Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How to discover your job strengths

What do you enjoy doing? What makes you feel energetic? What do you do well? These are no ordinary questions.

Answers to the above questions can lead you to the most precious asset you have for building a successful career: Your strengths.

Why bother about strengths? When you use our strengths, you will enjoy your work and give your best performance. Opposite is also true. Failing to use your own strengths is a recipe for boredom and mediocre performance at work.

You may wonder if you have any strength in the first place. Indeed, when people see a great musician, painter, orator or sportsman perform, they recognize readily his/her strength. But they fail to ask themselves what their own strengths are and quietly assume they have none.

There are three main reasons why people fail to leverage on their own strengths. First, what you are good at comes easily to you. Therefore, you may take it for granted. For example, if your strength lies in, say, leading people, you may find this activity so easy that it may not appear as anything special to you.

Second, your strengths may be such that you may not be able to publicly express them, unlike in the case of a painter or musician. Therefore, no one, including you, recognizes them.

Third, since many people do not recognize their strengths, they fail to develop them. As a result, the strengths remain dormant, like an unpolished diamond.

Here’s how you can spot your own strengths if you don’t already know them:

Pay attention to the activities that give you a feeling of joy or enjoyment. That’s a clue to your strengths.

Do you suddenly feel energized while doing certain activities? If yes, that’s another clue to your strengths.

Look at all your past achievements and see if you can detect a pattern of specific activities. If you can, these particular activities are nothing but expressions of your strengths.

Find out what you excel at consistently. That’s a definite clue to your strengths.

Interestingly, people can identify others’ strengths (and weaknesses) quite easily. If you can notice others’ strengths, they too can notice yours. So, if someone compliments you for good work, pay attention. He may be pointing at your strengths unconsciously.

A person’s strengths are like a blown-up balloon under the water–they keep surfacing. Sub-consciously, you may feel a compulsion to express your strengths. For example, if your strength is writing, you may grab any opportunity to write.

Ask yourself: “What do I feel compelled to do?

Like a magnet, your yearnings pull you towards your strengths. So, if you catch yourself longing repeatedly to do something, say, teaching others, therein may lie your strength.

Rapid learning
If you are able to learn a particular skill rapidly, that again is a clue to your strength.

Losing track of time
Not being conscious of the time while you are doing something is one of the most reliable clues to your strengths.

Ask yourself: “What do I enjoy doing so much that it makes me lose track of time?”

Feedback analysis
This method was suggest by management guru Peter Drucker. It works as follows:

1. Whenever you take a key decision or action, write down what you expect to happen.
2. Later, perhaps after a few days, weeks or months, compare the actual results with your own expectations.

According to Drucker, if practiced consistently, the feedback analysis will reveal to you both your strengths and weaknesses.

With so many ways to uncover your strengths, it is time you unleashed them to enjoy your work, give superior performance and savor success in your career.

Atul Mathur is the author of three ebooks: 5 Quick Steps to a New Job, The Best Career Move: Know Yourself and The Secret of Finding the Right Career Direction.


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