“What are your biggest strengths? Your major weaknesses?” This is a phrase we hear much too often throughout our lives. And a fair majority of us are usually rendered answerless. Why is it so? Is it because we think we do not have a particular strength? Or a certain weakness?
Author Robert Kaplan, in his book, What You’re Really Meant to Do: A Roadmap for Reaching Your Unique Potential, says that a majority of people have no idea as to what their strengths and weaknesses are. And those of us who get to know either of the aforementioned traits when we are out on the battlefield. This leaves us weaponless and naked to open attack triggered by the harsh realities of life.
Knowing where your strength lies and which areas of your life you need to improve at (in essence your weak areas) can lead to you doing remarkable things in life. This helps you strip down your choices when it comes to important decision-making, life-changing instances in your life such as what career to choose. It can also help you leverage your strengths so that you can actually make up for certain natural weaknesses within yourself. You can also make use of opportunities that come your way. If these opportunities happen to align with your strengths, you can use them as a stepping-stone to build something new; be it within yourself or for the environment you are working in. However, if they align with your weaknesses, you can use them as a window to work on your weakness(es). These weaknesses can sometimes even be turned into strengths by working on them a necessary time and amount.
Identifying your strengths can help you make more informed choices and may help you stay away from options that will simply waste your time and energy. You can benefit in the following ways:
- Focusing on simmered down options
- Saving valuable time to concentrate on choices that make you feel
- Leads to better decision-making capabilities
- Work on the quality of the situation
- Leads to higher levels of self-confidence and self-esteem
- Value addition in your own life and to the life of others around you
Working around your strengths can open up a whole new world for you in which you get to make a major chunk of the decisions and, to some extent, take control of the event that takes place in your life.
Realizing one’s weaknesses also opens up a path to many advantages. For instance:
- Distribution of tasks in the area others might handle better
- Controlling stress levels. As humans, we tend to naturally stress about things we find difficult
- Avoid signing up for tasks that are based around your weakness
In general, an identification of one’s strengths helps in the building process in terms of growth, personality, self-confidence, and traits of the like. However, knowing where your weaknesses lie is like covering a gaping hole on an often-used road that will enable a smooth transition to activities that converge to one’s strengths.
Most experts encourage building on strengths as this is the arena of life most people expect a positive return, gratification, and satisfaction from in life. These will form your competitive advantage which will differentiate you from a pool of different individuals. This will also give you an edge over individuals who have yet to figure out where their strengths lie.
Strengths vs. Weaknesses
Your strengths are something that comes easily to you. Sometimes, you act out your strengths without having to even think about them. For instance, you might be good at conflict resolution from an early stage and might just be realizing it when thinking about what you are good at.
As children, we develop certain interests by looking at the world around us. Beating on these skills helps us maintain a certain level of discipline because we spend an unconscious amount of time on them. These might be inherited talents, skills taught at school, transferred from friends or triggered at the sight of a certain stimulus. The possibilities are endless. Either way, we acquire these skills and the amount of importance we give to them has an influence on our lives. These skills then turn into strengths based on the work and time we put into them.
Generally, we humans are born with an inclination toward certain skills. These might not necessarily be our strengths. Strengths are built over time and across the effort. Tapping into these strengths can help us improve the value of our lives. Below is a table of skills that act as a person’s strength. And needless to say, these are only a handful of the pool of strengths that people can possess.
Similarly, another table below gives a set of weaknesses that a person may possess.
Because this article is focused on identifying your strengths and weaknesses, below is a short self-assessment technique that you may make use of to identify each.
1. Come up with lists
Through self-analysis, think of your weaknesses and strengths and make a list for each. Your strength list will help you excel further in life whereas your weakness list will help you strengthen your base. This step is the most crucial one and contrary to how it sounds, it is not easy. As humans, we tend to feel insecure about our weaknesses and hence this step can be frustrating as an initiating level. Therefore, it is important that you take plenty of time to honestly think about your negative and positive skills.
If you know your personality type, this list will become a tad bit easier. It is not news that some of us, one list is easier to jot down that the other. When putting down the negatives, you must not delve too deep into situations and once again, you must be honest with yourself.
Make sure that you focus on a couple of core traits per column. A handful is usually the way to go. Any more than that and you are now thinking of other ones that are not very significant. For your aid, we have listed down a couple of questions that will help you remain focused.
- What am I particularly good at?
- What activities do I integrate well with?
- What tasks seem to drain me of energy?
- What are my hobbies revolving around?
- What skills/attributes have helped me most with past projects, difficulties, et cetera?
As you will come to see, some strengths/weaknesses come easily while others need some brainpower to figure out. And sometimes, you end up writing down traits that are more subtle and not specific. This might lead to some ambiguity.
It is often useful to ask your friend, family and/or peers for some help if you get stuck. People around us are usually quick to identify certain attributes that we cannot really pinpoint.
2. Talk to people
When we think about ourselves, we tend to be largely biased. Some people are too insecure to think about their strengths and hence start by filling up the weakness side of the list and some people, who think too highly of themselves, tend to fill up strengths vividly. Either way, the list you will concoct will not be an accurate representation of you. This will lead to an incorrect assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. You will be wasteful in the sense that you might end up focusing on areas that were never your weaknesses, to begin with, and/or strengths you never had will confuse you when trying to attain your goal.
