What am I good at?
If you’re anything like me, you find yourself asking yourself question a lot, as you figure out how to find strengths at work.
As a self-employed person, every time I have a setback or have a project turn out differently than how I saw it going in my mind, I’m forced to re-examine what I’m doing and the direction that I’m going with my career.
Just last week I had a client complain that something I did wasn’t quite up to par, even though I thought I had turned in solid work.
Whenever that happens, it makes me think if I’m really as good as I think I am at doing certain things and whether or not I’m really working to my strengths.
Look, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that one way to find success is to play to your strengths.
This can be applied to any job in any field, whether you’re a lowly writer like me, the head of a startup, the manager of a large corporation, or the quarterback of an NFL team.
But figuring out what are your strengths and weaknesses is not as easy as one would think.
1/3 of employees believed their manager could identify their best strengths in the workplace
A survey conducted last year found that roughly one-third of employees believed their manager could identify their best strengths in the workplace.
This leaves two-thirds of the workforce without a boss who could help them focus on their strengths, which is a rather high number if you ask me.
Of the group that did not have proper guidance from their boss, only half were able to identify their strengths on their own and only a quarter of them actually felt engaged and happy with their work.
This seems like a problem to me.
How are people like you and me supposed to forge successful and satisfying careers when figuring out where our strengths lay is so difficult?
Some people may look for fast answers and a quick fix by attempting a free strengths finder assessment that they find on the Internet, but I’ve found those to be disingenuous and more for entertainment purposes than an actual strengths finder.
A real search for your strengths and weaknesses will be far more personal.
It’s not something that can be done in a few minutes or just by answering a few questions. In fact, you may have to do some serious digging to find them.
Luckily, I’ve managed to put together these eight methods for how to find strengths at work.
Hopefully, one or more of them will be your key to helping you work to your strengths better in the future.
1. Find Your Energy
One method on how to find strengths at work is to take notice of the time when you are most energized.
What are you doing when you feel the most excited and engaged with your work? Believe it or not, there’s actually a little bit of science to this.
When you’re doing something that makes you excited and fills you with energy, your pupils will dilate, you will start to speak at a faster pace, and you will actually open your arms wider instead of keeping them close to your body and appearing closed off.
These are all signs that you’re excited to do something and that you will bring a strong effort to that task or activity.
If you’re able to notice these signs in yourself, you may have just found one of your strengths.
In the event you don’t notice any of these signs in yourself, ask the people around you if they ever notice you acting a differently; they may be able to point you in the direction of your true strengths.
When you’re doing something that makes you excited and fills you with energy
2. Stay Focused on Yourself
Looking for your strengths at work is one of the few times when it’s okay to act a little selfishly.
Stop worrying about other people and focus on yourself for a little while.
Trying to figure out what other people are good at or asking others about their strengths is not going to help you.
You don’t want to copy other people, because your strengths are going to be different from their strengths.
Remember that your strengths are going to be unique to you, so block out the rest of the world for a little bit and look inward to help you find your strengths.
Stop worrying about other people and focus on yourself
3. Ask Around
Just because you don’t want to model yourself after others to find your strengths doesn’t mean you can consult other people.
Don’t be afraid to ask the people around you what they think are your best strengths; you may be surprised by what they say.
Personally, I’m always surprised when people I’ve recently met let me know what stands out about me, because it’s never what I expect them to say.
It may sound weird to hear, but other people can often be quite insightful when it comes to recognizing the things you do well.
Even people you don’t know very well may be able to pick out something about you that you may not even realize yourself.
Don’t be afraid to ask the people around you what they think are your best strengths
4. Find What Makes You Special
Your mother wasn’t lying to you when you were growing up, you are special, you just have to find the thing that makes you special.
To do that, you may have to find some time to yourself.
See if there are any projects at work you can work on alone, which will give you a chance to try on several hats and see if any of them are a perfect fit.
It may also be helpful to take a vacation from work and take some time for yourself that way.
When you come back, you can see what you missed while you were away, as well as what the company may have been lacking while you were gone.
You are special, you just have to find the thing that makes you special
5. Describe Yourself With New Words
Finding your strengths is going to require some outside-the-box thinking, as you need to find new ways to think about yourself.
Sit down and think of words to describe yourself that you’ve never used before.
Forget about the old cliches like “hard-working” and “loyal.” Those words are great, but they’re just going to get you right back where you started.
Really think hard about yourself and come up with something new; it may lead you on the right path towards finding your strengths.
This is another instance in which it’s okay to ask others for help; they may be able to shed some light on the matter.
Really think hard about yourself and come up with something new
6. Read and Explore
Sometimes finding your strengths requires trying new things, so do just that.
Take some time away from the office, perhaps even take a vacation, and try doing different things to see if anything strikes you as particularly interesting or challenging, something that can create that energy and excitement within you that I mentioned earlier.
While you’re away from work, take time to do some reading.
Read magazine and newspaper articles about unfamiliar topics to see if anything piques your interest and could possibly lead you to your strengths.
It may also help to read through old emails and intra-office memos; these could have clues as to what your strengths and weaknesses at work may be.
It may also help to read through old emails and intra-office memo
7. Test Your (Alleged) Strengths
When you think you’ve found something, test it out.
You’ll never know if you don’t try, so ask for an assignment or start a project at work that’s going to test your (alleged) strength.
If it turns out not to be, that’s fine, but you have to know for sure, and the sooner you find out if something is actually a strength or not, the better.
The sooner you find out if something is actually a strength or not, the better
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
This goes right along with testing your potential strengths; you can’t be afraid to fail at something.
If you’re lucky enough to find something that gets you excited, give it a try without being afraid of failing at it.
Even if you just end up with a long list of weaknesses and failures, you will still be closer to finding your strengths because you will have eliminated so many things.
Remember, the more you know, the better off you’ll be, because every piece of information you gather brings you closer to discovering your strengths.
Every piece of information you gather brings you closer to discovering your strengths
Conclusions On How To Find Strengths At Work
Clearly, the process of how to find strengths at work is not going to be quick or easy. It’s going to take a great deal of inward thought and reflection, as well as plenty of outside help.
But it’s important that you put in the effort to find your strengths, as it’ll be key to achieving a healthy and happy professional life.
For instance, here at CakeHR, we know our strength is in the software we provide that can help companies manage their human resources division.
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Bryan Zarpentine is a freelance writer and editor with credentials all over the Internet, primarily at CakeHR, where he is a regular contributor. He is interested in researching and writing about a diverse array of topics and providing a unique perspective on the world.
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