Most of us want to change and improve ourselves for the better, but we often don’t know where or how to start. For many people, it can be difficult to write down what we're good at without feeling a little foolish or awkward. But in order to become your best self, it is vital to learn how to accept yourself completely, which includes being aware of what makes you great.
How to identify your strengths
If you are new to the process of self-discovery, you may find it hard to know how to identify all your strengths. Sure, you could probably name a handful of positive attributes easily, but after that, things can get murky.
I always find this process daunting, especially if I've set aside time to really think about what my strengths are. It seems that every time I get out the pen and paper, all my thoughts disappear and I'm left wondering if I'm actually good at anything! The key is to not put so much pressure on yourself. The list is ever evolving as we grow and learn, so be kind to yourself and try to think about the things you enjoy personally, as this often translates to your professional life too. These questions might help you get started:
What are you passionate about?
What do you feel are your best achievements?
What do you believe you can do better than others around you?
What are your natural skills and talents?
Once you start writing, your answers will probably trigger other related thoughts and positive memories. Write those down too.
Reflective Best Self Exercise (RBSE)
In addition, you could use a tool like the Reflective Best Self (RBSE)TM exercise to send to colleagues, family and past employers and get them to tell you what they believe to be your strengths. The tool outlines a few simple questions to use as a type of survey. Your questions could include:
What do you believe to be my talents and strengths?
In what circumstances have you seen me most passionate, engaged and motivated?
In what career paths do you believe me to have the greatest potential?
Can you describe any situations when you have seen me performing to my best? What characteristics did you observe at that time?
Look for patterns in the answers others give you. They may offer valuable insight and even highlight strengths you weren’t aware of.
Be your own coach
Professional sports players are always telling us how they won by ‘playing their own game’ and ‘following their coaching plan’.
A successful player will always know what their strengths are and constantly work on improving them so that they become an invaluable asset. For example, tennis great, Rafael Nadal is not only known for his outstanding mental strength but he also capitalised on the fact that he plays left-handed. His left arm is visibly much bigger and stronger than his right. It is his point of difference.
If you think of your life in sports terms, what would your inner coach be telling you? What can you work on to help you gain that extra 1% advantage? Set yourself challenges and keep aiming to beat your personal best. For many years, Roger Federer was the No 1 tennis player in the world. Did he stop training? No. He kept pushing his own boundaries as he knew the day would come when others like Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic would start challenging him regularly. When they did, he kept striving to raise the bar higher again.
Getting the best return on your investment.
When you consider personal development as an investment in your future, it is important to choose the actions that will lead you to the greatest rewards. Focusing on your strengths is a vital part of that development. Your strengths give you the freedom to explore change. Are you willing to take that step?
Call to action…
For more valuable tips on how to capitalise on your strengths, head to The Mentor List, where you’ll find an inspirational podcast interview with Sanjay Khushu. Sanjay is the Group Financial Controller of Telstra and a passionate mentor who believes strongly in active leadership.
Kick start your personal journey to success from the conversations David has with his inspirational guests on The Mentor List. www.mentorlist.com.au
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