Identify Your Strengths and Talents


5 Steps for Identifying Your Strengths and Talents

Part of personal development is taking full advantage of your strengths and talents, as discussed in my feature article what is self development . What do you do well and how can you leverage those things to achieve your goals and eventual life purpose? Strengths and talents define us as individuals. Knowing what these are and building them into your personal development plan is critical. Your plan is unique for many reasons and one of them is that your plan must take full advantage of what you are good at doing. This is why two people do not achieve the same goals in the same way.

Look at these two statements and chose the one that best describes yourself:

a) The better I am at something the more I enjoy doing it?
b) The more I enjoy doing something the better I am at doing it.

If you chose ‘a’ then you are likely more motivated by success. Conversely, if you chose ‘b’ you are likely motivated more by happiness. Now, just because you one or the other does not mean that you do not like being happy or successful, it just indicates a preference. You may also find that as your travel through life these things change.

First, make your lists

So, with that information in mind make two lists. Do not spend more than 15 minutes on each list. Organize each list in order of priority to you. Here are the two lists you will create:

a) A list of those things that you do really well.
b) A list of those things that you enjoy doing.

Here are some ideas to help you fill out your list:

• interpersonal skills – how you deal with others
• verbal, written, and communication skills
• dexterous skills – using your hands
• thinking skills – analysis, problem solving, etc
• meticulous and tedious skills
• planning
• spur of the moment or crisis skills
• do you require a lot of time to think or do you typically wing it? How is that working for you
• what would others say you do well?
• What do people count on your for?
• If you could do anything in life what would it be?

Second, combine the lists

Compare the two lists and see how they differ. Was one list easier to develop than the other? Combine the lists and eliminate the duplicates.

Third, identify your top strengths or talents

Pick the top five or six items off the list and note them in your journal. Each day for a week review your daily activities and make a note of how often you use your top items.

Fourth, record and review your week

At the end of the week review the activities. You want to see how often you used your top five or six strengths or talents. If you did not use one or two of them, you need to ask yourself why. Here are some typical reasons why some of your top five or six talents or strengths are not being used:

• Your life at home and work is not lined up with your strengths. Should you make changes to your life like a carrier change?
• Maybe you have the wrong items on the top of the list. Review your list.
• Perhaps it was just an abnormal week. Go for another week and see if the results change.

Fifth, make necessary adjustments

Armed with this new information you can make adjustments. You will do one of three things:

1. Adjust your list,
2. Adjust your job, or
3. Live with the bitter realization that you are not living your life to take advantage of your best strengths and skills. Sounds dreary to me.

Your life purpose is typically tied up with your talents and skills, those that you love to do and those that you are great at. So, if you want to be as successful as possible, and as happy as possible, then you need to build upon your talents and strengths. You need to make them stronger. You need to exercise them often.

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