Here’s a question I want you to answer honestly… [pause for dramatic effect]… who are you?
Yes, I know. It’s a trickier a question than you think. I’m not asking for your name, age, address etc. These aspects are about you… they’re interesting, yes, but they don’t paint a picture of who you are.
Who you are is your personal profile of interests, beliefs, knowledge, strengths, and experiences. Others may be like you, but there’s only one version of you. Only you are uniquely you.
Why am I bringing this to your attention? Good question. Yes, I want you to feel good about yourself, but I also want you to start thinking differently about the value you bring to any workplace, team, or business.
Because my friend, you are exceptional and valuable. And I want you to stop trying to right-size yourself to fit your environment and start leveraging your unique value instead.
Turning your personal strengths to your maximum advantage
We all have strengths and weaknesses but for some reason we humans are quick to point out where we lack and not so great at turning a spotlight on what we’re really good at.
Think back to almost every job interview you’ve had. I bet you, like me, were dreading the ubiquitous “what are your strengths?” question. And your answers were probably a list of your skills and talents… “I’m a numbers person” or “I can communicate at all levels” or “I provide excellent customer service”.
Skills and talents are “what” you do. They can be learnt and improved with experience. They’re not innately “who” you are.
Who you are, your unique profile, is found at the nexus of what you’re good at, what you enjoy doing, and what others value.
When you just list your skills you allow for a straightforward comparison with those who have similar skills. Digging deeper to uncover your true personal value is exponentially harder. And the reason it’s hard is because your strengths tend to be “just things you do”… you probably don’t even consider them strengths.
5 ways to identify & leverage your strengths for career success
1. LOOK FOR CLUES
Look for clues in what you hear and observe. What do people constantly turn to you for help with? What do they thank you for? What compliments do you receive? Do you see trends in these? Then turn inwards… what do you enjoy doing for others without even thinking about? What are you the first to volunteer to do in any situation? Once you’re looking for them, you’ll start to notice clues all around you.
2. VALIDATE & CLARIFY
Got some ideas about your personal strengths? Then turn to those whose opinions and views you respect to validate what you’ve uncovered. Ask colleagues you trust, “when you call me to ask a question or get me involved in a project, what makes you seek me out?”, then compare their answers. Do these support your initial thoughts? Or do they provide new or different ideas to consider?
3. DEFINE YOUR PERSONAL STRENGTHS
Once you’re clear on your top 3-5 true strengths, describe and define exactly what they mean. Consider how these strengths show up for you, particularly in a professional context. When have you used them to great success? How do they underpin your role in a workplace or team? What evidence from your current or previous roles showcase the successful application of your strengths?
4. CRAFT YOUR STRENGTH STORIES
For each of your top strengths, create a story about a time when you’ve successfully applied them. Explain the situation, describe what was happening and what you were doing. Make sure to include a “so what”, a result or impact. What happened for you? How did you make someone else feel? Was there a tangible outcome? Was there an “a-ha” moment for you or someone else? The aim is to create individual, personalised stories… engaging stories that are uniquely about you.
5. BOOST YOUR CAREER
Identifying and articulating your unique strengths provides a fantastic boost to your self-esteem. How could it not? There’s nothing better than knowing you’re good at something you enjoy, that others rely on you to provide. Enhancing and playing to your strengths delivers far greater benefits than investing your time and energy on the things you’re not so good at. By applying your strengths you deliver consistently greater outcomes, continuing to highlight and increase your personal value. It’s win, win, win!
Thinking differently about who you are, and your unique value is a game-changer for successfully upgrading or redesigning your career.
One of my superpowers is seeing strengths in others they’re not able to see in themselves. If you need help identifying your unique value, I can show you how to acknowledge your strengths so you can design a career that’s the perfect fit for you. Let’s chat about the right next steps for you.