Know Thyself

From Knowing to Doing

The ancient Greek principle of “Know Thyself” is only significant as long as you actually use the knowledge you gain about yourself. Knowing your strengths but not putting them to use is like owning a car but not knowing how to drive.

Research indicates that simply having knowledge about your strengths, otherwise known as strength-knowledge, alone does not significantly predict well-being (Govindji & Linley, 2007). However, strength-knowledge and strength-use together are associated with higher subjective well-being, psychological well-being, and subjective vitality. In essence, those who are in touch with their strengths and use their strengths tend to experience greater well-being. This research provides support for the understanding that people have an internal drive to use their strengths, and when they do, they experience authenticity, vitality, and well-being.

So, how can these findings impact individual and organizational performance? Researchers recently found that strength-use is also associated with goal progress (Linley, Nielsen, Gillettt & Biswas-Diener, 2010). When individuals utilize their strengths in developing goals, their psychological needs are fulfilled through progress towards goals. Furthermore, when using their strengths, people feel these goals to be more aligned with self-growth and autonomy.

Organizations can utilize a strength-based approach to increase job satisfaction in employees, which can lead to experiencing pleasure, engagement and meaning fostered by one’s job (Harzer & Ruch, 2013). Additionally, job satisfaction and engagement are associated with components of job performance, including job efficiency and job effectiveness (Judge, Thoresen, Bono, & Patton, 2001).

Whether you’re an entrepreneur handling your own creative direction or a manager developing leadership skills to move up in an organization, knowing your strengths is just the first step. What’s more important is to practice your strengths in the pursuit of your goals by putting them to use and taking the initiative to optimize your performance.

Where to begin?

1. Take a formal strengths assessment (Gallup Strengths or VIA strengths are a few choices) or utilize informal self-reflection questioning (stay updated with our blog for additional resources).

2. Focus your attention on developing one specific strength at a time.

3.  Create goals that require your strength to be put to action. Set the goals within the SMART goal framework (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) to achieve maximum performance (Doran, 1981).

4. Consider working with a leadership coach to better understand strengths and how to integrate them into your life.



Doran, G. T. (1981). There’s a SMART way to write management’s goals and objectives. Management review, 70(11), 35-36.

Govindji, R., & Linley, P. A. (2007). Strengths use, self-concordance and well-being:         Implications for strengths coaching and coaching psychologists. International Coaching Psychology Review2(2), 143-153.

Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2013). The application of signature character strengths and positive experiences at work. Journal of Happiness Studies14(3), 965-983.

Judge, T. A., Thoresen, C. J., Bono, J. E., & Patton, G. K. (2001). The job satisfaction–job performance relationship: A qualitative and quantitative review. Psychological bulletin127(3), 376.

Linley, P. A., Nielsen, K. M., Gillett, R., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2010). Using signature strengths in pursuit of goals: Effects on goal progress, need satisfaction, and well-being, and implications for coaching psychologists. International Coaching Psychology Review5(1), 6-15.

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