The world needs that special gift that only you have.
What are your strengths? What are you really good at?
This question had been haunting me for months. My friends knew I was looking for my next career move and were pushing me to do something I was good at. Like being a personal assistant.
Makes sense, right? You sure won’t get hired for a job you have no idea how to do…
But there’s something about this advice that never sat well with me. It’s just… incomplete.
Finding your strengths is good advice. There’s a reason if you’re ridiculously good at something. It’s a gift you were given to share with the world and make it a better place.
But your strengths are not probably what you think they are. Here’s what I mean and how to find your real strengths, gifts, and talents:
What’s A Strength?
Most people think a strength is something you’re really good at. That’s definitely a part of it. But it’s not the whole story.
Truth bomb: just because you’re good at something, doesn’t mean you want to spend the rest of your life doing it.
For example, I’m good at organization. I have all my files neatly organized in their colour coded folders, have set up a thousand labels for my emails, and have a checklist for everything.
All my friends, at some point or other, told me I’d be a good personal assistant or secretary. Never mind the very idea made me want to puke.
No offence to all personal assistants out there. It’s just not my calling.
To turn something you’re good at into a strength, you need a special ingredient: passion.
Here’s the magic recipe that makes up a strength:
- Talent: An ability you have a natural aptitude for. It either comes naturally to you or you learn it quickly without much effort.
- Passion: Something you care about and are dedicated to for the long haul.
- Action: The way you use your talent to pursue your passion. Because having a strength you don’t use is useless.
You know when you’ve found a strength. Not only you’re good at it, but using it makes you feel good. You love it so much, you could be doing it forever. It’s not a chore. It’s something you were born to do.
Not sure what your passions are? Click on the image below to download the Passion Finder Worksheet to find your passions and start living them now:
Related: How To Find Your Passions
Why Is It So Hard To Find Your Strengths?
I believe each of us is on this planet for a reason. We’re all born with talents, passions, and gifts that help us fulfill our life purpose.
As a young child, you know instinctively what these gifts are. You gravitate towards the things you like. You could spend hours kicking a ball, writing short stories, or coming up with science experiments.
In a perfect world, the adults in your life would encourage you to explore these talents and passions until they merge together to form a strength.
But this is not a perfect world. The adults in your life are more interested in keeping you safe and make sure you have a job (any job) than seeing you happy.
You quickly learn that some strengths are more valuable than others. Being good at math trumps being creative. Studying science is better than studying history. Being a CEO is more glamorous than being a teacher.
You’re encouraged to pursue only those strengths with the highest potential to make you money… even when they make you miserable inside.
I know because I’ve been there. Writing is in my blood, yet for many years I’ve set this gift aside to develop other skills – like organization and learning foreign languages – that everyone told me would bring me more money.
Not only I never made much money, I was miserable all the time!
Maybe you’re making good money using your skills. But are you fulfilled? Do you wake up in the morning happy and excited to go to work?
If you answered no, chances are you’ve pursued the wrong strength, too.
P.S. Just because a skill isn’t a strength, doesn’t mean it’s wrong or useless. By all means, if you have a talent for something, develop it. Just don’t turn it into your career.
Why Do You Need To Find Your Strengths?
Because the world needs them.
Here’s the deal: you’re unique. There’ll never be another you with the exact same combination of interets, passions and strengths.
You know what that means? No one else can do exactly what you do and help people in the exact same way.
That’s the whole point, isn’t it? You were given these strengths to use them to make the world a better place.
You have the gift of writing so you can write books to inspire the next generation of female leaders.
You have the gift of entrepreneurship so you can create businesses that give back to the community.
You have the gift of cooking so you can make nourishing meals for your loved ones.
Can you imagine all the good you can do if you share your strengths and gifts with the world?
Don’t imagine it. Do it.
How To Find Your Strengths
So, how do you find your strengths?
It’s easier than you think. Your strengths have left a lot of clues behind over the years. Here’s how to uncover them and put the pieces of the puzzle together:
1. What Did You Like To Do When You Were A Child?
Think back of when you were little, when you were free to play and explore whatever piqued your curiosity.
Back then, you had no idea what was considered cool or what wasn’t. What others thought would make you rich or not. You just did things for the love of them. It felt good.
Can you remember that? Now answer these questions:
- What did you spend hours doing?
- What engrossed you to the point you were late for your family dinner?
- What were you obsessed about?
When I think back to my childhood, I see a clear pattern. From as long as I remember, I’ve been obsessed with words.
I’d read everything I could find and then write research papers on them (no, these weren’t school assignments!), pen short stories about what my toys were up to when I wasn’t looking, and put together a little magazine I’d distribute to my family. Oh, I kept a diary, too.
Books is how I learn new things. Writing is how I share my knowledge with other people and inspire them to improve their life.
Is it any wonder that when I became a life purpose coach, I started using blog posts to spread my message?
2. What Are You Incredibly Good At?
As you grew older, you honed some skills more than others.
