There’s a time and place for well-rounded feedback on our strengths and weaknesses. Especially when we’re stuck, or not achieving the results we want, balanced advice from colleagues or friends can be exactly what we need to move forward.
But there’s also a time for reflection on only our strengths, or what we do best.
Why . . . Isn’t that a little pollyanna? It could be, but capitalizing on our strengths is a way to maximize our value and success in life. I’m not original in this idea but it makes sense right?
For example, I’ll never be a great accountant, long-distance runner, or historian. I might always get confused about which direction to drive without a GPS or map. These skill sets simply aren’t my strengths. I can work toward improvement, but I’ll never, ever write a great field guide or be a CFO. And I’m okay with that.
The question is this: What am I best at?
I have an assignment to help figure it out. It’s this: Ask a handful of people who know you well to share the 3-5 things you do best. They don’t have to write a thesis, or think about it for hours. Often, they’ll be able to rattle off a short-list of your strengths pretty easily.
I asked this question of several of my colleagues and friends a few months ago. Here’s some of what they said:
Word smithing. “Say this, not that.”
Leading productive meetings.
Weighing risk, and taking the appropriate amount of risk.
Recognizing an individual’s strengths, and helping each person work toward theirs.
Modeling effective communication and making the workplace feel like a safe and open place.
Empowering, motivating, being kind, thoughtful and attentive.
Allowing autonomy, but guiding and supporting.
Celebrating individual successes. Making people feel appreciated and seen.
Pretty great, right? Even when we know our strengths, having someone reflect them back to us feels amazing. It helps us take a step back and appreciate the bigger picture. (And, to be honest, sometimes I feel like my meetings are a total disaster so it’s nice to know that sometimes I get it right.)
A few tips if you choose to ask for feedback on your strengths:
Pick people you trust and who may have some insight. This is very important. Your circle of trust should be small and intimate. You want to know that their feedback is given out of love, and not a hidden agenda.
Sometimes family members do not appreciate these kinds of conversations. (I might have learned this from experience.) Timing is everything. If your family is too busy thinking about the menu for Christmas dinner, or deciding who is driving to the party on New Year’s Eve, I’ve learned it’s best to let the conversation go.
Write what your sources say in a notebook. Keep it. You’ll want to reflect back, and the insight can continue to grow and expand as you give it deeper consideration.
One of my mantras is, “life moves in the direction of our primary conversations,” I want to suggest that the question, “What am I best at?” can be a fun, enlightening conversation topic, and it’s not politics. :)
It’s a way to help stimulate your creativity and next steps, and guaranteed you will be pleasantly surprised at what those who love you, see in you.
I’m Stephanie. I’m a writer, coach, and facilitator. I work with individuals, teams and leaders in creative, entrepreneurial, and nonprofit fields to improve communication, find a true purpose, and deepen connection and meaning. If you enjoyed this post, share it with a friend! And I’d love it if you would subscribe to my email list, below.