It’s natural for some people to focus on their weaknesses. For instance, I’m thinking about my procrastination, and how I fell short of my goal to keep this blog up-to-date. Performance appraisals, a culture of continuous self-improvement, or a tendency toward perfectionism may reinforce the yearning to be better at our jobs, relationships, and life. I would not be in business without clients who want to be better communicators, and many people are motivated by their faults. However, I coach people through identifying what they do well, first.
It’s important to know and use your talents. I force – or gently persuade – new clients to tell me about successes, wins, accomplishments, or a time when they felt good about work. I see a lot of squirming and hesitancy. People don’t want to brag, or they’ve never given it much thought. If you’re unaware of your strengths, it may be helpful to answer one or more of these questions:
- Describe a time when you felt satisfied, fulfilled, or enthusiastic about your current job. What, specifically, was happening that led to your positive feelings?
- What interactions or activities make you feel good, renewed, or inspired at work? What do you find most rewarding about your work?
- What attracted you to this organization and to your current role(s)? Describe why you decided to take this job, and what you like the most about your organization.
- Without being modest, list what you are proud of accomplishing in your job. List what makes you good at what you do (it’s time to brag a little)! What are you doing when you are “in the zone” or feeling high about work?
If you’re like me, you may need visible reminders of who you are at your best, to get through less exciting times at work, or to balance anxiety about not measuring up. Greater self-awareness requires seeing the total picture of who you are as a human being: a complex mix of strengths and weaknesses. It’s helpful to record strengths or “wins” at work on a regular basis, so you’re armed with positive evidence for performance reviews, or when you’re temporarily plagued with self doubt!