Knowing and using your strengths is key to career growth and development. This awareness transforms talents into resources to help you meet your goals. And yet, too many talented professionals believe that their abilities are insufficient — that they must become someone else to succeed. Discrediting your strengths (or, worse, seeing them as weaknesses) obstructs your professional development. It feels terrible too.
Discrediting your strengths might sound like the following: "Yeah, but that's not really a strength." "I'm good at that, but I'm not the best." "Yeah, but that's not what you need to be a good leader/entrepreneur/etc." "The most successful people are good at X. That's not what I'm good at." Notice a theme? Listen for the "yeah, but."
No Hierarchy of Strengths
Strengths can be sorted and categorized, but they are not hierarchical. There's no ranking between them. One talent isn't better than another. Being strategic isn't better than being empathic. Developing the talents of others isn't superior to winning others over with your charm. Deliberating doesn't beat being competitive. Instead, they are all tools that can help you meet your goals. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. The key is to use them deliberately and to the right degree.
Use What You Have to Get Where You Want
Many think that fixing their weaknesses or adopting "preferable" strengths is how to develop their career. In practice, the opposite works better. Using the strengths you already have is an effective and more manageable strategy.
Positive psychology researcher Robert Biswas-Diener offers a poignant metaphor that illustrates this. He describes weaknesses as holes in your boat and your strengths as the sail. Without patching holes, your ship will sink. But just fixing holes won't move you forward. You need a sail for that.
Instead of discrediting your strengths, comparing yourself to others and trying to become someone you're not, find out what you're good at and use those capacities to move forward. Remember: there's more than one way to be successful.
Need Help Identifying and Celebrating Your Strengths?
If you are unsure about your talents, or if they are talents, here are a few ways to uncover them.
1) Ask people you trust which strengths they observe.
2) Take a strengths assessment. (All my coaching packages include the CliftonStrengths Top Five assessment).
3) Go deep by partnering with a strengths-based coach. A strengths-based coach can help you name and celebrate what you have to offer and identify career paths that leverage those talents.
Book a complimentary Career Clarity call with me if you want to feel confident about your strengths and where they can get you.