I’ve been reflecting this week on my strengths, because I know that if I don’t feed my strengths on a regular basis, it is very easy to start getting flat and frustrated.
In my ten steps to work life awesomeness… step #4 is Knowing Your Strengths….and it is easier said than done.
I’m pretty good at identifying my weaknesses, most of us are. But knowing your strengths takes a bit more reflection. I always find it a bit of fun to do personality tests, or there is the VIA Strengths test which I also love. These tools can help you to put into perspective which things make you feel great, put you in your ultimate flow. But you don’t really have to do any special tests, if you sit down and write a list of all the things that you enjoy, or think about what your favourite project/role at work has been so far, what were the elements that you have enjoyed? that will give you a good guiding sense of things that are your strengths. Or, you could ask your friends and family (I’ve done this recently and was surprised how uncomfortable it was to ask, I was so embarrassed but boy was it interesting getting perspectives from people who really know me). There may be things that you don’t consider yourself to be “good at” (possibly because you are super hard on yourself), but they can still be your strengths if you enjoy doing them or wish you could do more of it.
Knowing my own strengths was a massive turning point for me. I spent a lot of time at work focusing on trying to “fix” the things I wasn’t very good at, like talking too much in meetings, instead of thinking about how I could do more of the things I was good at.
I know that one of my strengths is being very much a people person. I love having fun, laughter and friends. Yes, I love talking! Which also means I love being part of a team at work, I especially like leading a team (that is two of my strengths merged into one…leadership and team work…BONUS!).
Which means working remotely is actually quite hard for me. The flexibility of my job role is awesome, and I love that it means the focus is all on the work that I do, not the fact that I am sitting at a desk 9-5pm. But sitting home alone drains my energy like a car battery when you leave the light on.
So, being conscious of this, and knowing that being a “people person” is one of my strengths but it isn’t naturally in my day to day role…I have to make a conscious effort each day to ensure I get my teaming fix…to plug in, and charge up! I volunteer for projects that require me to connect with others, even if it is just on the phone. I made my weekly teleconference with my team into a video conference on Google Hangouts, so I can see their gorgeous faces. I joined the running club in the office, so I would be “forced” into the office once a week to take a run with some colleagues. I organised to pop over to my parents house for an afternoon cuppa between meetings. And all those things help to keep the fire in my belly, despite my role perhaps not being the perfect role for a “people” person like me.
Which is why it is so important to know what your strengths are. And to realise that just because you love to cook, or you love to nurture people…doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel on whatever job you are doing now, and run away to be a Chef or work in a nursing home. But to be able to think about how you can bring your strengths to the table today, how you can squeeze more of them into your everyday. And you’ll be surprised how many opportunities you will find.
Do you know what your super powers are and do you practice them every day?