It’s funny, but quite often in life we know more about the strengths, weaknesses, features, bugs and user manual of our Smartphones than we do our own body and mind. 😬
Perhaps it’s this perception that we’ve worked out all there is to know about humans across the millions of years of our existence, and as such we feel more compelled to learn about new things. Operating as a human is a given, right?
Well, as part of my ongoing journey of realising my full potential and value to the world, I’ve realised just how naive I am to how my body (and mind) works, what it needs, and what makes me ME. How can that be?
The Dunning-Kruger Effect above describes the reality of our false–confidence perfectly. It takes curiosity and a willingness to be vulnerable and transparent to exposes the gap between our knowledge and reality.
As part of the #BeYourBest Self-Optimisation Journey, developing your mindset is critical priority to creating change in any aspect of your life. To show up and be more – for you and others around you, there must be a commitment to ongoing growth and to realise your full potential.
But, then comes the questions of “what am I supposed to do?”, “what’s the purpose of MY life?”, and “what are my unique gifts?”. I know I’ve asked these questions and more, in an attempt to align my effort, focus and energy towards things that I CAN do, WANT to do, and bring the greatest REWARD to me and others.
Better To Know Strengths Or Weaknesses?
In all fairness, I think you should know both.
Why? Well, if for example you know you are great at Problem Solving but really struggle to Communicate your solution to others, it would be great to find a role that leverages your strengths and accommodates for your weakness by pairing up with a strong supportive communicator.
If you know your Strengths, you can find roles and make life decisions that have a strong demand for your strengths. This will make you more successful, the work will be more enjoyable, and you will continue to develop your Strengths.
On the other hand, for example, if you were doing a job that expects you to Cold Call and document your actions on a system all day, and you’re not comfortable with influencing, disturbing others, handling rejection or doing detailed admin, then you’ll not enjoy the work, and will likely not be that good.
That said, your weaknesses can be pretty obvious through time. You know what things you don’t have a natural ability to do. Perhaps you could practice said skill to get better at it, but if it’s not a talent or natural competency, at best you will be good. Not great.
Instead, by focussing on your Strengths, or more specifically Talents, you would get insights into what is uniquely great about you that more not be obvious. By working within your talents and strengthening them, you have the potential for greatness. Oh, and LOTS of enjoyment!
At 37 years old, I can reflect on my work and life to date, and say the last 5-7 years have been the most rewarding on so many levels. Why? Because I naturally and instinctively gravitated to work and activities that matched my talents. Call it luck, instinct, or having good managers – but working within my Talents has been so liberating!
The issue though, has been that I didn’t actually know what my Talents were! Sure, I could kinda offer a sense of what I am good at, but there is a big difference between being good at a Job/Activity and describing your Talents which if leveraged could create greatness…
Measuring Your Strengths
Whilst there are many ways of having your Strengths, Weaknesses, Preferences, Values and Personality assessed, I’ve found that the Gallup CliftonStrengths online assessment to be effective, easy and incredibly accurate.
It’s an online Psychometric Assessment tool that has 177 questions-answer pairs and takes about 30mins to complete. You have to instinctively answer where you sit between two possible answers on a sliding scale within 20 seconds. It’s been taken by 19.5 million people to date and changed many lives.
It’s also cheap and hassle-free. For $20 you can complete the CliftonStrengths assessment and get immediate results of your Top 5 Talents. Of for $50 you can get access to your full 34 Strengths report and insights.
The service comes with a number of resources and a uniquely written description of your strengths, based on your answers. We can read up more detail on your strengths, watch videos and check out their suggested Action Plan.
Alternatively, you can connect with their accredited Strength and Talent Coaches that can help you take this information combined with their coaching practice and accelerate your understanding our progress. Kevin Thiele is one of these coaches, and is the founder fo salescode.co.uk. Kevin, a friend of AdapNation, helped me with a live readout of my strengths on the AdapNation Podcast, Episode #42.
Steve’s Talents & Strength Themes
I must say, these results REALLY struck a chord with me. They were spookily accurate and I could relate to them perfectly. To hear my reaction these these Talents and exploring how they match with my personality, check out Podcast #42 where I talk through my results with Kevin Thiele live.
Below you have my top Strength Themes. Otherwise known as my Top 5 Talents.
