How to find your key strengths

How to find your key strenghts

And why telling someone to ‘just follow their passion’ is bad advice.

‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’
 We’ve all heard it when we were young. We would have obvious answer things such as a policeman, nurse, mom, princess and superhero. But then you grow older, and the time to pick your field of studies comes fast. And then the answer to that question becomes harder.

When you have that conversation with people around you, about what you want to do in life, they’ll advise you; ‘Just follow your passion.’

Cal Newport tells you why that’s bad advice: “Not only is the cliché flawed — pre-existing passions are rare and have little to do with how most people end up loving their work — but it can also be dangerous, leading to anxiety and chronic job hopping.”

After making his case against passion, Cal Newport goes on a quest to discover the reality of how people end up loving what they do. He spends time with organic farmers, venture capitalists, screenwriters, freelance computer programmers, and others who told him that they receive great satisfaction from their work. Through this journey he uncovers the strategies they used and the pitfalls they avoided in developing their successful careers.

So saying ‘just follow your passion’ is wrong. But what is the right answer? Eric from Barking Up The Wrong Tree says: “You should realise you weren’t ‘born’ to do anything. Once we’ve found something we’re good at, we tell ourselves we were born for it because research shows stories like that retroactively give a powerful feeling of meaning.”

And the key to finding what you are good at lies in trying out loads of different things. Challenge yourself everyday by doing something you are not used to.

To help you find your talents (which some would refer to as ‘key strengths’), you can do a survey here. I did the survey myself and the outcome was great to read. I really recognised myself in the results.

My top 5 of key strengths were:

  1. Kindness
  2. Fairness
  3. Curiosity
  4. Hope
  5. Humour

What the test afterwards suggests is to do something with those key strengths and try to exercise them everyday. As a reward you will feel good about yourself, because you are using the strengths that you think are important.

“Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation.”
— Aristotle

Conclusion: My top key strengths is Kindness. How do I implement this strength into my everyday life?

Well that’s not too hard, because I actually care about being kind. I try to give many compliments to people around me when I notice something nice, help random people out, ask about my friends problems and help them solve it and so on. And the fun thing is: I’m all doing it for my own happiness, and in return I’m making people around me happy as well. Which in turn leads to success in whatever I decide to do.

It’s a win-win-win.