by Diana La Femina, Head Editor, INALJ South Carolina
Discovering Your Strengths
I’m being hard on myself again. I’m at a perfectly good job, with wonderful coworkers and an environment that’s anything but stale. Problem is, this isn’t where I had envisioned myself a few years ago (or even one year ago, or six months ago). It’s frustrating and disheartening when things don’t work out the way you wanted them to. So what am I doing? I’m second-guessing myself and my abilities. I’m picking apart my weaknesses and strengths, assessing the former as too prominent and the latter as insufficient. It’s a dangerous cycle to get into and one I know I need to break out of (I’ve been here before many times).
I know I’m not alone in this, so I thought I’d take the time to explain how I’m getting myself out of such self-flagellating thoughts. Usually I try to concentrate on what I HAVE achieved. This time, though, I’m taking a different approach: I’m going to analyze my strengths and figure out how best to use them rather than concentrating on how to improve my weaknesses.
I recently read somewhere that from the time we’re young we’re taught to improve our weak areas and become “well-rounded” rather than capitalizing on our strengths. I couldn’t agree more. I’m NOT saying that a well-rounded education is a bad thing (it’s not, it’s a wonderful thing and I’m a science geek now even though I was never good at it in school). What I’m saying is that our society, as a whole, concentrates on improving weaknesses, usually to the detriment of developing strengths. How many of you can identify what you excel in? I’m not talking school subjects, but in the workplace. It’s extremely difficult for me to pinpoint what I’m good at and where I excel on the job, and that limits my ability to grow professionally.
I’m definitely not an expert on tactics for figuring out your strengths, but I think if you analyze your daily tasks and pull out the easiest or most enjoyable you’ll start to see a pattern. The tasks you avoid most likely correlate to your weaknesses. I know, it’s an overly simplified approach, but the message remains: stop thinking about where you’re weak and start concentrating on where you excel. You’ll become a more efficient employee and will be better-able to sell yourself.
There are also a bunch of online quizzes (some free, some not) that can help you analyze your strengths. I have one bookmarked and plan on taking it as soon as I have time (cue hysterical laugher). I’ll let you all know if it’s any good. You might also want to take a Myers-Briggs test to get some more insight into the way you work. I’m a proud INFJ, but I think sometimes taking a personality test like that and reading the results can tell you about yourself just by how much you disagree with certain aspects of the resulting description.