Eric Howard | February 3, 2016

We all seem to agree that it’s important to find and follow your passion, for career happiness. But passion is only one of the key ingredients of what I like to refer to as the career home run.

Just like hitting a home run in baseball, you score a career home run when you are able to combine something you are passionate about with your biggest strengths.

So, what exactly are your strengths? They are the unique qualities and abilities you possess. The problem is, you are often blind to your own strengths. They come naturally to you and, therefore, you tend to take them for granted. I only realized my strength of being a good listener when friends and co-workers in past jobs pointed it out to me.

Are strengths innate or can they be learned? Without wading into the nature/nurture debate, I’d say in many cases, both. I was raised to be friendly and polite to people and to do them the courtesy of listening to what they have to say. It is also in my nature.

I tend to think that playing to your natural strengths is a better way to go than expending huge amounts of energy on trying to turn your weaknesses into strengths – unless it would be debilitating to do otherwise or it’s something you truly desire to be good at.

How can your strengths be discovered? Here are some places to start:

Ask! Ask your boss, clients, friends, family, colleagues, teachers, mentors, acquaintances. I once was asked by a particularly difficult colleague to provide this feedback via email. I actually found that the process helped me to see more of the good in him (so there may be some side benefits to this exercise).

Use a strengths questionnaire / survey. There are plenty online, both free and for a fee, that will prompt you to respond and reveal your strengths.

– A favorite of mine is to use Strength Cards – these can be shuffled through or spread out on the floor giving a visual and tactile means to responding to the suggested possible strengths.

Walk through some of your past achievement stories and think step by step of what strengths you possessed that helped you deliver your actions and outcomes. I particularly like to use this method with clients who have trouble recognizing their own strengths and yet have had plenty of accomplishments and stories to tell.

Make sure you keep a list of your strengths and keep adding to your strengths portfolio. You may hear compliments, or be asked to look after certain jobs, tasks or projects as recognition of strengths. Keep building on your list of strengths. (Have a goal of finding at least five.)

Let me know which method of finding strengths worked the best for you.

Meanwhile, to your strengths and career happiness!

Eric Howard
Founder, The Next Phase Coaching, LLC