Have you ever had someone ask you what you’re good at, and you go immediately blank?
It’s tough, especially for younger professionals, to articulate our strengths because we often don’t take time to acknowledge them. And, if you’re still struggling to find our strengths, you might begin to wonder if you’re even good at anything… which makes it impossible for you to gain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
There are many benefits to knowing your strengths. The most important in my eyes is that playing to your strengths allows you to stand out as a high performer in your organization and puts you on a fast track to promotions.
Playing to your strengths allows you shine brightly in your organization — no matter your industry or level. So, I’ve outlined three strategies to help you find your strengths and fast track your career.
Strategy One: Ask Your Friends
By far the quickest way of finding your strengths is by asking those who know you best — your friends, family, coworkers, supervisor, etc.
You can do this as an in-person conversation, email, or text. And, it can be as easy as asking, “Hey, I’m trying to get a better handle on my strengths. What would you say are my top three strengths?”
This strategy works great because often our family and friends will be able to articulate our strengths better to us than we can articulate them ourselves.
When you ask others to provide your strengths, be sure to find people who have interacted with you in a working capacity. While your mother may remind you how great of a driver you are, that might not be helpful in your 9–5.
Once you get relevant responses, you’ll be able to apply those strengths to your day-to-day and stand out as a superstar in your organization!
Strategy Two: Take a Professional Assessment
A more formal approach to finding your strengths is through a professional assessment. Every organization has a set of preferred assessments that employees can take, but the most common that I’ve seen is the CliftonStrengths (https://www.gallup.com/cliftonstrengths/en/252137/home.aspx).
While CliftonStrengths is the most common, there are plenty more tests (both paid and unpaid) that you can take online. A quick Google search can provide you with some good options.
The benefit of taking a more formal assessment like these is that most tests are psychologically grounded and offer deeper insights into your behavior. Most paid tests offer take the assessment one step further and provide you with actionable steps to improve your strengths and apply them to various situations.
If you’re leading a team, it might be a good idea to ask your team to complete a strengths inventory. As you begin looking across your team, you will begin to see trends and gaps. For example, the team inventory I did with my team shows that we have a gap in “Executing” strengths, which we can address as we begin hiring Team Member F.
Strategy Three: Find What Excites You
Lastly, if you’re an introvert, you can always try meditation as a method of finding your strengths.
Spend 30 seconds or a minute meditating on what types of things excite you — collaborating with others, being creative, etc. Make a list of 50 or so items. As you make the list, start to see which tasks excite you most.
Once the list is made and you begin reviewing it, look for commonalities among the items. For example, are all the related items connected to business strategy? Do you get excited about projects that involve your analytical thinking? Are the projects you’re drawn to more creative in nature?
You will begin to see common threads in the projects that excite you.
Typically, projects that are “natural” and “exciting” to you are projects that you’re inherently good at. If you’re successful in doing those projects, that’s even more validation that you’re strong in those areas.