Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Using your strengths as a springboard

If you’ve ever been in an interview before, you know that the question is coming. You wait for it. You read a few tips and some articles. You know exactly how you’re going to respond. “So what would you say are your strengths?” Of course after smiling you answer. But what does it all really mean? Were you really even telling the truth? Were you connecting with what you were saying or telling them what they wanted to hear?

OK, that’s a lot of questions. So strike all of that. What I’m really asking is do you know what your strengths really are? Forget about the interview for a second. Think about the strengths that you hold in your heart. I’m not just talking about what you do well, because those things may drain you entirely. You can be amazing at something you hate. I’m talking about the things that you do that help feed you. Maybe you’re not even good at it yet, but when you do it your heart starts to open. It’s those moments when you feel most alive. What are those things in your life?

I just finished reading a book, “The Truth About You: Your Secret to Success”. One of the exercises starts with a simple prompt: “I feel strong when …” If you have a chance this week, pull out a note pad and pencil. Carry it around with you. When you do something that makes you feel strong, write it down.

For example: I feel strong when I help people to embrace their true talent…OR I feel strong when I experience something that opens my mind…

As you write, start to notice the pattern. What do you gravitate to? How could these strengths find a place in your life: your work, your personal relationships, the things that you do to wind down? Think about the thematic qualities. Maybe you absolutely love helping people – maybe a specific group or type of people. Maybe you love sharing a particular story or lesson you’ve learned. Maybe you love creating new things – meeting new people. Maybe you love diversity and change in your life. Use what you see as a springboard. What can you do (or where could you go) for these strengths to show up? How could this change how you’re living? Sometimes we feel like we know where we’re going, until we unveil what our strengths really are.

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