- Would you be good at it? YES
- Would you be successful? YES
- Would you enjoy it? YES
Then, why the majority of us don’t take these into consideration when we choose what to study and ultimately our career?
The answer is simple.
We are simply not aware of what our strengths are.
I was already 25 years old when I was asked this question for the first time. I worked at GlaxoWellcome at that point.
My response to my manager was the following; ‘I can’t tell you what my strengths are but I can elaborate a lot about my weaknesses.’
WRONG ANSWER. WRONG ATTITUDE.
For some strange reason, we are more used to focus on our weaknesses than our strengths; maybe because they are easier to identify.
So how can you find your strengths?
Here are 4+1 ways. Pick the ones that fit best with your personality.
- Understand yourself better. Observe how you deal with various situations and draw your conclusions. e.g. when you go to a party, do you want to mingle and talk with everybody or do you prefer to sit at a corner and observe what is going on? Remember there is no right or wrong answer.
- Ask your friends to write down 1 positive thing about you on a post-it note. Do the same for them. This is a good exercise to understand how you are perceived by others. Keep the responses in your journal. Review them a couple of months later and reflect.
- Get a mentor. He/she will be able to give you a more objective view than your parents. (who might be a bit biased – well, I may be wrong!)
- Work experience. What feedback did you get while you were doing your summer job? Remember, our strengths come to us naturally. At young age, we may wrongly assume that everybody else is the same. An external perspective is useful.
- Personality tests. There are many around (some are pretty good.). However, I’d use them at a later stage. It’s important you develop the habit of self-analysis and reflection. (it’s not as difficult as it sounds. BTW, you do this already!)
Write down all your strengths you discovered in this process in your journal. Rank them with 1 being the best. Then, pick the top 5.
If you want to become an engineer and analytical thinking is not one of your top strengths, I would suggest you think again.
Find a career that plays to your strengths. In this way, you will enjoy what you will be doing and you will be great at it.