system based on the strengths.

III. How to identify your strengths?

Several tools can help you identify your strengths:

- A coaching based on Positran Strengths Cards[5]to highlight your real strengths[6]

- The Via Character Test[7], free but not really complete nor detailed

- The R2 Strenghts Profile Test[8], paying and in English but the most complete that exists. This test examines 60 strengths across three dimensions: performance, energy, and use. It focuses on being (how to be in the world), communicating (transmitting and receiving information), motivating (levers of action), connecting (how we relate to others), thinking (our approach to situations)

- We regularly offer workshops on Strengths at Elveor.[9]

The interest of knowing your strengths is to be able, according to the 4M model, to Mobilize the realized strengths, to Maximize the unrealized (potential) strengths, to moderate the competences and to minimize the weaknesses.

“If you are who you are meant to be, you will put the world on fire!”
- C. De Sienne –

- Camille Lamouille -

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[2]Corporate Leadership Council, 2011

[3]Alex Linley and Robert Biswas-Diener, “The Strenghts Book: Be Confident, Be Successful and Enjoy Better Relationships by Realising the Best of You”

[4]Now, Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Bukingham and Donald Clifton, Pearson, 2013

[5]Strength Cards, Positran, Dr Ilona Boniwell and Dr Charles Martin-Krumm, 2014

[6]Contact us,



[9]Contact us,

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