In October’s column I discussed “signature strengths.” They lead to happiness, but what’s more, they are the ingredients for mastery that pay off handsomely in the course of your career.If you went to www.AuthenticHappiness.com and took the VIA Strength Indicator test, your results showed you 24 possible strengths that you have consciously and unconsciously nurtured over years.

According to psychologists Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson, strengths have some attributes in common, when they’re being used:

  • People typically excel at things they enjoy.
  • They are happier, feel more energy, and even more joy while they’re using, and after they use, their strength.
  • They perform at higher skill levels for longer periods of time.
  • People working with their strengths have a tendency to rapidly learn the skills associated with those strengths.
  • They also tend to want to keep on learning more deeply about their strength or the topic area in which their strength is being used.
  • They become good teachers of the strength, and want to show others how they can benefit from it.
  • Others feel good around a person who is practicing his or her strength. They might actually cheer that person on because he or she is seemingly perfection in motion.

If you have your list of strengths, take a look at the top five. Those are usually the ones that are clues to where you’ll find mastery and happiness. They should be present in your job, and if it’s not possible there, then in your personal/hobby life. Sometimes you have to think creatively about how those strengths show up.

Nurturing excellence

Take, for example the strength that is “the appreciation of beauty and excellence.” On first blush you might think that’s a little soft for a financial advisor. But there are plenty of opportunities to nurture it. It might be admiring the excellence of a co-worker or competitor and using that to inspire you to do better. If “critical thinking” is a strength you can analyze data and interpret the meaning all day long. If the “love of learning” is a strength, attend conferences and then be your office’s teacher on the topic.

There are those strengths that align with specific careers, but then there are those who get imaginative and find ways to bring their strengths to the vocation they’ve chosen. They reignite their passion through their strengths. They profit by being the happy masters in the business.