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One of the biggest steps you can take in your career is identifying your strengths and what you enjoy, and then doing more of it. It might sound redundantly simple, but that’s because it is. A lot of people struggle to do this though, and the result is massive unrealised potential and very unhappy segments of the workforce.
But that’s not you, you’re self-aware and really trying to hone in on what you excel at. But perhaps you need some help focusing, guidance or a framework to approach this with. Scan down the Google results for ‘how to identify your strengths’ and you will quickly see things veer into the category of fluff or pop psychology.
You’ll find none of that here. Instead, we’ve cobbled together a few practical and actionable ideas to help you. This is also meant to piggyback on some of the exercises from module one, so keep those in mind. In the words of entrepreneur and speaker, Gary Vaynerchuk, ‘stop doing **** you hate. Nail down your strengths so you can discover your passion.’
Do market research
Make a list of five or ten people who you’re close with and who know you well. Run down the list and ask each of them to tell you what you’re best and worst at doing. By asking people who love you this question and by using the right approach, you ensure a degree of honesty in the feedback. This is what you want. We often can’t see our own shining lights or blind spots, so rely on others to give you the nudge.
Be as even-handed in your self-evaluation as you can
Everyone has a number of different skills that lead to their successes in life. Don’t fixate on yours, but also don’t ignore them. For example, you may be a great lawyer but have no passion for the law. Stop and consider what underlying skills or strengths might be useful in another context. Maybe you’ve been blind to one of your greatest strengths because you think of it as a ‘legal’ skill. You might be a great writer or have a brilliant analytical mind that can be applied some other way. In short, your potential doesn’t end with one strength.
Read everything and review history carefully
The next step is to go on vacation, but not the kind of vacation that you’re probably thinking of. What you need to do is set aside a big chunk of time (at least a few days). In the time allotted, compile or retrieve every piece of feedback you’ve ever received from bosses, friends, coworkers, teachers – you name it. If there isn’t much to be found, create a chronology on paper and work backward relying on your memory. While time-intensive, this process could help you uncover clues you missed or see patterns invisible before. If you’re serious about truly finding your strengths, this task is worth the time.
Cast an even wider feedback net
Ask strangers or acquaintances for their opinions. Use social media to make a post asking everyone who follows you the very question we have been repeating over and over: ‘What are my personal strengths?’ You can frame this question in whatever way makes the most sense to your audience. You’ve now tapped into the biggest pool of potential data possible. Whether people know you in real life or through your online persona, you’ll be able to glean additional helpful information.
If you do these four things, you’ll have more than enough information to help you identify your strengths. This is where things get exciting because what you do with this information can take you in an infinite number of directions. Curious but feeling in need of a bit more guidance? Check this out.
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