Some time ago I took a number of psychometric assessments to help me figure out what I wanted to do in my next career. The Birkman(R) inventory, StrengthFinder(R) and the VIA Character Strengths inventory were among the instruments that I used to help me explore a key element of career happiness, my strengths.
After reading the assessment reports I was just as confused as before I started. Each one used different terms and classifications that did not appear to be connected. Similarly, a couple of my clients have shared with me the reports of their assessments hoping that I could cut through the muddle and provide clarity. Unfortunately, I have not yet found an assessment that works for me.
Rather, I like to use two approaches. One is the Calling Card(TM) approach where a client sorts through a number of strengths to identify the one thing they bring to the table as well as the top few others from which they chose. In my experience, most people need several turns to feel strongly that they have identified their “calling card.” This works even better in teams where each member of the team shares his or her calling card with the group and asks and receives feedback on it – usually confirming the aptness of the choice.
The other approach is to ask a few people who know us well, what it is about us that they value most. Asking a friend or co-worker for this information has the added benefit that it allows the opportunity to acknowledge a strength that may be assumed or taken for granted. Hearing that others value a part of our character can provide a boost to our confidence and, importantly, allows us to think differently about how we relate to others.
Since using and building on our strengths is one of the three key elements of Career Happiness, it is valuable to have a way of determining our strengths that can be expressed in terms we understand and can internalize.
Try it – Ask three people you know what they value about you or what they see as your strength. You will be surprised and find the information invaluable.
Also, don’t discuss, debate or deny whatever they tell you. Other than to ask for examples or clarification the only appropriate response to whatever they say is “Thank you”.