Maybe your parents encouraged you to study languages and now you can speak French, German and Russian. Or you spent all your free time drawing illustrations. Or you pursued a degree in physics.
Maybe you did it just to please your parents. Or maybe you followed a passion. Either way, identifying these skills can help you separate your real strengths from the things you’re good at but don’t want to pursue further.
- What awards/medals (in any field) did you win?
- What certifications or degree do you have?
- What skills have you acquired in your current and previous jobs?
- What skills did you develop thanks to your hobbies?
These are all things you’re incredibly good at. But how do they make you feel? If doing them lights you up, chances are they’re a strength.
If they don’t, use the skills whenever you need to, but don’t pursue them further.
3. Ask Your Friends
Are you sitting here, thinking, “I’m not sure I have any strengths?”
You do, but it can be hard for you to spot them. It’s totally normal. Your strengths come so naturally to you, they feel like second nature.
You don’t realise that your knack for putting stunning outfits together, your witty way with words, or your ability to make hard calculations immediately in your mind are things other people struggle with.
When in doubt, ask your family and friends. They know you better than anyone else and will be able to point out lots of things you’re good at.
Here are a few things to ask them:
- What are some things you think I’m really good at?
- What are you struggling with that comes easily to me?
- What would you ask me for advice on?
If you’re too embarrassed to ask them in person, shoot them an email. Here’s a script you can follow:
I know this may sound like a weird request, but I’d really appreciate your help on this. It won’t take more than a couple of minutes of your time – promise!
As you know, I’m planning my next career move and I’m trying to find my 3 strongest, biggest strengths. I’m curious to hear your take:
What are some of the things you think I’m very good at? What would you come to me for advice for or what value/services do you think I could offer others?
I know you’re really busy, so if you don’t have the time, I totally understand.
But if you can share anything, however brief, it’d really help. I really value your opinion.
Thank you so much!
Once the answers start pouring in (and they will!), look for common themes. What are your top strengths everyone is commenting on?
4. Take The Strengths Finder 2.0 Test
Did you know there are many tools out there to help you find your strengths? My fave is Strengths Finder 2.0.
FYI, this is a paid service, but it’s worth every cent (no, I don’t make a commission if you click on the link or use the service).. Developed by researchers from the Gallup company, it helps you identify your 5 core strengths.
The report ranks these strengths in order of importance, describes what they are and how they can help you, and gives you a detailed list of actions you can take to make the most of them.
I’ll show you what that looks like. Here are my 5 top strengths, according to Strengths Finder 2.0:
- Context: You look at the past to understand and build a better future. You can use this strength to help people identify the actions that led to their current problems, so they can make better decisions in the future.
- Deliberative: Careful and vigilant, you consider every option and examine all the pros and cons before making a decision. This strengths help you see things that other people miss and reduce the risk of failure.
- Intellection: You’re very introspective and love to think, reflect, and ponder. You can use this strength to identify valuable insights that help you reach your goals better and faster.
- Learner: You love to learn and always want to improve yourself. It’s the process of learning, rather than the outcome, that excites you. You can use this strength to be an early adopter of new technologies, trends, and philosophies, and help them trickle down to those around you, so your knowledge can benefit them, too.
- Input: You love to collect and archive. You may accumulate ideas, information, artifacts, or even relationships. You can use this strength to collect info (or whatever) about a topic and share it to help others when the moment comes.
No wonder I became a coach and a writer!
I’m always reading the latest books and studies about psychology, spirituality and self-help, so I can share what really works with my readers and clients.
I also like to delve into people’s past and understand what got them to settle in the wrong career – something you need to be aware of if you want to take charge of your life and create the career of your dreams.
If you’d like to find your strengths, too, you can buy the book “Discover Your CliftonStrengths” or take the test online.
5. What Challenges Did You Overcome?
We all go through bad times. It’s how we overcome them that makes us stronger.
Maybe you were bullied at school. Or faced depression. Or hated your body so much, you developed an eating disorder.
You’ve been through hell and battled your demons. You almost gave up hope after struggling for so many years. But in the end you won.
My struggle was depression. I’ve spent years locked up in my bedroom, too scared to face another human being. I’ve lost jobs. Friends. Boyfriends.
Only when I hit rock bottom, I found the determination to crawl out of that black hole. Picking up the pen and starting writing again – a passion I had abandoned for too long – was key in my recovery.
The experience taught me that I’m stronger than I am. That when you give up on your gifts and passions, your soul dies a bit every day.
It forced me to develop a growth mindset and become more resilient. To pick up self-help books so I could learn who I was and how to build myself up again.
And a lot of other things. But you get the point. No experience is wasted. There’s a gift even in your darkest hour. To find it, ask yourself:
- What challenges did you overcome?
- What did the experience teach you?
- What skills/habits did you develop to overcome it?
- What mindset shifts did you adopt to overcome your challenge?
I believe you were sent this challenge for a reason: to develop the strengths you need to fulfill your purpose.
Over to you, now. How did you find your strengths? Share your thoughts in the comments below.