Skip Angel, over at Random Thoughts, poses this thought-provoking entry: "Measurable Progress Toward Excellence"
"A strength is defined as a pattern of behavior, thoughts, and feelings that produces high satisfaction and pride; generates mental and/or financial reward; and presents measurable progress toward excellence."
Listen For Yearnings: Like an internal magnet, yearnings pull us toward one thing (strength) instead of another, beginning in early childhood and continuing throughout life. One's life work often begins in yearnings from childhood. Friendly advice can derail us from our strengths when we confuse it for a yearning.
Watch For Satisfactions: Great emotional and mental rewards come from activities we "get a kick out of doing." Satisfactions are not fleeting pleasures, but form our intrinsic motivation. Both satisfactions and yearnings cluster around strengths. Competencies and satisfactions don't always align. If it doesn't feel good, it's probably not a strength.
Watch For Rapid Learning: If you catch on to something quickly, you're probably good at it, and will say, "I feel like I've always known how to do this." A strength is always characterized by initial rapid learning that continues throughout one's lifetime.
Glimpses of Excellence: We see signs of strength in glimpses of excellence within a performance, such as singing a song, writing a letter, giving a speech. A performance is a series of "moments" which provide clues to greatness.
Total Performance For Excellence: The behavior flows and there are no conscious steps in the mind of the performer. The performer is acting on automatic -- time has stopped. Total performance is much more than a glimpse; it is the complete extension of an activity. It happens consistently, and is repeatable.
BOTTOMLINE: Measurable Progress Toward Excellence is a series of activities that are systematic, cyclical, consistent and repeatable.