Over the past two years, I’ve become really interested in the topic of personal strengths and weaknesses. I’ve tested many approaches for how to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and discovered 4 steps, which work the best together. They will help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses on your own.
But, before I go into the topic, I would like to tell you why I think it’s important to identify your strengths and weaknesses on your own.
I think our society is too focused on the notion of overcoming our deficits and weaknesses, and puts too little emphasis on someone’s strengths. For example, just think about your classroom experiences.
In every culture, the overwhelming majority of parents think that a student’s lowest grades deserve the most time and attention. Parents and teachers reward excellence with apathy instead of investing more time in the areas where a child has the most potential for greatness.
The reality is that a person who has always struggled with numbers is unlikely to become a great accountant or statistician. That said, the person without much natural empathy will probably never be able to work in a customer support department comforting an angry customer in the warm and sincere way that the greatest empathizers can.
Even the legendary Michael Jordan, who literally embodied the power of raw talent on a basketball court could not become the “Michael Jordan” of golf or baseball, no matter how hard he tried.
I agree; every person can improve his deficits and weaknesses, but the reality is that a person can develop them only to the maximum level of their potential. In other words, this means a person can try as hard as possible but people who are naturally more talented in that area and possess a high degree of willpower, will always surpass them.
So why are we trying so hard to improve our weaknesses rather than focusing on our strengths?
As explained, one reason lies within our system, which is far more focused on person’s weaknesses. It’s hard to blame it. We are programmed to consume negative information first, which similarly means that people will notice their own faults, or the weaknesses of people around them first.
The other big problem is that most people are either unaware of, or unable to describe, their own most powerful strengths. Since, we spend so much time developing our weaknesses, we forget to think about our strengths.
It’s a shame, since our true potential lies in our strengths and the passions we build around them. But, let’s change that. In the following four points I’ll describe 4 steps for how to identify your strengths and weaknesses.
The points will help you to understand yourself far better and help you to focus on the things you are truly good at.
To identify your strengths you have to listen to your own emotions and the small signs from life.
Yes, it’s so simple and hard at the same time. As the center for emotions is located in the subconscious part of human brain, it’s pretty difficult to uncover your true and deepest emotions.
Firstly, I would advise you that you start paying close attention to the things you do with ease and that you generally achieve a good result from. Pay attention to the areas in which you get a natural feeling that everything is running smoothly, and that you have everything under control.
That’s a good start. The process will show you, what you are truly good at. Next, you have to make sure of what your emotions are telling you.
How do you feel when you reach the final point? Does your heart tug at you and make you smile? Would you like to start the process all over again, and does the thought of doing so bring you a great deal of joy.
These are all positive emotions, which will give you a closer look into your passions. But, you have to be careful. Sometimes, these emotions are just a result of an accomplished goal or a finished project—in this case, you experience an emotional rush.
Investigate your emotions further. After you make sure of what you are really feeling, combine your emotions with a rational explanation of the things you are really good at.
It’s important that you focus only on the strengths that connect with your strong emotions. Only in this way, will you be able to keep improving your strengths in the long run. Eventually, these strengths will become your superpowers.
Similarly to the first point, you should identify your personal weaknesses too. In contrast to identifying your strengths, this one should be quite straight-forward.
Why? Because it gets pretty obvious, when you don’t enjoy the process and when others are much better equipped than you in a certain area.
The following indicators will help you to pinpoint your weaknesses:
Use these indicators, during your work routine. When you notice a pattern, which points to one or more indicators, consider it as one of your weaknesses. The stronger the pattern, the stronger your weakness is.
It’s crucial to know your weaknesses to plan out some time to give them attention, so they don’t end up hurting you. There is no chance they will become your strengths, but you don’t want those things holding you back either. Also, you might consider partnering with someone who is far better than you in the areas of your deficits. In this way, you’ll be able to turn your deficits into your advantages.
However, allocate your time wisely and invest more energy into your strengths. With both your strengths and weaknesses identified, you’ll know what to focus on in your life.
I’ve already been writing about the importance of completing personal research in the case of building your personal brand. The same thinking applies when it comes to how to identify your strengths and weaknesses.
Although it’s essential that you listen to and investigate your feelings first (see the previous two points), you’ll get great and valuable insights about your core strengths and weaknesses just by asking people what they think about you. Furthermore, you’ll discover how outside perceptions might differ from your own—or how both are aligned closely.
You should conduct a bit of research among people who you’ve worked with, as well as your closest friends, family, and peers. Put together a short questionnaire. Ask your peers questions like:
5-10 completed questionnaires should be sufficient to create an effective analysis of the answers. Cluster the most evident findings and write them down.
Then combine those findings with your personal ones. Combining them together will create an overall image of your strengths and weaknesses based on your personal views and views of your surrounding community.
I’ve discovered Gallup’s Strengthsfinder analysis just recently, and it’s a truly amazing.
Throughout the extensive research from their database of more than 100,000 talent-based interviews, they were able to identify 34 the most common themes of talent and create an assessment to measure these distinct talents (strengths).
I’ve completed the assessment myself and I was absolutely amazed with the findings. The assessment revealed my 5 top talents which couldn’t be more accurate.
How do I know that? I compared the results with my personal findings and I read the descriptions of other talents, from which I couldn’t recognise myself. The identified 5 top talents resonated within me the most.
So, why is the analysis important?
Although you identified your strengths and weaknesses on your own, with the help of your peers; your analysis may be biased. It may contain a bad sample of personal views, opinions, and impressions. That’s why, it’s valuable to strengthen those findings with the scientific verified model.
However, the Strengthsfinder actually measures talents, not strengths. They consider a talent as one of the ingredients in the formula of building a true strength. The formula reads as follows:
Talent (a natural way of thinking, feeling or behaving) x Investment (time spent practicing, developing your skills, and building your knowledge base) = Strength (the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance)
Anyhow, the formula is no different from what I proposed in the previous paragraphs. When you identify your strengths, you need to keep developing them (=investment) in order to make your true strengths into your superpowers.
Let’s see an example for how the formula works in practice.
If you commit yourself to developing one of your weaknesses (let’s assume you’ve scored a 2 on a 1-5 scale) and you possess strong willpower (your score for an investment is a perfect 5), your maximum potential for building a strength is only a 10 (2 x 5).
But, if you focus on improving your strength (let’s assume you’ve scored a 5) and at the same time you possess a strong willpower (your score for an investment is a 5), your maximum potential for that strength is a score of 25 (5×5).
Entirely different level, right. That’s why I think it’s ultimately important that we focus on our strengths in our lives.
The described framework is based on my personal process of identifying my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve put it in a written format, because I believe it’s one of the most important steps in the personal development of every individual.
Regardless of, if you know your strengths or not, use it, because I think you will uncover at least a thing or two about yourself. I know I did and it helped me in my personal development.
If you truly want to commit to the process I suggest you to download the Strengthsfinder 2.0 book in order to complete the web-based strengths assessment—you can do this here. Every book contains a unique access code for the assessment. By completing the assessment, you’ll get an access into your 5 top talents and all associated materials. This investment of $15 is actually an investment into your own personal development.
So now over to you. How did you find the article explaining how to identify your strengths and weaknesses? What did you like the most, and which steps did you find the most useful? Please share your thoughts, views, and recommendations in the discussion section below.
Also, please share this blog post with at least one friend who needs to read this, and identify his or her own strengths and weaknesses.
Nejc is a passionate entrepreneur and an inspiring speaker, co-founder at altCLASS and co-founder of POINT OUT. He'll show you how to unlock your true potential and identify your life’s purpose.
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