“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein
It’s funny, isn’t it?
We usually have no problem identifying the strengths and skills of others, but when it comes to ourselves, it’s not so easy.
Many of us have even been conditioned to really hone in on our weaknesses so we can fix them (this might have even caused us to form some limiting beliefs that hold us back from success).
While the pursuit of becoming a better person is laudable, it is just as – if not more – important to identify your unique strengths and appreciate them.
And being able to identify your unique strengths is essential to achieving your definition of success, being more confident with yourself as an entrepreneur, and creating a life you love.
You’ll likely be required to discuss them when applying for a job. And if you’re planning on achieving your BIG goals, you’ll need to know what they are so you can leverage them to your advantage both at work and in life.
Here are five tips to help you as you work to identify your unique strengths:
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1. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others (But Do Let Them Inspire You)
This is a bad habit that increases anxiety for no good reason.
There will always be someone better and worse than you at any given thing.
I mean think about it - there are over 7 billion people in the world.
Whatever you are the best at, chances are there is someone even better at it than you.
And whatever you are the worst at, there’s bound to be someone even worse than you.
That’s why when you compare yourself to others, you are fighting a losing battle. There will always be someone to envy. There will always be something to knock down your self- confidence if you let it.
Plus, we usually don’t even make fair comparisons. The only fair comparison you can really make is to compare who you are today to who you were yesterday.
The only fair comparison you can make is to compare who you are today to who you were yesterday.
When we compare ourselves to others we usually focus on one thing and lose sight of the bigger picture.
This happens a lot on social media because we see glorified snapshots of other people’s lives without also seeing the not-so-glamorous or flattering or fortunate clips to keep things in perspective. Derek Halpern describes it as comparing your “behind the scenes” with other people’s “highlight reel”.
However, you can draw inspiration from those you admire. As Tony Robbins says, we tend to like people who are: 1. like us or 2. who we want to be.
So, notice the strengths that you admire in the people closest to you and the people you look up to – they are often a reflection of your own.
2. Reflect Upon Your Childhood
Reflecting upon your childhood can uncover some valuable insights.
When we are children, we are uninhibited by the “responsibilities” of life which makes us freer to explore things out of genuine interest rather than practical obligation.
We haven’t had enough time or life experience to become jaded by failures and rejections and betrayals. We truly believed anything was possible.
Think back to that time when you were unapologetically you. When you believed anything was possible. What did you:
You have undoubtedly learned many awesome skills throughout your life. But, which have been with you all along?
Maybe you’ve always had a way with words, an ability to connect to people or a natural sense of leadership. Try to remember what you were good at and what you liked doing when you were younger.
Connecting with your inner child can help you to uncover your inherent, unique strengths.
3. Notice When You’re in the Flow
The term “flow” was created by Hungarian-American psychologist, Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi (I’m going to call him MC) who wrote an amazing book called, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
MC noticed that artists often get so engrossed in their work that they lose track of time.
They don’t eat or sleep. They are completely consumed in the task at hand.
He found that this phenomenon is not limited to artists, it can happen for any of us.
It can happen while playing an instrument or playing a sport – any activity in which you are completely immersed and focused on the task at hand.
MC says that when you when you’re in the zone, you are engaging in an activity that is a good match for your skills.
You are so engaged and consumed with the task that everything else seems to fade away.
I experience flow when I am blogging, doing freelance writing assignments or creating pins on Canva. It's like one minute it's 7am and the next it's 7pm!
Do you remember a time when you were “in the zone”? What were you doing?
The answers to these questions will reveal not only your unique strengths but also what you truly love doing.
This is extremely important information to consider when deciding on your career path because as the saying goes, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life”.
4. Take a Test
Taking a standardized test can help you get to know yourself better and make your unique strengths more apparent.
One of the most renowned tests for understanding your personality and how it affects all areas of your life including your career is the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
According to their website, the assessment helps you identify your preferred way of doing things in four key areas: directing and receiving energy, taking in information, making decisions and approaching the outside world.
After completing the test, you are assigned one of 16 four-letter personality types based on your responses to questions designed to measure your personality type.
You will have one dominant characteristic for each of the four categories:
I think the actual test on the Meyers-Briggs website costs around $60.
But this book on Amazon is a super awesome, more affordable option with in-depth explanations for each personality type.
I took the test and I was super impressed; it nailed me "to the T" … shout out to my fellow INFJs!
Understanding these aspects of yourself can help you discover your unique strengths and identify which pursuits are best for you.
I recommend taking these tests if you have never taken one before or even if you have taken one before because we can change over time. It'll really help you understand how you relate to the world, process information, make decisions and generally manage your life.
5. Ask Others for Feedback
Another way to identify your unique strengths is to ask the people closest to you for feedback. In some ways, they may know you better than you know yourself.
Ask them what they think your unique talents are, what you seem to do better than most people and what type of career they think would make you the happiest.
Their eye-opening insights about you may shed some light on what you’re really good at and leave you saying, “I never thought of myself that way!”
Also, be open to constructive criticism – it will help you to identify your weaknesses, which is also important.
According to Tim Ferriss, “You don’t succeed because you have no weaknesses. You succeed because you find your unique strengths and focus on developing habits around them.”
Knowing your weaknesses as well as your strengths is important both in the beginning when you are deciding which career/entrepreneurial venture to pursue and later on when you are ready to allocate tasks.
When you are aware of your weaknesses, you can avoid jobs that will zap your time and energy and focus on jobs that play to your strengths instead. You’ll know which tasks to allocate and which ones to do yourself.
Conclusion: 5 Tips to Identify Your Unique Strengths
1. Don’t make unfair comparisons between yourself and others. Rather, define the strengths of those you admire and reflect upon how those qualities either exist or can be developed in you.
2. Connect with your inner child. The things that interested you and brought you joy when you were more uninhibited may reveal your inherent strengths that have been with you all along.
3. Notice what you are doing when you experience flow. If you can incorporate these strengths into your work, you’ll be happier and more fulfilled because you’ll be doing something you are good at and that you enjoy.
4. Take a test to gain self-awareness. Knowing certain things about yourself like whether you are an introvert or an extrovert can really help you to identify your unique strengths. A brain dump can also help you to gain insight.
5. Ask others for feedback. Their insights may provide you with fresh perspective regarding your strengths and weaknesses.
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is You-er than You.”
– Dr. Seuss
Over to you – what is one of your unique strengths? Let me know in the comments below!
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