KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS IN 4 STEPS
In a previous post, we talked about selling yourself instead of selling a product.
Yes, and we know everyone is different and we have to find out who we are that make us special – what will make our unique selling proposition. That’s what we are.
As the world becomes more and more competitive, we all need to take steps to reinforce our brand and elevate our message above the noise. Because our tasks and responsibilities are often similar to those of our peers, only our personality and our mix of experiences make us uniquely memorable. Our Value Proposition.
Here and everywhere, you will find a lot of test or strengths questionnaire/survey. But it looks like a lot of the common strength finder type of tests will give you adjectives that many others may be using as well. All the standard tools and personality tests are fine, but I believe there is more power in self-reflection. No tool can know us better than we know ourselves. In addition, a standard tool cannot intuit which strengths and talents are most important to us. And only self-reflection will help you in finding something that isn’t typically listed and which will make you standing out.
So the first step in developing a winning value proposition is self-appraisal to assess your own strengths. And here are 4 steps that may help you:
Step 1 : Know and list your strengths. Your life hasn’t started today. You weren’t born this morning. I mean, look back to your past jobs and to your time at school, even to your childhood. What did you enjoy most? What were you best at? Your current job may hold clues. Pay attention. Also, read again your old performance appraisals from past years, from past jobs, or remember coaching you got from your former supervisors, even if it was about a different kind of position you hold today. What we are today is made of what we have done, achieved or failed. Look for surprises. There are obvious reasons why you had made some choices. Most likely based on your strengths, because you were in your comfort zone. List clearly and concisely those strengths. Take a moment to think about a time when you felt you were at the top of your game. What was it about the way you approached that situation or challenge that revealed an outstanding strength you have. Odds are those are good examples of your most true and real and strongest strengths. One tip before you go: it is crucial to be honest and realistic, rather than idealistic in this assessment. An keep these 5 tips in your mind :
- be accurate
- be relevant
- be specific
- don’t be too humble nor modest
- be prepared to argue if you were asked to
Since this is not a test, give your list one more review and make any changes necessary.
Your list then should look like this:
- Strategic Thinking
- Seeing the Essence (This is my “Unique Strength“, my “Value Proposition“)
Step 2 : Check what others think. The perception others have of your roles, your standards and style may be different from what you think. Ask your friends, your current and former colleagues about the list you have established at the first step. Ask for honest feedback. It might be rude, truth can be hard, as they may raise questions about the strengths you did mention. But they may also mention strengths you haven’t listed nor thought about. They could ask questions that lead you to imagine new strengths. Dare to ask those type of question: What do you think I am best at? What are the strengths I might I build upon?
In addition, by having your friends, your colleagues, your peers respond to these 3 simple questions, invaluable feedback can be obtained. The questions could be:
- What should I stop doing?
- What should I keep doing?
- What should I start doing?
Step 3 : Interview yourself. Put your shoes in your boss’s. Think about hiring yourself for your current job, as if you didn’t already have it. You could, you should also do the same for your past jobs. Would you hire you if you had to? That’s really where honesty matters. Ask yourself why you would — or would not — be hired for this job. Step back and ask yourself how you’re doing in your current job. How do you stand out?
Which brings us back to the real question, “Would you hire yourself for the job you currently have?” Knowing yourself, your skills and experience, and knowing the job (since you’re already doing it), ask yourself, “Am I the best, practical choice for the job I have, or could my organization do better?”
For this self-interview to be worth the time you spend on it, you must not only ask tough questions but also make the necessary improvements. On the other hand, the only person who knows the results of this interview is you. Don’t be relentless in uncovering and correcting your own weaknesses.
Last but not least, ask yourself why you left your past jobs, or why were you let go if it happened in your career.
Step 4 : Keep your strength list alive. Your list must be dynamic. Return to your first list of strengths that you established at Step 1. And modify it to reflect what else you have learned through Step 2 and Step 3. Categorize and rank your true and recognized strengths in that list. Be specific. Try to be unique – you have to build your Unique Selling Proposition. Generic strengths are too easy to state. They are seldom helpful but your specific strengths will be the ones credible.
Finally, sit down, relax and think. How do you think about your strengths? What role does that thinking play in your career strategy? And more generally, in your Life.
I believe that these 4 steps can and do help you to realize and understand what are all the decisions about you are made. And how simple and a realization about yourself should not be so easily forgotten.
Inspired from a past article in the HBR Blog Network