We all have natural talents and abilities, but it can be hard to recognize and articulate just what they are.
Instead, most people tend to focus on their weaknesses. That may be a natural compulsion, but wouldn’t it make more sense to lean into your strengths instead of constantly get hung up on your weaknesses?
Imagine you’re sitting in a parent-teacher conference and the teacher tells you your child is excelling in English but struggling in math. Immediately, your mind probably starts thinking about how to help your child in improve at math. Sure, everyone needs a certain level of mathematical competency, but it’s all too easy to overemphasize compensating for weaknesses. As a result, your child could miss out on fully investing in their area of excellence — in this case, English.
Think about your last performance review. How much of the conversation was focused on what you do well, and how much was focused on your areas for improvement?
Understanding and using your strengths can help you gain clarity in regard to your career path, interview with more confidence, and improve your results at work. Some employers are trying to shift to more strengths-based understandings of performance, but even if your organization is not one of them, there is a lot you can do to ensure you approach your work from a place of strength.
To start taking a strengths-based approach to your own career, follow these steps:
1. Identify Your Strengths
You may have a general sense of your areas of expertise, but the more specific you can be about them, the better. Ask yourself these questions :
- What am I great at?
- When I’m working, what gives me the most joy?
- When was the last time I was firing on all cylinders? What talents and strengths did I utilize?
It should be noted that your strengths are different from your hard skills. Coding is a skill, but your strengths would be things like creativity, strategic thinking, and communication.
2. Embrace Your Strengths
Thanks to social media, it has never been easier to compare ourselves to others. However, envying the talents of others is never productive. It’s critical to understand that lacking a certain strength doesn’t mean you can’t achieve the same things as a person who has that strength; it only means you will arrive at the destination via an alternate route.
Your strengths are unique to you. Moreover, if you do share strengths with someone, yours will likely manifest in ways that no one else’s do. According to Gallup, the likelihood of your top strengths exactly matching someone else’s strengths is one in 33.4 million! That’s pretty unique, if you ask me.
Focus on being you, because you’re awesome.
3. Maximize Your Strengths
Once you’ve identified and embraced your strengths, you’re ready to fly. These are your unique talents; exercising and expressing them will help you shine. Take every opportunity to use your strengths in your endeavors. When facing a problem, trust that your unique strengths will lead you to the solution. The more you learn to trust your strengths and utilize them on a daily basis, the stronger they — and by extension, you — will become.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.
Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing‘s resident career expert.