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Identity your strengths
This has been said before, but it can be said again – “work on your strengths and manage your weaknesses (even if it means hiring help in those areas)”
But the question is how does one identify his or her strengths?
Here are a few ways:
If you have your past journals, dust them up and go through them for hints. You record what you care for. Many of your actions that you thought were worth recording might stem from your area of strengths. If you have not journaled, it might be a good idea to start now. Just the act of trying to record something signiﬁcant in a day will make you do something signiﬁcant on that day.
#2. From your notes
Whether you use a journal or not, I am sure you use notebooks to take notes for your work. Go back to your notes for a few years. When it comes to work, you also record what you need to plus “what you care about.” Really, the same logic applies as in #1 above. Between these notes there are hints about your strengths and your interests.
#3. Via your mentors
If you don’t have a mentor, please get one. Mentors have one agenda – to make you better than what you are today, give you more capacity than what you have today. With that in the back of their mind, they are always looking at helping you maximize your strengths. You will be amazed at how quickly they can help you identify your strengths.
#4. Asking people who care
I am sure you are surrounded by people that care for you. Pick the ones that are also “competent” in making assessments about strengths and weaknesses and simply ask them. The “competent” part is important as not all the people that care for you are competent in making such assessments of your capability.
#5. Watch when you are in ﬂow
In simple terms, ﬂow is when you lose track of time doing something. Typically, you are in “ﬂow” when you are engaged in tasks that are leveraging your strengths.
Next time, when you totally lose track of time, stop for a moment and record what exactly you were doing. Keep doing this until you ﬁnd a pattern to give you clues about your strengths. For more on Flow, please read Mihaly Cziksentmihalyi’s book Flow.
#6. Noticing what you notice
In other words, being more aware. Most of the time, we live our life with “blinders on” and forget to notice what we notice and why we notice what we notice.
You notice things based on your interests and those interests are typically based on your strengths and likings. Notice what you notice even for a week and you will start noticing your strengths.
#7. Notice the requests that you get
The world and the marketplace make requests oﬀ you. They make these requests, mostly based on your “competence” to fulﬁll those requests eﬀectively. As an example, if they don’t see you as a “good editor”, they may not come to you with a request to help edit something. If they don’t see you as a good presenter, they may not come to you with a request to help coach them with their next presentation. Take an inventory of requests that you received in the last few weeks and you will start noticing where your strengths are.
Once you know what your strengths are, you have to put your strengths to work to strengthen your opportunities.
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