We all want to be able to use our talents and skills to the best effect at work. Finding out exactly what our abilities are though, can be a hit and miss affair.
Things like school reports, random comments from colleagues and jokey asides from family members can add to a somewhat foggy view of how you view your skill base.
Not really understanding your own strengths can lead to dissatisfaction in your work. You might feel unappreciated and unfulfilled.
Meaning and purpose are missing and the to-do list becomes a chore.
For a solo operator this is dangerous territory, since we rely on our own intrinsic motivation and feeling of self-worth to get us through the down times.
You have strengths
How might it feel to do what comes most easily and naturally to you and have it recognised by others?
When you work in this way you will find yourself ready to learn new skills, be more able to collaborate and be excited about mundane tasks because you are engaged in the bigger picture.
You will also be able to talk about your own abilities more clearly on your profile or during a pitch.
A few ways to find out
The world around you can work as a mirror, reflecting back your brilliant self. This approach works best if you have a method though, so here are some ideas on how to go about it.
Ask three friends, colleagues or relatives to give you a list of your 10 top strengths. Make it clear this is not an ego-boosting session but you are doing some genuine research to enable you to develop and learn.
Try not to limit the kinds of things you are asking for either, because some of the characteristics they come up with may surprise you.
Listen to the world
We all receive spontaneous, unsolicited feedback on our behaviour and achievements from time to time.
I used to disregard these and hear them as compliments, but conversation with an inspiring woman changed my listening and I realised that there was more to find out.
If possible, ask the speaker to enlarge on a brief comment by asking, “How did I do that?” or “What happened that worked for you?” The more specific the response the more useful it will be.
Think about a time when you were in your element, when what you did came easily, everything worked, it felt natural and all was smooth sailing.
It doesn’t have to be work focused; it could be when you were taking part in a sport or chatting to friends. Analyse the event to find out what skills and abilities you were using. Note them down.
You may find that they were transferable skills such as team-building that could be of great value to a client.
These are just starting points. As you begin to pay attention to what people say about you, you will be able to form a clearer picture of your unique offering and use it productively.