“At the end of the day, who you are, what you do, and how you show up in the world is special and unique. When you think big, show up bold, and share your uniqueness, you become a role model for all of us.” Deepak Chopra & Tris Thorp, The Chopra Center
During the holiday season and the last month of the year when gifts are abundant, I’d like to focus on a different type of gift. It’s the one that makes each of us who we are.
Gifts are what we are born with, the individual strengths in each of us. A lot of people confuse talent with gifts. While everyone may be talented at something, there are different levels of talent that can be learned throughout your personal and professional life. Your gifts are unique to you—and what makes you so unique.
In order to discover them, ask yourself the following questions:
- What am I really good at with little effort?
- What do people associate with me? In other words, what am I known for by my family, friends, and co-workers?
- Have I truly connected with others using my gifts?
It’s important to realize what our gifts and strengths are so that we can use them to our full potential. Discover your strengths by doing the following:
- Think about what you love to do. What makes you happy? What feels most natural to you?
- Identify what you don’t like doing. What makes you cringe?
- Ask yourself if you didn’t get paid, would you still do it (this comes into play sometimes with our careers). Sometimes parts of our job functions are not our favorite while others are, and that’s okay. Taking the StrengthsFinder2.0 assessment, for example, will help develop your signature gifts. Once you’ve fully discovered these gifts, you can begin to leverage them and personally and professionally make an impact on the people and the world around you. You may also use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or look at one you completed previously to see what those indicators are. Use these to guide you toward what you like to do and what you feel best at doing.
- Reflect on where your gifts/strengths lie and who you can serve/what you can do to best put these into action.
- Focus on your strengths and not weaknesses. Focus on what makes you better by using your knowledge, skills, practice, and passion to help further develop the strengths you already possess. And don’t be afraid to ask for help and guidance along the way.
Passion is essential to further develop the strengths we already possess. Why not focus on those you’re most passionate about? You can change a life by focusing on your gifts and using them every day. I find this quote by Tom Rath fascinating. He says that “People who have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged in their job and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life.”
As mentioned in the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book, the old mantra “you can be anything you want to be if you just try hard enough” is misguided. We need to quit taking this path and focus on our own talents. Instead, let’s think about the restated mantra: “You cannot be anything you want to be but you can be a lot more of who you already are.”
For those of you who have children, grandchildren, or who are mentoring young kids in school: this not only applies to the workplace, but at home, especially with a focus on grades. Why do we focus on the worst grade rather than in the areas where students excel? Things are much easier if we step back, assess our gifts and strengths, and then move forward to be the best person we were meant to be.
It will take some readjusting to align our minds to this new way of thinking. What will you do to begin this journey to own this process starting now? How will you apply your special gifts and strengths in your life? If you have already identified your gifts and strengths and are using them to reach your full potential, please reach out to me. I want to hear about your journey!
SMPS President Melissa Lutz, FSMPS, CPSM, is principal of Champlin Architecture in Ohio. She can be reached at email@example.com.