People are like macaroons, there are millions of different combinations of characteristics that make up different personalities, just like macaroons have millions of different flavors and fillings. A year ago, I was in a leadership class (BUS 486) where we explored the concept of strengths based leadership. I took an assessment on Strengths Finder and it changed my life. In strengths finder, there are 5 top strengths chosen from 34 talents, which means there are 278, 256 distinct combinations! Finding out your strengths can ignite your inner talent and help you align with potential career paths that will increase your job satisfaction. I found that my top five strengths were: Strategic, Activator, Arranger, Communication, and Empathy. I was very surprised to find out that communication is one of my strengths. Shortly after this discovery, I was praised for my exceptional telephone conversational skills, which reconfirmed my talents. I was also promoted to a different position that let me practice and hone my skills. When you focus on being good at just one thing, people notice. The good thing is that you can do this too by using these three simple steps:
1. Past Experiences
What do your employers, teachers, or volunteer leaders say about you? When you received praise for something you did, did it resonate with who you are? What makes you excited to get up in the morning? What makes you happy to have accomplished?
For example, while I was answering a phone call at work, a co-owner of the business complimented me on the way I answered the call. He explained that the soothing tone of my voice reassures the party on the other line and the words I chose were polite and clear. He even mentioned that I should be an example for the rest of the office when answering calls! Feedback is a valuable way to understand your strengths. Although I did not prompt it in this case, it is important to obtain it, even if it means asking for feedback from those you identify as leaders.
2. Family & Friends
What do your friends and family say about you? Are you patient, and caring, or resilient and daring? We can be our own worst critic, while our family and friends can be the kindest. Take advantage of this by asking them questions to understand your strengths better. A conversation starter could be, “I’m looking to find out what my talents are, I know we’ve been friends for a long time and your help would be invaluable to understanding myself better.” Some example of questions to ask might be “what are my strengths?” Instead of asking a series of different questions, start with this one and ask for your friend to elaborate on points to gather an in-depth understanding of what your core talents are.
What is something you truly enjoy doing the most? Is there a particular reason why you like doing it? Ever since I was in elementary school, I’ve always loved to meet people from different countries. One time, my grade 3 teacher came to the hall to tell me to quiet down because I was having such an in-depth conversation with a friend! My inner curiosity makes me wonder about different cultures and ask lots of questions. Overtime, I’ve become a friendly and approachable person which helped me to realize that one of my talents is in communication.
Asking yourself these questions will help you with your self discovery. It is likely that those characteristics will lead you to find your unique talent. As Bruce Lee said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Be the best version of yourself by leveraging your strengths and defining your unique talent.
Which type of macaroon are you? The light fluffy pistachio green color with a hint of yellow, or a bright bluish turquoise with a soft touch of chocolate goodness? The choice is yours. Get started with your self-reflection with this comprehensive list of the 34 defined strengths. Find your gift, and share it with the world because no one else shares the exact same strengths as you. You are the one and only unique version of yourself!