We all want to spend time on what fulfils us. We all want to be successful.
It stands to reason that is we spend our time in areas that we’re naturally good at, this increases our chances of being fulfilled and successful in what we do.
The trouble is, most of us don’t know what we’re best at.
If someone asked you what you’re best at, would you be able to confidently articulate it?
We live in a world where we are told by society what kind of work we should be doing to be accepted, and we get jobs accordingly. But is this in line with our natural skills?
I know because I’ve struggled with it.
People are unsure
I believe most people are unsure what they’re meant to be doing in life. Most people do not know what their true strengths are.
This can leave them feeling lost, unfulfilled and looking to the outside world for approval.
In this post, I’ll share three ways to help you uncover what your strengths are. This is useful for working in a role that fulfils you, choosing careers and defining your Personal Brand.
Whether you feel have already a good sense of your strengths already, or you feel completely lost, I promise that doing these will help give you further clarity.
You can then decide if this is aligned with how you’re currently spending your time day to day.
1) Spot Trends
‘There are patterns of success and patterns of failure. The good news is success leaves clues’ – Tony Robbins
You’ve achieved some amazing things in life so far.
Many that took perseverance, grit, and sacrifice.
How many times have you stopped to properly reflect on these achievements?
I think it’s crazy that we live our life killing ourselves achieve goal after goal, yet we have not taken 10 minutes in our lifetime to reflect on these very things we work hard to achieve?
We’re too busy moving on to the next thing.
Not anymore. From today, this is going to change. Life leaves clues. And it’s in these clues that we can spot trends that are our natural strengths.
As Steve Jobs says, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, just back. Well, let’s start connecting some of these dots.
Take out a sheet of paper, and write the 5 – 10 accomplishments you’re most proud of in your life
Maybe it’s in work, maybe something you did personally, or something connected with others
For example one of my biggest accomplishments was learning how to swim: I never learned properly as a child. I tried having lessons but the instructor told me I was a ‘sinker’. Then three years ago I decided I was going to change this and I committed to learning. I did and I completed an Olympic triathlon with a 1.5km open water swim that year.
So learning how to swim is one of mine.
When you’ve written yours, take a moment to consider what trends run through these
Share: Share your accomplishments you’re most proud of in the comments below (mine are already there)
Bonus tip: I keep my top 10 achievements in a note on my phone so I can review if I’m feeling low, or about to go into a big meeting I need confidence for. It reminds me that I’ve overcome bigger stuff than this before
2) Strengths Finder
People are complex, so don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t figured yourself out yet. Luckily people have written books to help us.
One I like is called Strengths Finder. It’s easy to understand, reasonably priced and you can download on your Kindle/buy on amazon now.
It’s a book that helps you find what you’re good at.
First, it takes you through a 30-minute online test. Then you are sent a personalised report that details what your natural strengths are, what jobs you’re suited to, how you work well with people, and what activities you should probably avoid (or delegate).
It’s not a definite guide to ‘you’, but another piece of the jigsaw that helps.
Share: Post your results in the comments below (I have)
Even with the best introspection, we all have blind spots. Things we take for granted.
I believe we all have a superpower, but commonly we take this superpower for granted. We assume things that come naturally to us, come naturally to others also. This is usually not the case.
Remember the last time someone complimented you for something you did well and you just thought ‘bah, that’s nothing special’?
That could be your superpower.
We’re scared to admit
Sometimes we feel we know a few strengths we have, but we’re too scared to articulate it. This is because it’s the things we care about the most, if we bare our souls, it can get rejected. So we talk about other, safer, things.
How to Ask
The best way to spot these blind spots and things we may not see, or are too scared to articulate, is to ask people close to us. Here’s how:
Step 1: Decide who to ask
Find 6 – 10 people that you know that you’re going to ask, write them down in your notebook or in an Evernote file
The mixed martial arts pioneer and multi-title champion Frank Shamrock has a system he trains fighters in that he calls plus, minus, and equal. Each fighter, to become great, he said, needs to have someone better they can learn from, someone lesser they can learn from and someone equal they can challenge themselves against.
The purpose of Shamrock’s formula is simple: to get real and continuous feedback from what they know and don’t know from every possible angle.
I recommend you use this Shamrock’s principle when deciding who to ask. Here’s how I applied this to mine:
Plus: My investors / mentors
Minus: Founders of startups that I advise / mentor
Equal: Friends, Peers, work colleagues
Step 2: Prep the questions
Prepare the questions. The questions I would recommend you ask are these:
- List 5 adjectives you would use to describe me
- What are the top 3 skills you think I possess?
- What three things do you consider me to be ‘an expert’ on?
- If I needed ______ I would call [insert your name]
- [Insert your name] is fantastic at ______, although I doubt he/she realises it or acknowledges it
- Someday [insert your name] will be known for__________
Feel free to add to these, but recommend you keep the survey as short as possible.
Step 3: Create a Survey
Create a simple survey to put these questions into. I prefer this than putting in email as all the info will be collected in one place for you, and it’s easier for people to answer.
I like Typeform for surveys. They look great on mobile and desktop. The free version if perfect for what we’re doing here.
Here’s the exact Typeform I used when creating this. Feel free to copy this for your own use.
Check out my survey
Step 4: Make the Ask
Send the survey to the 6 – 10 people you highlighted in step 1. You probably know these people well, so I don’t think you need to make the email formal. Keep it relaxed and conversational.
Here’s the exact email I wrote when I sent mine. It resulted in a 100% survey completion rate.
Subject: Quick favour
I’m doing some work on my personal brand, mind helping me out by answering 7 quick questions about me?
One favour, please answer the questions seriously i.e. don’t say ‘HOWARD’S A BIG KNOB’ 😉
Will really help.
Here are the questions
(again, feel free to copy this for your own use)
Step 5: Review the Results
Give it a day or two, and then review the results. Typeform allows you to print out all the results together or view on the screen.
Flick through the results and take some notes of what words keep coming up, things surprise you, and things that fit with what you already believe what your strengths are.
Here’re my results printed out, I took notes of the trends written up on them.
Follow the steps listed above to Ask 6 – 10 people about your Strengths.
Share: Share you findings in the comments below
Bring it all together
After doing these three steps, you should have some themes that run through your successes, strength finder’s report and what your friends say.
Finish the follow sentence:
Based on the work I’ve just done, my top 3 strengths are:
At the start of the piece, we discussed that many people are not sure what they’re best at. We discussed a 3 step method to finding your passions.
Many people don’t know their strengths. Many think they do, but if you ask them what they are won’t be able to articulate.
Knowing your strengths is important in living a successful life, however, I believe it’s only half the answer. To be fully aligned you must also do work that you love, and are passionate about. Otherwise, you will be misaligned. This is something I’ll discuss further in future posts
What are you strengths? Take action & answer the questions in the comments below