Owning It: Identifying your strengths and “weaknesses”|
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is something that is crucial in your career. Identifying them may seem like a difficult exercise but it’s really as easy as opening up, thinking about it a little, and (most importantly) listening to those around you.
In terms of the things you are great at, people in your life have probably been telling you this for years. Are you a great listener? Are you fun and energetic? Are you thoughtful and insightful? In terms of subjects and classes, you’ve probably gotten good grades in some, and because of that, have chosen to pursue more classes in that area and maybe even selecting a major based on those strengths.
The absolute best thing you can do with your strengths once you’ve identified them, is to run with them.
- Acknowledge them and truly believe in them – Have confidence in the positives and know how great you really are. The ability to identify your special and unique qualities will serve you well throughout your life.
- Put all of your energy into them – What types of roles and activities are conducive to your strengths? Find them, and stick to them. Spending your career doing something that comes naturally to you is going to make you an incredible resource to a company – and you’ll also genuinely enjoy what you do!
- Keep developing them – Great at public speaking? Find a way to become even better. The more you do something the more confident and proficient you will become. The sky is really the limit.
Identifying “weaknesses” is a little bit tougher. I actually don’t love that word – because it feels so negative. Let’s assume when I say “weakness” I actually mean “the things you are not naturally as great at.”
People in your life probably won’t point out your weaknesses voluntarily so you have to inquire a little more. After you have finished a project, ask what you did well and what you could have done better. If you just presented to a group, ask someone in the audience what was impactful and what wasn’t. No one is perfect, so there is no sense in holding yourself to that unrealistic standard. Just knowing your weaker areas, will make you more successful.
- Take them into account when making career decisions – Because there will always be things you are not naturally as good at, recognize those areas, and choose a career path that doesn’t heavily rely on being strong in that area. Forcing a “square peg into a round hole” is going to make your career an uphill battle.
- Look at “the other side” – Believe it or not, every “weakness” can be turned around into a strength (and vice-versa). Perhaps there was a time where you hurt someone’s feelings because you were too blunt with them. However, that can be seen as the great quality of “honesty” – something people appreciate and value in the right context.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself – Everyone has weaker areas. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Spending time rehashing why you’re not perfect is not productive and puts out a negative energy to those around you. Acknowledge mistakes, constantly seek to improve, but don’t dwell.
With both your strengths and your weaknesses, it is important to always evolve. Be open to new experiences and things that will change you. As you grow in your career, you will change. Your strengths and weaknesses will change. Your skills will change… embrace that constant change and don’t be afraid of what’s to come.
Photo Courtesy of Aly & Andrea