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STRENGTHening Executive Functioning

Updated: May 1, 2022

Finding, acknowledging, and tapping into your unique set of strengths is the foundation of meaningful success!

Before continuing my series ‘ a strengths based approach to finding and building a successful career‘, I wanted to touch on this important foundational work. Discovering and using your unique strengths greatly influences executive functioning skills, yet individuals are rarely explicitly taught how to identify them.

I believe that for every ‘weakness’ you hold an equal and opposite Strength.

Let’s discover them together!

Take out a sheet of paper or create a new electronic note. As you complete the activities below you’ll become aware of some of your personal strengths. Add all the strengths you discover to your list.

Let this list be an ongoing work-in-progress, adding and editing it as new self discoveries are made.

Remember strengths are broad, encompassing many different areas. There are no right or wrong ideas, so add anything that comes to mind!

Try these 6 activities to start your investigation

1. Consider what you enjoy

If you had a week off, completely free from any responsibilities, how would you spend your time?

What parts of your job/school do you like? What things/subjects/projects do you feel good at?

What are you doing or talking about when you feel most energized?

2. Reflect with others

Negativity bias and familiarity make our strengths hard to identify, so ask others for help. Pick a few people from different parts of your life (friends, family, colleagues), and inquire what they think your greatest strengths are, what they observe you getting energized about, or what qualities they like best in you.

If you agree with their perceptions, write these strengths down.

3. Listen to what others compliment you on

Any compliments that resonate with you? Add it to your list.

4. Get Personal

Think of times in the past that you felt successful? Are there any patterns you can detect through these different events….what kind of activities were you doing? What was the context (environment, culture, people)?

How would you describe your personality?

What qualifications, awards, accomplishments do you have?

When you look back at the past week, what activities drained you, and which energized you?

5. Think in Opposites

Use that negativity bias to help identify your strengths. If it’s easier for you to identify your ‘weaknesses’ or challenges, consider the opposite qualities.

If you feel disorganized, a strength may be that you’re an ‘out of the box’ or creative thinker. If you’re drained in social settings, a strength may be an ability to accomplish things independently.

6. Consult online tools to start your brainstorming process

Review online lists of personal strengths, personality traits, abilities, and work skills. Consider which qualities describe you.

Utilize free online strengths finders. Sometimes answering others’ questions is the best way to start helping us think about our strengths. See if some of the questions spark ideas of your skills. When you get the results reflect on why you agree or disagree about each trait. Use these lists/quizzes as starting points to dig in and discover your most authentic strengths.

Congratulations! You have now started your investigation, and have an invaluable tool to help guide your future planning. Continue listening, reflecting, and researching. Your strengths will evolve, and it’s important to stay tuned into just how incredibly strong your unique brain is!


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