Exercise: A Plate of Strengths

This exercise has been adapted from one in fellow coach Michael Bungay Stainer’s book Do More Great Work. This exercise offers a quick and insightful way you can process the greatness that is you by breaking it into what you show to the world and what you keep more to yourself. Combined with a strengths tool like the VIA Signiture Strenghts Questionnaire, it’s a powerful self-reflection exercise. Great thing is, you can do it on your own or with your team. If you like the Johari Window concept, you’ll like this.


  • Thin markers
  • Paper plate (not shiny or else the marker will rub off)
  • Optional: results from the VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire or other strengths tool


  1. List on the outside of the plate all the strengths that you show to the world.
  2. Flip the plate over. On the inside, write all the strengths you know you possess but perhaps others may not know about you.
  3. Refer to your VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire or other strengths tool. Record any you have missed either on the inside or outside of your plate.
  4. Reflect:
    1. How visible are your strengths to others? Do you let your best self be known to the world or do you keep most of that do yourself?
    2. How much are you able to leverage your strengths in your current environment/situation?
    3. To what extent do you live into your strengths (or do you downplay them)?
  5. Identify one thing you would like to do as a result of these reflections. Remember, just one next step at a time – that way you’ll know what you can attribute your success to!
  6. Select a place you can keep your plate as a reminder of your strengths. Set an intention to keep recording them as you live into them.

 Let me know how it goes!

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2 thoughts on “Exercise: A Plate of Strengths

  1. I tried this exercise with a group of leaders with resounding success. We didn’t have paper plates so just used paper. To my surprise the group reinforced that they actually saw strengths in each other that they thought no one else saw (i.e. the strengths on the flip side of the paper). People walked away with a renewed sense of validation as well as a closer bond with their colleagues. Thanks Sarah for the great idea.

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