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April 2013
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What Darwin Teaches Us About Strengths and Career Planning

Posted by: Emma Trenier


Depending upon the season, there can be as many as 58 distinct species of birds inhabiting the Galapagos Islands. During his voyage on the Beagle, Charles Darwin puzzled over how so many different types of finches could not only survive together, but thrive on the island food chain. The conclusion he described years later was ‘variation and differentiation’.


In essence, variation and differentiation are at the heart of adaptability. For the Galapagos finches, they are the means by which so many different birds make a place for themselves and survive.


As we seek to carve out the niches of our own careers, we are more adaptable to changing environments when we are able to do the same. As we present ourselves in ways that differentiate us from others, we are more likely to adapt and find a unique space within our ever changing environments.


One of the most effective ways to do this is through showcasing and harnessing the unique combination and profile of our strengths.


As Greater London Authority (GLA) employees come out the other side of the Olympic Games, many have been educating themselves to identify the skills and strengths that they have gained through this life changing experience. Most importantly, they have been articulating how their strengths differentiate them, enabling them to make their greatest contribution at GLA.


Organisations that enable employees to develop their careers by identifying their strengths help them in turn to recognise where they can make their greatest contributions. As a result, they prevent the most talented from being attracted by bright and shiny opportunities elsewhere, because they have found their niche in the food chain of their existing organisation. They also build a culture which allows growth and adaptability to blossom – like the Galapagos Islands.


Through celebrating then harnessing the different strengths profiles of your employees, enabling them to deliver their best performances through using their strengths, you create a fertile organisational ecology that allows everyone to flourish. Just as Darwin found 180 years ago, differentiation leads to maximization.


Explore what your own unique strengths profile through the 60 strengths of Realise2, and see what you can do to differentiate yourself with your strengths.


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