It’s hard not comparing yourself to another.
We often look to others for the qualities we’d most like to develop within ourselves. This kind of exercise has a lot of value, but we often forget (or never learn) that we’re born with our own set of natural strengths that are just waiting to get out.
Know what your strengths are and take advantage of them.
– Greg Norman
Identifying your own natural strengths and talents isn’t always easy, but it’s well-worth your time to uncover them.
It’s often these strengths that allow us to get ahead in whatever our chosen endeavor is because they transcend specific activities. You can be a natural-born athlete, writer, or politician, but your natural strengths can also be more intangible — like the ability to stay cool under pressure, break down complex problems, or stay enthusiastic even in the face of adversity.
But that begs the question: how on Earth are you supposed to discover what these natural strengths and talents are for you?
Admittedly, there is no clear path to doing so, however, I’ve found a few very effective methods for uncovering clues that can lead you to discover your natural strengths and talents.
It mostly comes down to three methods, each different but valuable in their own unique way:
1. Interview your friends and loved ones
I placed this at the top intentionally. Personally, I’ve found this to be by the far the easiest, most dependable, and most natural way of discovering your natural strengths and talents. In fact, you can often stop here and just use this method to do so.
Take some time to talk to your closest friends, family, long-time co-workers, and anyone else that has been around you for a long period of time and which you believe is willing to be honest with you; then ask them what they believe are your natural strengths and talents. While you’re at it, you might as well ask them what they believe are your weaknesses as well, as this can be almost equally useful and a convenient time to find out.
You’re not looking for people who are going to stroke your ego, you’re looking for honest responses from the people that know you the best. If you’re a business owner, your employees are a good example of who not to ask.
This method works so well for the same reason that we don’t notice our own flaws: we’re too deep into our own heads to notice things about ourselves, things which are much more clearly apparent to someone watching from the outside.
By interviewing those who watch you the most, you’re able to find out interesting tidbits of information you never knew about yourself. This exercise often uncovers some very surprising things so it can be just as fun as it is worthwhile.
2. Identify moments of flow
Again, you can often just stick with the first point and be done with it.
However, sometimes we don’t have many people around us on a regular basis, or those that are we don’t feel would be good people to ask. If that’s the case, these next two points can be particularly helpful.
Identifying moments of flow, in other words, moments where you’ve lost yourself in your work or another activity, can be an effective way of identifying a personal strength. This is because entering a state of flow is the sign of someone who is adept at said activity, with a certain level of comprehension and ability being necessary in the first place to enter flow while doing said activity.
Can you think of a time when you were doing an activity where time seemed to fly by effortlessly? Perhaps you were solving a puzzle, writing in your journal, or putting some graphic designs together for a local event flyer. These are all valuable clues that you should pay close attention to in searching out your natural strengths.
3. Uncover your passions
Closely aligned with your natural strengths are the things you love and have a passion for.
Similar to how a state of flow is a sign of a natural strength, when we truly enjoy something it becomes more effortless for us to perform it. And when it is easier for us to perform a task, we naturally become (or are) better at it.
When it comes to the things you love and have a passion for, you have the potential to very quickly and much more easily excel when compared to the average person. To be clear, you don’t automatically have a natural strength in something you have a passion for, but it’s common enough that it’s a good place to look.
However, on a side note, regardless of whether you have a natural strength in said activity or not, your passion for it will fuel your progress faster than anything else will. Often, it’s this passion and ever-burning enthusiasm that results in greatness in people.
We often deeply admire the positive qualities we see in others, especially those we have a great respect for. But you have your own set of natural strengths and talents which you were either born with or have developed thus far in your life.
Discovering your natural strengths and talents is an important part of learning how to be the best possible version of yourself, so take the time necessary to discover these strengths so you can begin putting them to good use.