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I read a great quote during an online training course on personal leadership recently:

“Only when you operate from a combination of your strengths and self-knowledge can you achieve true – and lasting – excellence.” Peter Drucker

The course itself was hugely insightful, especially the piece about finding your strengths, so I wanted to share what I learned.

Successful people know their strengths and focus on these areas, but your strengths are not necessarily the things you are good at, they are the things that give you strength. Likewise, your weaknesses are not classified as the tasks you dislike, they are the elements that deplete your energy.

Finding your strengths is your greatest area for opportunity in your personal development, whether you are looking to become a specialist in your field or a great leader. The first challenge is to claim your strengths by recognizing what gives you energy.

Think about what makes you unique. What have been your greatest achievements? What do you like about yourself and what activities make you feel energized? This self-reflection exercise will help you look inside yourself. Write the answers to these questions down, and find your strengths within this list. Once you have identified your strengths, ask others what they feel your strengths are. Sometimes it is hard to self-analyze ourselves, and another person may see strengths in you that you yourself have overlooked. Reach out to colleagues past and present, a manager, a direct report, friends or a coach/mentor, and ask them what they feel are your strengths. Do these perceived strengths give you energy? If so, keep them. A colleague may say you are great at public speaking, but if speaking to large groups leaves you drained of energy, this is not a strength so it does not make your list.

Recognizing your weaknesses also helps with your self-awareness as weaknesses deplete your energy. You can’t turn something that depletes your energy into a strength, but you can take steps to minimize the impact this activity has on you.

Once you have identified your strengths, think about how you experience this at work and how you can leverage this strength better in your job. This self-awareness will set you up for success and excellence in your career journey, wherever you want that to take you.

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  1. Jason Cao

    Thank you Heather Walker for sharing this insightful blog! What an interesting way of identifying one’s personal strenghts and weaknesses – by gaining vs. draining energy. I like it! It reminds me of the distinction for self-identifying whether we are extroverts or introverts, where the former gain energy by crowds, and the later gain energy by themselves.

    Too often, we are pre-occupied with our weaknesses becuase we see these things as “room for improvement” or things holding back our career that we need to fix. Seeing weaknesses as things that drain our energy makes it clearer for us to ignore or avoid them – rather, we can focus our attention on strengths. I believe many people forget there are different ways to achieve a goal – using our strengths to achieve our goals become so much more enjoyable – energizing!

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