That’s a question we all want to know about ourselves. How aware are you of your strengths? Do you tend to focus on what you are not good at first?
When I was at Secondary school, I discovered strengths I didn’t realise I had. My teacher invited me to represent our school at the School’s debating championship, I spent 10 months training with the team before that. After working together with the team and teacher for a few months, I was nominated to be the third speaker. I was curious why they put me in that position so I asked. Here’s what my teacher told me,
“You’re not afraid of confrontation. At the same time, you can see the bigger picture and provide the right direction to the team towards results.” Since then, I reckoned that I had an ability that others might not have at the time, and it meant I had something of value to offer. (Unfortunately, we didn’t win at the championship.)
If you’re thinking about your personal or career development, identifying your strengths and weaknesses isn’t about making you feel good or bad about yourself. It’s a process that will allow you to understand how you can be most effective at what you do, and where you’ll need to improve if you want to be more successful. In this article, we will walk you through a five-step process to help you discover your strengths.
1) Create two lists – Strengths and Weaknesses
You don’t need to have a comprehensive list of 100 strengths and weaknesses. If you’ve included more than 10-15 items, then you’re probably starting to focus too much on strengths and weaknesses that aren’t that significant.
Examples of what you might add to this list range from aspects of your character, like “calm under pressure” or “achievement-driven,” or technical skills you pursue, such as “UI/UX expertise” or “project management experience.”
The purpose of this list will be to start off with some general ideas that you have about yourself and then get input from other sources to help you refine your list.
2) Honest feedback
The problem with using a list of strengths and weaknesses that only you’ve completed is that you have a biased opinion of yourself. Most people think too highly of themselves, or too little of themselves. Try to think of three to five people whose opinions you trust, and who have had the chance to live or work with you for an extended period. You want to include a broader list of people who have observed your behaviour and character in several different situations. Invite them out for coffee, or simply send them an email with some questions and ask for their honest feedback. As you receive feedback, you could refine your list.
3) Leverage Assessment
In addition to spending time thinking and gathering insights from others, reputable assessments like DISC is another useful resource to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses.
4) Try something new
One problem with identifying strengths and weaknesses comes is a lack of experience. In some cases, you might look at your list of weaknesses and notice that it mostly boils down to “I don’t know, I’ve never tried.”
For instance, how would you know if you have an athletic or artistic ability if you’ve never tried either? I am a believer in pushing yourself to grow by doing things you’ve never done before. Simply trying something new doesn’t mean you’ll automatically identify it as a strength or weakness. You’ll need to be alert when starting something new, and I highly recommend you take some time afterwards to process the new experience you just had.
Now that you’ve spent some time identifying your strengths and weaknesses, you can evaluate which ones need your additional attention. Some of your strengths represent the absolute best you have to offer right now. Other strengths may need to be further developed before they can be used to their fullest potential. Finally, some strengths likely won’t be integral to your success at all.
In your “weaknesses” column, some weaknesses will be glaring. You will need to address them and improve upon them before you’ll be able to succeed. Other weaknesses, like some of your strengths, may simply be irrelevant to your overall objectives. Finally, some weaknesses may be important, but now might not be the best time to overcome them.
I wish that you have found these tips useful as you identify your weaknesses and strengths. I would love to hear about a time when you discovered a strength you didn’t know you had, or when you identified a weakness and worked to overcome it.
Our team of coaches are happy to give you insights through a 1-1 coaching session. If you believe this process might be a little complex, the DISC assessment just takes you 7 minutes. It would be a fast track to help you find your hidden strengths too.