Your Strengths Are Your Sails

August 2016

Peter Drucker, often called the founder of modern business management, was famous for suggesting that when we focus more on strengths, our weaknesses become irrelevant.   Robert Biswas-Diener, one of our favorite positive psychologists, has a really great take on this idea.  He says that it isn’t that we should ignore our weaknesses, and at times we may actually have to address them if they are getting in our way, but not at the expense of focusing on our strengths.  Developing our strengths is what energizes and propels us forward.   Robert uses a fabulous metaphor for strengths and weaknesses-and we always love a good metaphor!  He likens weaknesses to the water sloshing around the baseboard of a sailboat-we might notice it but, hey, we’re sailing, it’s to be expected!  On the other hand, if too much water gathers or there’s a leak, we have to bail some of it out or plug the leak so we don’t sink. If there’s breach in the hull, we might have to take more extreme measures and dock the sailboat for repairs.   In the long run, though, even if our boat is perfectly intact, when we actually want to move, our strengths are our sails.  We need them to go forward!

  • Below are some of the strategies that we recommend for optimizing our strengths:
  • Identify strengths
  • Build a vocabulary of strengths
  • Develop your strengths
  • Use strengths that energize you more
  • Use qualities that deplete you less
  • Couple strengths with weaknesses
  • Partner with others
  • Become strengths spotters      

We’ve included a list of different ways to identify your strengths.  Some of them are actual strengths assessments, but others, like the Myers Briggs, are personality profiles that showcase strengths by identifying where we get our energy most. 

  • Values in Action Survey of Character Strengths (VIA)https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/testcenter
  • Center for Applied Positive Psychology Realise http://www.cappeu.com/R2StrengthsProfiler
  • Gallup Strengths Finder https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/
  • Myers Briggs http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp 
  • The Enneagram https://www.eclecticenergies.com/enneagram/test.php
  • Think of what engages you most
  • Ask people you know and trust

We’ve made a free handout on strengths which you can access here–feel free to reprint this and distribute to your heart’s content.  And enjoy exploring the world of strengths. Smooth sailing!   Positively yours, Rebecca and Gioia 

Art Directive

Spend the week noticing your strengths and those of the people in your life.  Make a symbol for one of your strengths–a shape, animal, vehicle, type of tree, weather condition, etc. And then make one for the significant people in your life.  Feel free to share your image with us on our facebook page.