Today I spent some time taking the Strengthfinder 2.0 assessment, and without being too surprised, I found Weights for Strengthout what my top 5 strengths were (according to this assessment). I agree with all of them, but now I’m in that weird spot of figuring out exactly what to do with them.

But like I said, none of these were too surprising.  But I’m lucky.  I work in a field where self analysis and open communication about “styles” is expected. It has helped me become incredibly self aware at both home and work, which has only aided in my success.

What if you haven’t had the opportunity, either through an external assessment or internal self reflection, to really figure out what talents are hidden beneath the surface of your personality? How can we accept and capitalize on those things we are naturally good at, as well as acknowledging those little things that aren’t easy for us?

I’ll start with the outcome, because that makes more sense to me.

What benefits can come from learning, and then accepting those awesome and not-so-awesome traits about ourselves?

You Can Be at Peace Inside

Have you beat yourself up about a project at work or home that you can’t motivate to do?  Maybe you spend all your free time on something that isn’t what you are “supposed” to be doing.  Learning what really motivates or drains your energy will explain a lot to yourself.  You might be able to finally accept your love for certain things and hatred of others.  I used to often knock my love of speaking in front of a group.  I used to think it meant that I needed attention and was self-indulgent. After learning more, I have accepted that not only is something I’m naturally good at doing, it’s actually a strength that energizes and motivates me.  It’s extremely freeing to accept those little quirks about yourself; you can then use them to drive you forward, instead of wonder why you gravitate toward them.

You Will Understand the Root of Satisfaction AND Frustration

I think every strength has an evil twin hiding out in the background. For example, I can make fast decisions and move a project forward instantly (strength), but can get extremely exhausted by analyzing decisions, details, or projects without moving them forward (evil twin).  When I am put in the analyzing situation over and over, I can literally start to feel my blood pressure rising or my soul seeping out my body.  If I didn’t know that these were things that naturally worked against my personality or style, I would just feel inadequate in these areas. Instead, I know these situations are tough for me (because of the evil twin).  Using that knowledge, I can plan in advance, avoid these situations, or find a way to contribute in a way that works for me.

Maybe you are in a job that feels like it’s sucking your soul, and you just can’t find the root of the struggle.  If you take some time to analyze your strengths or talents, you might find that your job takes advantage of NONE of them.  This could mean that every day at work is much harder and draining than it should be.  If you are able to work at a job or on projects that employ your strengths, your energy level would jump and your personal satisfaction would skyrocket. This, my friends, has been proven over and over in research.

You Can Take it to the Next Level

The minute you have an external source (book, website, assessment, co-worker, etc.) share your real talents and strengths with you, it validates some internal questions we have had inside for a long time.  With my speaking example earlier:  For years I have thought, “I would love a job where other people just paid me to speak all the time!” But that was a silly idea. Funny thing- the minute I read an assessment that validated it was a talent of mine, it launched my desire to an entirely new level. I thought, “Well, hell, if I like this idea, I’ve had years of experience with it, AND it’s a natural talent of mine… let’s DO this!”

You might learn something you already know, and some things you didn’t know.  What in the world could be the harm in getting some validation about things you are already good at?  The realization might open doors at work or at home—doors you never even knew were there. Take a chance on finding out where you can excel in this stage of your life.

I am kind of a preacher of self-awareness.

I believe that almost all of our success and failures can often be rooted in the concept of self-awareness.  Knowing what you are good at is just one piece—the most awesome piece.

If you have NOT been able to assess your strengths, here are some tools I would recommend:

  1. Journaling: Take some time to answer some tough questions of yourself: “What gets me excited and energizes me about work/home/this project/etc? Why?” “What do I dread doing every day?  Why?” “What do I love/hate about my job?” Once you start asking those questions and writing them out, start looking for common threads.  Those common threads are telling you something.  The hardest part of about this technique is that you have to be 100% honest with the goods and bads of yourself.  Without being honest internally, you aren’t going to get anywhere.  Take an external assessment if this is difficult for you – it is hard for most of us.
  2. Strenthsfinder 2.0 (Tom Rath)This is a website, book, and online self-assessment.  It focuses solely on your strengths and how to capitalize on them. It’s fun and useful-I’m excited to implement what I learned from mine.  You can buy the book and get an access code, or purchase the assessment online without the book as backing. (It’s also managed by Gallup Organization- they are a great organization.)
  3. Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): This assessment is focused on personality and how we receive, process, and interact with our surrounding world. There are 16 personality traits, each one a combination of 4 different preferences that are unique to you. This one is a really good one for self awareness as a whole- especially if you don’t want to focus only on work situations. There are variety of free (yet unverified) assessments online, but you’ll have to search for those on your own.
  4. Enneagram:  I am least familiar with this assessment, but I’ve had people swear that it’s amazing for relationships, parent/child interactions, and for personal reflection and assessment. It designates all of us into one of 9 types, and how this type can determine our interactions with others and our environment. (If anyone has more experience with this, I would LOVE your feedback in the comments section!)
  5. ANY other assessment:  You might have heard of one (DiSC, Emergenetics, etc.), have a friend that can coach you through one, or find something inspiring online that interests you.  Do it!  Try something out and see what you think.  From my experience, you do get what you pay for, so be a tad wary of the validity of anything that is 100% free or super easy.  But try something…anything to start!

Does anyone else have any awesome personal or work assessments they have used?  We would love to know what you recommend and why in the comments section.

Cheers to moving forward with strength in 2015.  I’ll back you 100%.