Strengths-based Approach to Development

by Stephanie Walters

A strengths approach to personal development

Traditionally, we think of personal development as improving the aspects of ourselves in which we are underperforming. However, the strengths approach focuses on raising awareness of your strengths and then helping you to harness and apply these strengths more in your day to day work.

Enjoy work more and build confidence

Many tools that identify your strengths define them as the things you love to do rather than the things that you are good at. If you focus on what you’re not good at or what went wrong and where you need to do better, this can lead to unhelpful and limiting thoughts and emotions. On the other hand, when you focus on your strengths and the things that you love to do, you begin to feel more energised and produce more helpful emotions, which can give you the confidence to deal with setbacks. When we feel good we are better able to deal with problems and challenges. So, by finding out what your strengths are and how you can use them more often, you can do more of what you love and/or work in a way that most energises you.

But shouldn’t I concentrate on my weak points?

The most common argument against the strengths approach is that it could potentially ignore problems and weaknesses, which may then not be addressed. Taking a strengths approach, however, is not about ignoring weaknesses; it is about focusing as much on strengths as on weaknesses. Ironically, you are far more likely to overcome a weakness if you approach it from a position of strength.

Once strengths have been identified, they can then be used to help overcome weaker areas and build confidence in your ability to tackle difficult or challenging situations. More importantly, they can in themselves be areas that can be enhanced and incorporated as development points in terms of finding ways to use them more.

We are not in a position in which we have nothing. We already have capacities, talents, direction, missions, callings.

Abraham Maslow