Exploit your strengths, push to discomfort.
I was confused on my journey to discover my strengths.
Maybe it had to do with those two ridiculous interview questions: What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?
As I would stare at the interviewer, I'd describe something already listed on the job description (”I’m great with people.”). Then with some twisted reverse psychology I'd describe some irrelevant characteristic like ”I work too hard.”
As humorous as that is, it doesn’t do me any good in my pursuit to find purpose and impact.
In fact I think we can get confused with the idea of strengths, confusing them solely with abilities that come easy to us. That’s a limited view that does more to create frustration and disappointment.
Instead, let’s look to Marcus Buckingham’s four clear signs of strength:
- Success — This is effectiveness in the activity you are doing.
- Instincts — Find those things that you instinctively look forward to, and capitalize on them.
- Growth — You're growing when you can concentrate on an activity, and time just flies by.
- Needs — Some activities might make you tired, but they fulfill you.
I can tell you from experience that it took years of experimenting to hone in on my strengths, but once I began to understand them, I could offer them whenever possible.
Discovering your strengths/your greatest contribution is exhilarating. It’s like uncovering hidden treasure. We discover something about ourselves that we’ve always had a hunch was there. The problem is stopping here. Discovering your strengths is not discovering your purpose, but it is a step on the way their.
Once you discover your strengths, you’re next step is to lean in. Offer that strength whenever possible. Offer it on small projects, offer it on large ones. If you do it better than anyone else, with proven results, put those skills to good work. [Read more]
The secret to finding your purpose is hidden in discomfort. The danger of discovering your strengths is the huge temptation to stay safe, to only do things you know you’re good at. You box yourself just to stay safe.
Instead, push yourself to the edge of your skill set. If you’re using your strengths, but are at the edge of your ability, you’re in just the right spot.
Ask for new responsibility, talk to that person you feel intimidated to talk to (could be a neighbor or someone you look up to).
Just make sure to exploit your strengths & push to discomfort. You never know what God might want to do through you.