By Claire Emerson
You already have everything within you that you need to create an exceptional life. ~ Dan Sullivan
As humans, we have a tendency to undervalue ourselves. It’s not because we don’t offer anything valuable to the world, it’s just that we’re blind to what makes us great.
Take for instance a simple job interview. Have you ever been stumped by the “What’s your greatest strength” question?
Maybe you rattled off some generic answer like “I’m a multitasker” or a “people person.” Maybe you just sat there with sweaty palms and a blank stare.
Either way, it probably wasn’t the awe-inspiring response you wanted to give.
Now, there is no doubt that you are amazing at something. But it’s highly likely that you’ve got your self-sabotaging blinders on and can’t see what it is.
Our blinders make it tough to communicate our value to anyone else. If we don’t know our strengths, how can we possibly exploit them to our advantage?
- Are you a master at building relationships?
- Are you an excellent motivator who inspires action?
- Maybe you’re observant, highly organised and naturally strategic?
All of these are desirable strengths, yet often, even if we know we possess them, we don’t acknowledge their significance because they come so easily to us.
We underestimate their worth and brush them off as unimportant. But there’s no doubt they are important.
When you can confidently articulate what you bring to the table and how it can benefit any situation, it leads to a powerful transformation in your personal identity and sense of self-worth.
Whether it’s to start a business, make your next career move, or create a stronger family unit, you’ll be able to present the best version of you in every scenario.
By digging deeper into your strengths, you can unlock the door to a whole new world of opportunity. But first you’ve got to uncover what is it about you that makes you both different, and better.
How One Person’s Phenomenal Strength Is Another’s Epic Weakness
Let’s take a look at Iron Man and Captain America. Two completely different characters but both remarkable in their own way.
Iron Man is insanely smart, great with tech and very logical. But he lacks the compassion, kindness, and forward thinking of Captain America.
Making fancy gadgets (and deadly weapons) isn’t Captain America’s thing. But keeping a level head, staying true to his moral code, and finding solutions that create win-win situations, is.
Both characters are awesome but very different. And you’ll notice, they always play to their strengths.
Take this snippet from one of the Avengers movies.
- [Stark suits up to chase Thor and Loki]
Captain America: Stark, we need a plan of attack!
Iron Man: I have a plan: attack!
Can you see the glaring difference between the characters in that small verbal exchange? In under six words each, they’ve revealed exactly what makes them unique.
Iron Man likes to respond immediately. He’s a quick thinker, spontaneous and just wants to get it done. He’s a natural doer.
Captain America, on the other hand, likes to be prepared. To map out how it will all go down. He wants a plan. He’s a natural strategist.
That’s just how the world works (whether it’s the Marvel Universe or for us mere earthlings). We are all uniquely gifted.
And to win at life, we need to draw on those gifts — our personal power — every chance we get. Here’s how to make that happen.
5 Ways to Expose and Leverage Your Unique Advantage
If you focus on your strengths (and learn to ignore your weaknesses), you will make faster progress towards your goals.
By uncovering what you’re good at and what causes you to take action, you’ll be able to intentionally create a career and lifestyle around the things that you enjoy and that challenge you in a positive way.
You’ll know precisely what excites you and what gives you the energy to get things done.
You’ll be empowered to make the moves you want, to take the big risks you used to fear, and continually work to amplify your strengths so that their value (and your bank account) only increases.
But your unique talents aren’t always as obvious to you as you might like. So, to make it easy for you, here are five ways that you can expose and exploit your natural advantage today.
1. These 21 Questions Will Spark Surprising Self-Discovery
A straightforward and practical way to begin teasing out your natural talents is to dive head first into some honest self-evaluation.
Grab a coffee, a donut, a pen and some paper.
Sit somewhere that is away from your regular ‘workspace’. The aim is not to make it feel like work.
Set a timer for 50 minutes and remove all distractions from view (yes, your phone too).
Spend the time answering these 21 questions:
- What are you good at?
- What comes easily to you?
- What do you learn quickly?
- What subjects do you most enjoy studying?
- What things give you energy?
- Describe a successful day you have had.
- When did you achieve something you were really proud of?
- Do you prefer to start tasks or to finish them?
- Do you find you have enough hours in the day to complete all the things you want to do?
- What are the things that are always left on your to-do list and not finished? These are most likely weaknesses.
- What tasks do you enjoy doing the least? (also things you should avoid).
- What would your colleagues or networking circles say you were good at doing?
- What would your family and friends say you were good at doing?
- What do people come to you for advice about?
- What are the things in your life that help you stay strong?
- What do you value about yourself?
- What do you think helps you bounce back in tough times?
- How have you faced/overcome the challenges you have had?
- If you had the opportunity what would you like to teach others?
- How would you describe the strengths, skills, and resources you have in your life?