My Top 5 Talents
There are 34 Talents in total that Gallup assess, which can be broken down into four categories:
- STRATEGIC THINKING (red)
- INFLUENCING (yellow)
- RELATIONSHIP BUILDING (blue)
- EXECUTING (purple)
Within my Top 5, you’ll see they are ALL Strategic Thinking related, with the one ‘joker in the pack’ being Achiever, which is part of the Executing Theme.
This blend makes me well suited to learning all there is to know about a discipline, strategising on how to best leverage the acquired knowledge to solve problems, and be able to describe and motivate action towards an exciting future state and vision. Oh, and I ask LOTS of questions!
And luckily, if it weren’t for ‘Achiever‘ – my action-oriented ‘get shit done’ mentality, I would be stuck in ‘paralysis by analysis’, due to being in my head A LOT!
My work over the last 7+ years have leveraged these skills pretty well – selling expensive complex IT solutions to complex businesses that expect excellence, knowledge and high consultative value.
However, you my ask ‘where are my relationship building’ and ‘influencing’ skills needed to be a good salesman and businessman? I asked the same question… as I know I can sell. Or, maybe I can sell ONLY when I leverage my primary talents… 🤔
And, this thirst for knowledge, wishing to strategise how to best use that knowledge and being optimistic and descriptive of a better future plays PERFECTLY into my objective and mission at AdapNation! That is, ONLY because I also have a strong self-drive to execute too. Phew! 😅
My Full 34 Strengths Report
This DNA-Like diagram helps you see my Top 5 Talents and full list of strengths (and implied weaknesses) colour coded by theme, which is pretty cool
As you can see, I’m a thinker! Relationship building Talents are disproportionately at the backend, which matches my self-awareness of being an Introvert and comfortable with my own company.
Executing & Influencing Themes are represented higher up in my talents, which again makes sense to me. Especially when you read the full text associated to the Strengths.
This is fascinating to read and better understand yourself! You tend to read your Top 10 and shift your focus to your bottom few (aka your Non-Strengths or Weaknesses).
And I have to agree with my Weaknesses. I have low Empathy (not to be mistaken with care) and tend to give a lot of tough love. I am not a ‘go with the flow’ kinda guy. I am NOT conflict avoidant – i.e. I will not seek to create harmony if I believe something needs to be brought up.
And whilst I am not proud of it, I can get frustrated when people I am working with are not stepping up to the plate – as in I will not go out of my way to include those who are not able to advance the cause.
Trying to Fit A Square Peg In A Round Hole
No one likes criticism. To know you are not good at something.
I’ve got better at handling critique with age. I’ve actually learned to embrace it, in an approach called Confident Vulnerability. That said, it still sucks to know you have weaknesses, especially those related to connecting with people.
So what do you do? Double down and try and develop those areas of your life? Commit lots of time and energy to make you more ‘well rounded’ and balanced?
You could. I guess. For me, I’d go from being pretty useless at Harmonising to less useless. Or at best, I’d be good. But at what cost?
What about if I instead accepted my weaknesses for what they were, and doubled down on further developing my strengths linked to my innate Talents? Could I go from good to great, to amazing?
For me, I’d rather do the latter! Not ignore my ‘areas of development’ but not expect to ‘cure’ myself. Instead, I think it’s best to get coaching from someone who has those Talents, so I don’t do anything stupid.
Better still, what about if I could work with that person(s) to help balance my skills in work, and perhaps even in life. Oooh, that would be cool!…
And If By Magic… meet my Yin
Turns out, that the woman I chose to spend the rest of my life with when I was 17 years old, is literally my opposite. She is the Yin to my Yang! You know what they say – Opposites Attract.
Admittedly, Michelle and I have always known we are different. But only once we both took the CliftonStrengths Assessment could we say exactly how, and more importantly, WHY these differences were so beneficial.
Even better, we’ve been able to appreciate our differences for what they are – different Talents. As opposed to one of us being good at XYZ, and the other person falling short of our standards, we now cut each other some slack. We know it doesn’t come natural for Michelle to have a vision for the future, or for me to do inclusive chit-chat on our online community.
I can have low social IQ and be all in my head, and Michelle can worry about the future and not be able to organise complex projects without freaking out. Perhaps an issue in isolation, but together…
This is called the Power of Two! I’m SOOOO LUCKY. 😊
Follow this and other topic areas in our longer-form Articles series as they unfold, as well as the AdapNation Food Diary for healthy meal inspiration and AdapNation’s #HyperWorkouts for free training plans. Comment if you have questions or ideas.