The Importance of Using your Unique Strengths

Research on strengths shows that focusing attention on strengths is beneficial within the educational and work milieu.

Louis (2009) links increased intrinsic motivation and effort to strengths-based curricula. Similarly, students who make the most of their strengths within educational settings are better at building on their past success towards mobilizing support for current initiatives (Bowers & Lopez, 2010).

Research also shows that those who work at a calling in life- rather than a job or a career – are more satisfied and have better lives all around.   A key component of finding your calling is knowing one’s strengths. In the organizational context, Harter, Schmidt, & Hayes (2002) found that using strengths leads to greater levels of work engagement.

When I was trying to figure out my purpose, part of what I did was identify my strengths. I had done countless assessments: VIA, Gallup, Insights, R2, that I found gratifying and a useful part of the process, but not a key part in solving the puzzle. They left me with a list, often at a high level, that I could identify with but not really see the specific applicability for grounding a work search. I uncovered my unique strengths through my own introspective appreciative inquiry. Still, do the strengths tests; more data points don’t hurt right!?

In delving into strengths, I realized that it is important to understand how using that strength makes me feel and how natural it is for me to use it. These questions that I asked weren’t point blank, e.g. what are my strengths? That didn’t really get me too far.

Today I’m going to give you a glimpse into the process I use for myself and others to uncover their undeniable, driving strengths by sharing one of the questions:

  • What is such a part of you that no one could pay you to stop doing?

Delving into this question, requires more than identifying the things you love to do, e.g. skiing (for me). As an example, two of my unique strengths are asking introspective questions and pushing into potential. Think about who you are, what you really couldn’t stop yourself from doing/being because it is such a big part of you. This is the place where you are uniquely you. 


Bowers, K.M., & Lopez, S. (2010). Capitalizing on personal strengths in college. Journal of College and Character, 11, 1–11.

Louis, M.C. (2009). A summary and critique of existing strengths-based educational research Utilizing the Clifton Strengths Finder. Internal paper, The Gallup Organization.

Harter, J.K., Schmidt, F.L., & Hayes, T.L. (2002). Business unit-level relationship between employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and business outcomes: A meta analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 268–279