The biggest shift this year in my life has been finding self confidence. At the beginning of the year I really suffered from a sense that I had nothing to offer anyone. I didn’t know what I was good at other than my job which I hated. It used a unique skill set that I couldn’t see how it could translate anywhere else, so I felt trapped and useless. But once I discovered that I honestly had strengths and things that I could offer anywhere, that was a huge shift in my thinking.
One of the tools that I have found really useful in was the Clifton Strengthsfinder 2.0 tool. Essentially, they have developed a survey that takes an individual about 20-25 minutes, and for $10 they will tell you your top 5 personal strengths. I found it really insightful, simply because I was feeling so stuck with finding a way to answer “what am I good at”. What I like about the results is that these strengths are task-independent, so it is clear how they can be applied everywhere in life. I can use these strengths in serving my family as much as I can use them when taking up a new hobby, as well as directly improving my performance at work. I also really appreciate in the report how it gives advice about applying those strengths in potentially new ways to your existing career. Just thinking about these alone and working on ways to adapt my role to incorporate more of my strengths has really helped me.
I want to share my Strengths here, and hope that by you reading about these, and how finding out about them has helped me, it might inspire you.
1)Input: My number one strength is “Input”. Essentially, I’m really good at finding and absorbing a lot of information on almost any topic. I love to read, to listen to interviews, and to absorb any information that I can. But, then there is the question of what to do with all this information? In the past I have just filed it away either in notebooks that get buried, or didn’t do anything with the information. This year, I have decided to start finding ways to curate that information and share it meaningfully with people. I have prepared a few reports at work that go far outside of my job, because what I was learning I could see the potential and no one knew to ask me. So I took on the challenge anyway. This is also what I’m trying to do with my blog – share what I’m learning and curate it. The blog is a bit disorganized at the moment, but I’m still in the early experimental stage. I’ve also taken on the desire to learn more at work. I have scheduled in two 30 minute sessions every week into my calendar where I will do something to learn. I have access to a tool called Plural Sight, so I will work on a lesson that I am interested in during these sessions. This change alone made a huge difference in my attitude towards work (simply because I was so frustrated at my lack of learning, and this gave me the chance again).
2) Restorative. When this was shown as my second strength, it made a lot of sense. I’m good at debugging electronics. I love to fix problems. I love to learn ways to make something better. This is something that I’ve always known I was good at, but never had the words to claim it and understand how to apply it in other ways. What I also love about the description that Gallup gives for this is that it isn’t simply about fixing broken things, but about making things better too. I love doing that, and have tried to find ways at work to live this out in our processes and practices.
3)Adaptability: At first, I laughed at this. I saw this right after I had discovered that I was terrible at doing any long term planning. I’m someone who’s always made a decision based on what’s in front of me, and when a task is done I simply look up to determine what next to do. I was assuming this was a weakness. In truth, this can be a weakness, but when I see this as a strength, the ability to handle changed plans and expectations, the ability to juggle changing realities, this makes me feel at least a bit better. I’m not sure how I’ve been able to use this one to my advantage, but its there and I’m aware of it.
4) Intellection: Its true that I love to get into the deep philosophies behind why things are the way they are. It helped in engineering school, it helped as I studied theology, it has helped as I started pursuing the self-knowledge I needed to understand why I was unhappy with my life. This is one where I see a lot of value in conjunction with my “input” strength, because I see the value in drawing in a lot of information. This strength helps me find connections between things that others miss, or just ignore. This has helped me immensely as I have started trying to make changes at my workplace. I’ve been using this strength sparingly, but I’m really excited when I can pull this out.
5) Learner: 3 of my top 5 strengths all seem to center around learning… I would be a great professional student. As I mentioned above, after seeing this, I realized why I have felt so disengaged at work as one of the biggest shifts in the past year has been that I have not had the opportunity to do any tasks that required me to learn. I have chosen to make this a priority, and to find ways to decide my learning path, rather than just learn what ever seems interesting to me at that moment. That shift alone was huge for me, to recognize that I could choose what I want to learn, rather than be directed by external sources. I’ve often learned for fun, but it was always randomly. Now I’m targeting my learning on coaching, entrepreneurship, business/marketing, and productivity as well as my other interests (neuroscience, philosophy, psychology).
If you take the quiz, I would love you to share your top 5 strengths with me in the comments.