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    How to Discover Your Strengths for Authentic Career Success

    (November 29, 2010) - Here is an article from a Certified Career, Business, and Life Coach, Adrian Klaphaak, Adrian is the founder of A Path That Fits.

    Strengths are a fundamental part of a career path that fits. Whether you are in the process of making a career change or committed to your current career path, aligning your work with your strengths will lead to greater fulfillment and success. You can use your strengths to help you find a new career path that is better fit for you and/or move forward in your current career with greater ease and success. In this article I will explain how.

    Martin Seligman, one of the pioneers in the field of positive psychology explains, "I do not believe that you should devote overly much effort to correcting your weaknesses. Rather, I believe that the highest success in living and the deepest emotional satisfaction comes from building and using your signature strengths."

    When your career is aligned with your strengths, it feels natural, even effortless. Your work flows out of a deeper part of yourself, beyond learned abilities and skills. You still have to work hard but it feels authentic.

    Nature is a great reference for us to better understand the power and simplicity of life when it is aligned with strengths. Animals are a great example of authentic strengths alignment. Every animal that I can think of exists (and is "successful") because its way of life is aligned with its core strengths.

    Let's take a look at two birds - a hawk and an egret - as examples of living in alignment with strengths. A hawk's strengths are its vision, powerful talons, and agility. Accordingly, it hunts (goes to work) by hovering high above grasslands and open spaces. It uses its amazing vision to see rodents and its swift flight and strong talons to make the kill. An egret's strengths are its long sharp beak, long neck, and long legs. It hunts by standing still on its long legs in shallow water, waiting for a fish to swim by so that it can thrust its long neck forward and spear the fish with its long beak. Can you imagine what would happen if an egret went to work in the open grasslands, trying to swoop down and catch mice with its webbed feet or long beak? I think its safe to say that it wouldn't be very successful. The same goes for a hawk trying to stalk its prey in a marsh. It would perish. But when we see these birds in their right environment (in the career path that fits) we see beauty and grace and natural success.

    The same is true for us human animals. When our careers are aligned with our strengths, we are naturally successful, masterfully performing our work with ease and grace. Alternatively, when misaligned, we try way too hard and feel overwhelmed and frustrated that we can't perform at the level we know we can. It doesn't have to be that way.

    Butů animals have it easy in this respect. They don't have the same challenge of discovering their strengths and choosing the right career. They are born into their life's work. We, as humans, have more of a challenge. We have to discover our strengths and choose a career that fits. It's not as easy as looking at our physical features to identify our strengths. We need a way of seeing ourselves, particularly our strengths, that goes beneath the surface. The big question is: How do you discover your strengths? Here are two strengths discovery methods that have worked especially well for taking a look beneath the surface to discover your innate strengths.

    Discover Your Strengths Activity 1: Past Successes & Accomplishments
      Step 1. Think of three or more experiences in which you accomplished something that you considered to be a success or did something that you were proud of yourself for doing. These experiences don't have to be successes to anyone but you. They could be singular accomplishments like completing a project or recurring themes that show up throughout your life. For example, I consider the many times that I helped my friends find their way through personal challenges to be successes that made good use of my strengths. These weren't stand out accomplishments but rather recurring themes that held a lot of meaning.

      Step 2. After you have identified three successes, accomplishments, or experiences that you are proud of, pinpoint the strengths that you used to make each one of those experience a success. Write a separate list of strengths for each experience so that you can start to see which strengths show up more than once.
    Discover Your Strengths Activity 2: Ask "Your People"

    Ask the people that know you well in professional and personal life (friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, etc.) to answer the following questions about the strengths that they see in you. I recommend asking a total of five people so that you get a full picture of what strengths other people see in you.
      1. What do you see as my strengths?
      2. How can you imagine me applying these strengths in my career?
        a. What roles, functions, and work activities could you imagine me doing in alignment with these strengths?
        b. What other careers can you imagine me pursuing that are aligned with these strengths?
    There are numerous other ways to discover your strengths that I use in my "A Career Path That Fits" career coaching process with clients. If these methods don't work for you, it doesn't mean that you don't have strengths. Everyone has strengths. Everyone has an innate gift. The Crow Native American Indians have a simple saying that speaks to this truth, "You already possess everything necessary to become great."

    After discovering your strengths, the next step to moving forward on a career path that fits is to identify careers that are aligned with your strengths, or redesign your existing career to make better use of your strengths. Knowing your strengths isn't going to do anything for you or anyone else unless you apply them in a meaningful way. But that is another article all together.

    Feel free to give us (at A Path That Fits) a call to explore how to find the right career for you that is aligned with your strengths or how to evolve your current job into a career path that capitalizes on your strengths. We offer a free thirty minute phone consultation - sign up on our website.

    About Adrian Klaphaak, Founder
    A Path That Fits, Inc.
    Certified Career, Business, and Life Coach
    I help people and organizations find a path that fits and develop their potential for success. I believe that everyone has a unique path that aligns their strengths and purpose to maximize their contribution to the world.

    My approach to coaching is holistic, balancing the need to get results with a quest for meaning and fulfillment. The evolution of my own path reflects this balance. (read more)

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