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Chris Mason is one of Australia’s leading management consultants.  He formed Mindshop International in 1995 to provide a high value environment for successful business advisors to receive access to a wealth of resources and training support.  Mindshop has grown from a handful of business advisors in Melbourne, Australia to a global organization of over 500 members in 9 countries – including the USA.  We are honored that he has agreed to contribute to our blog.

Plan to Your Strengths

By Chris Mason

 I’ve recently needed as part of my PhD studies to assess my “signature strengths” and to work out how best to leverage them.  I used two different tests, one from the book “Now Discover Your Strengths” by Buckingham & Clifton, and the other from the book “Authentic Happiness” by Seligman.

There was good consistency in these assessments.  The Seligman model proposes six themes; my top three were designated as (1) Wisdom & Knowledge, (2) Transcendence, and (3) Justice.  Of these, transcendence needs some explanation.  There are seven strengths in the transcendence theme: appreciation of beauty, gratitude, hope, spirituality, forgiveness, humor, and zest.

Have you ever thought about your strengths and how to best leverage them?  It is the leverage of the strengths that is the key.  Many organizations have a culture of focusing on the negatives regarding their people whereas my view is that we need to play to our strengths. When I hire anyone I want them to be strong in my areas of weakness.  My attention to detail is poor and my knowledge of financial matters average.  According to Seligman my lowest strength (biggest weakness) is humility, no surprises there.

My argument regarding my humility issue is that an early career where I was always considered too young for my roles encouraged me to develop a strong ego to withstand the personal attacks and criticisms that I received.  My ego was my protector and so now, in my 60’s, I find it hard to turn it off. WhileI would prefer to be more humble, it is only a minor inconvenience in my life.  My top ranked strength was hope, defined as “you expect the best in the future, and you plan and work in order to achieve it” (Seligman, 2002, p.155).  Coupled with my second strength perspective and the third strength curiosity, I am a strategic thinker.

I strongly encourage all the readers to find a credible strengths test, apply it to themselves, and then ponder on how to best leverage the signature strengths.  Your strengths are more important than your weaknesses; make sure that you use them wisely and well. 

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Mark Ellsworth and Matt Heemstra are members of Mindshop International and Accredited Mindshop Facilitators.

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