To avoid this, it is always wise to speak to those around you that have an idea of the type of person you are. These are people that you trust such as your friends, family, peers, or your partner. People in close contact with you usually know the type of personality you are. They are also aware of your likes and dislikes which gives them a deep insight into your strengths and weaknesses. It is highly recommended, to keep yourself in check, that you take feedback from people around you. Their opinions are honest, and they will almost always be willing to help you especially with something you find difficult.
The best approach is to think of five people you can trust. These can be a mix of people who live, work and hang around you and who have been doing so for a long period. Their observations will render answers closest to who you are. However, it is not just about who knows you the longest. Sometimes people who have known you for a long time fall out of touch with you. These are not people you should be considering. On the other hand, family and significant others tend to be biassed when it comes to you at the mercy of their emotions. Try avoiding such relationships. Try to find a group of balanced people so that your assessment be as close to accurate results as possible.
Finally, explain to them the purpose of your research. Try to bring across the gravity of the situation so you may get to work immediately. Often times, a friendly group might laugh about and take things way too light. Once again, choose your group wisely. You can add aspects of the feedback to refine your list and you can then finally proceed further.
3. Find your personality type
Often times we think of ourselves differently from who we actually are. Think of it as the base of all of our relationships. If self-evaluation is faulty, the rest is history. For a solid base of your traits, it is best to take a personality test. Below are some tests you can opt for to get started:
- DISC Personality Testing
This is a personality test used for corporate purposes. This test is usually introduced as an ice breaker as it helps provide people ground to start off on. If you are evaluating yourself for career-related issues, this test will help you slim down your options and focus on core careers.
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
The MBTI is a top tier personality type indicator often used y corporate clientele. The results are drawn from this tool often lie very close to actual personality types. There are certain parameters under which the test works: Decision-making, taking in information, approaching the outside world, and energy (extrovert vs. introvert).
- StrengthsFinder 2.0
This tool works by finding a recurring theme hidden in your top five talents. There is no certain parameter and the deduction is completely and solely made by the finder. The StrengthsFinder test has been deemed best when deciphering one’s personality and it is also the cheapest to find online.
4. New Experiences
New experiences open new doors. As the famous quote goes “If you do not fail, you are not trying anything new”. Most people are afraid of new things because they usually do not know enough about them. One can spend reasonable time researching new activities to try out. Placing yourself in situations at an affordable loss level can offer you an unimaginable level of exposure. This will lead to you identifying spots that need work in real-time. Below, we have stated some activities you might want to indulge in.
- Creative activities
- Dancing: The art of having control over your body gives a greater vision of the self. Usually, people who have command over a certain type of activity find it easier to drive themselves through other stressful situations. YouTube is the way to go for individuals who want to take up jazzing up to some funky music to shake off that stress.
- Painting/Drawing/Coloring: Color Therapy is a field of psychology that seems to be gaining lots of attention. Humans vibe with different colors in different ways. This is why certain people prefer a certain ‘favorite’ over another. For instance, psychologists refer to blue as a calming color as opposed to red which is usually seen as a shade that is associated with aggression.
- Cooking: Like dancing, when one cooks, they have full control over the tasks they have undertaken. This seems to be gratifying and is also said to be a full-on therapy session for some people. Once again, popular media such as YouTube, Facebook, et cetera are good areas to start learning recipes for interested individuals.
- Athletic activities
- For individuals with a physical aptitude, there are a number of activities available to choose from:
- Going to the gym: More often than not, physical exercises usually assist in wavering off the impact of stress on our mind which helps us think clearer and much better. One might also take working out as a hobby and then develop other activities around it.
- Rock Climbing: This exercise is mostly about how much one can push himself/herself. The willingness to succeed with the satisfaction of conquering something much bigger than you and moments in isolation can be very therapeutic and relaxing.
- Yoga: Research shows the release of hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine that help in relaxation and increase focus levels.
- Technical activities
- Starting a blog: Having a daily/weekly blog can help a person keep track of how long he/she has come from a certain point in time. Because of the consciousness of a larger audience, individuals usually try to maintain a certain theme and professional style of doing things. This consciousness may lead to an individual sticking to the kind of content they best come up with which represents strength and keeping away from certain content that they cannot tackle well, in essence, their weakness.
- Technical activities
5. Analyzing your results
Finally, you have to weigh out the personality traits on your list. You may ask yourself certain questions to use the information in hand. This might help you sift through the skills/attributes you have mentioned. Some questions are posted below:
- What are my goals and objectives?
- What are the drawbacks of each skill?
- How can I enhance my skills?
- Which skills will add value to my life?
- Is my job built around my skills or are my skills building around my job?
Once you have a further sifted list of attributes on hand, you can try to slowly build around them. Give yourself time to get through each skill allowing yourself failures and setbacks. Know that success does not come easy and it certainly does not come at every step of life. After going through the above-mentioned steps, we hope we have helped instill in you some sense of self-determination based upon your strengths and weaknesses.