When was the last time you really felt ‘in the zone’ at work? When you felt energised and engaged, stretched and challenged, hours passed like minutes, you were living life with purpose and you could taste achievement or success? Well the chances are that whatever was going on, at work, study or play, you were using your strengths!

So when was it? Today? Yesterday? Last week? Last month? Last year…?

If you haven’t felt like this in a while maybe you are not working to your strengths at the moment. Maybe they are unrealised, lying dormant and waiting to be ignited?

We know that working to our strengths is good for us and has a direct impact on our overall well-being, resilience and performance and strengths-based approaches are increasingly informing social, economic and business policy.

A raft of recent research tells us that when we work to our strengths we are happier and more confident; more engaged and productive at work or study; more successful in striving towards and reaching our goals; have less time off sick because we are also physically and mentally healthier and are less likely to suffer from anxiety, stress and depression (Linley, Willars & Biswas-Diener, 2010).

But the truth is many people find it hard to identify their strengths. We often don’t know how to recognise our real strengths and even when we do, we take them for granted with the risk of underplaying or even overplaying them.

More commonly, rather than actively develop and nurture our strengths, we focus solely on working on our ‘development’ areas or weaknesses. These ‘learned behaviours’ can be dangerous in that we learn to do things very well that are not necessarily a natural fit for us. Then despite being identified and often rewarded for being good or even excellent at these things, we find ourselves de-energised, de-motivated, disengaged and at risk of ill-health and even burn out. How many of us know bright students studying courses they don’t really like or people seemingly ‘doing well’ in job roles that in reality drain them?

Of course we all have to do things that aren’t natural to us and that we may not particularly like. But the key point is that when we find new ways to work to and optimise our real strengths we are much more resilient and far better equipped to deal with the ‘tough stuff’!

The Realise2 from the Centre of Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP) in the UK is a validated strengths assessment tool that has been designed to help you to identify and marshal your realised strengths, maximise your unrealised strengths you didn’t even realise you had, moderate your use of learned behaviours and minimise your weaknesses.

It’s a great foundation upon which to help individuals, teams and organisations get feedback about job search and recruitment plans, career development, performance management and leadership development. I will be sharing examples of my use of the R2 in government and corporate workplaces, universities and schools at the European Positive Psychology Conference in The Netherlands in July.

So find out if you have some Unrealised Strengths to maximise! If you would like to incorporate the tool within a short series of coaching sessions or if you would like to discuss how it could be incorporated in to a team building event or performance management program, please contact me for more details.

Ref: Linley, A., Willars J. & Biswas-Diener, R. (2010). The Strengths Book. CAPP Press. UK