- When now, or in the past, have you felt like you are making a difference, making a contribution? How did you make this happen?
Take some time to review your answers and see if you can find any patterns. Is there anything that stands out?
Maybe there’s something you wouldn’t have thought to be a strength, but now you see that it might be? How could you improve your life by utilizing one of the strengths listed?
2. Get A Freakishly Accurate Description Of Who You Are
Self-evaluation can get the ball rolling, but it’s not always enough.
Sometimes you need a little outside help to take off your blinders and see yourself for who you are (and can be).
Understanding yourself better at a fundamental level will do wonders for boosting your confidence and achieving heightened self-awareness.
One of the easiest and fastest ways to start peeling back the layers of your genius is to take the Myers-Briggs personality test. It’s not going to solve all your problems, but it will give you a detailed and accurate description of who you are and why you do what you do.
If you’ve never done the test before, the results will likely blow your mind. It feels amazing to be so understood, and this test will nail your personality type to a tee, all in under 12 minutes.
The site will also spit out a highly-valuable (and free) report so you can start experimenting with your newfound self-knowledge out in the real world.
3. Discover Your Winning Difference And How You Fascinate
Your hidden talents, your highest worth, your unrealized potential – the best parts of you might not have been obvious to you before. But now they can be. And with that knowledge, you can use your Fascination Advantages to grow your life, your team and your career. ~ Sally Hogshead
I came across Sally Hogshead and her Fascination Advantage test about a year ago when I was scrolling through the Copyblogger archives. It was during a time where I was trying to build out a brand for my business and uncover why anybody would ever want to work with me or take my advice.
It’s the first personality test that measures how others perceive you at your best and how you can use your most powerful traits to make a better first impression. These 28 questions will help you discover your most valuable assets.
It doesn’t take long, and you get a downloadable report that helps you utilise your advantage in both your professional and personal life.
4. Find Out What Makes You Take Action
Have you ever heard of the Kolbe A Index test?
It’s certainly not as common as the Myers-Briggs, but it is undoubtedly the most eye-opening psychometric test I’ve ever taken. It changed my life.
I was able to build my entire business around the epiphany I had from my results, and my husband was able to get multiple promotions from the understanding he got from his.
It isn’t magic; it’s just mind-blowingly powerful.
The Kolbe Index is unique. It does not measure intelligence, personality or social style. It measures the instinctive ways you take action when you strive. – Kathy Kolbe
The Kolbe A Index measures your instinctive way of doing things, and the result is called your M.O. (method of operation). It is the only validated assessment that measures a person’s conative strengths; which is the why behind what you do.
It gives you a greater understanding of your human nature and allows you to begin the process of maximizing your potential both personally and professionally.
The Kolbe A Index is not free, but it is well worth the small investment. You can take the Kolbe A Index test here.
5. Ask Your People.
Last but not least is the simple act of asking someone else what they think. The task is to write an email to the people you know (that like you) and ask them what they think your natural talents and abilities are.
It might seem like an uncomfortable email to write, but if you’re serious about exposing your natural advantage and learning how you can create a better life by working in alignment with your unique abilities, then you’ll need to be okay with getting a little uncomfortable.
To make it easy for you, use this short and sweet template for sending the initial enquiry to your list:
- Hey (friend, family member, colleague, etc.).
I’m currently on a self-improvement kick, and I’m hoping you can help me out with something. What I’m trying to uncover is my natural advantage, and am looking for some help to tease it out.
If you’re willing to help, I’d love for you to answer the following question:
What do you see as my unique ability?
Your answer can include any of the following; my talents and skills, characteristics that describe me, what I’m good at, how I do things, what you count on me for, and any other distinguishing features you see, about who I am.
Would love to hear what you think!
Be brave, send it out and see what happens. I think you’ll be surprised at what comes back.
Now that you have five ways you can expose your natural talents, how do you leverage them to your advantage? Well, that’s really up to you.
- You’ll find that once you know what they are, that it’s quite easy to call on them in all areas of your life.
- You’ll get better at communicating your value because you’ll be confident in what it is.
- You’ll become a better leader because you’ll understand how you can help.
- You’ll improve your relationships because you’ll know your natural tendencies, traits and responses and avoid the things that frustrate you and cause conflict.
- You’ll be more productive, more efficient and more useful because you’ll know what makes you tick and what lights a fire under your ass to get things done.
There are endless ways to exploit your strengths once you know what they are and make the commitment to amplify them. Too often we dwell on the things we aren’t good at and end up losing focus of what makes us great and never get the results we desire.
But when you choose to expose what makes you marvellous and exploit that to your full advantage, it can take your life to an epic next level.
I urge you to try one of the five suggestions above and see what self-discoveries you can make today, to live a more enjoyable and effective life in the future.
Feel free to share your results with me over on Twitter. I’d love to see what you come up with!