I want you to do a quick exercise for me.
Think of a friend of yours or someone your know. Feel into that person for a minute (what I mean by feel into is close your eyes and think about them intently).
Now answer the question – What would you pay that person to do for you?
Did you get the answer? It might be vague or very clear, but the sad part is that often the answer to this question is something completely different from what that person does for a living.
You might pay them to motivate you or cheer you up when you are down. Or come up with some creative ideas for your business. Or help you get better at organizing your life. Or teach you how to cook healthy meals for your family.
The reason I asked you to do this exercise is to show you that we unconsciously feel what other people are naturally good at.
In fact, evolutionary psychologists prove that we smell it. Yes, smell! Just like animals. Nature is very smart and it provided this mechanism for us for a survival reason.
Now imagine that the same friend we just talked about would invest time and energy into developing their strengths that you already feel in them and then create a business where those strengths are leveraged and emphasized.
Her products and services, website copy and visual branding, marketing strategy, content and business model are in full alignment with what you already are willing to pay for.
Do you think other people would be happy to pay her for it as well?
Now imagine that your friend would continue developing his or her strengths, constantly upping her game, offering more and more sophisticated solutions and products that are in alignment with her talents. (This is the thing about your natural talents – tapping into them is like tapping into an endless source of creativity and inspiration. The best part? It never feels like work!)
Do you think she will create tremendous value for her community?
The point I am trying to make is that when you capitalize on your strengths, you are much more likely to succeed, gain trust, clients and make an impact.
If you look at any great leaders, you’ll see that their success is due to them developing their natural talents and using them to create something valuable for the world.
For some people it is easy. For most of us it is extremely hard.
Society dictates us who we should be through media, education system and many societal institutions. In schools we instill knowledge and skills as opposed to hunting for children’s natural talents and helping them develop them into strengths.
Well-meaning parents have certain expectations of who they want their children to become. Often those expectations are not in alignment with who the child really is.
So, what we get is a society of people disconnected from their nature, who lack self-awareness, whose natural talents are underdeveloped, hardly used in a positive way to contribute as much value as they possibly could.
I know from personal experience that many of my strengths I had shame issues around. I looked at them as weaknesses and suppressed them into shadow. I spent years trying to become someone I was not, round up my edges and fit in.
It takes conscious effort to remember who we are.
It takes courage to allow ourselves to build a life aligned fully with our natural talents and strengths. It takes creativity to intentionally highlight your strengths in your business and your brand communications.
So how do you gain clarity on your strengths and how do you leverage them in your business?
Let’s look at some practical strategies and tools.
First, you have to understand the difference between inborn talents, strengths and skills.
Skills are what you practiced and became good at over time. Your skills are not necessarily your strengths.
Your talents is your inborn unique way of looking at and operating in the world. It’s a set of behaviors, desires and feelings that are intrinsic for you.
Your talents are not necessarily your strengths yet, as they might be underdeveloped, rarely used in a constructive positive way that adds value. They are, however, something that you can quickly turn into your strength. It’s something you can master fast with some practice and intention.
And then, of course, your strength is a talent that’s been developed and practiced. It’s a skill + talent combined.
In this article, I use talents and strengths interchangeably.
Have you heard the phrase – “he is in his zone of genius”? That’s what zone of genius is – when you do something that is in alignment with your inborn talents. It’s easy for you and it looks fascinating to other people.
The best part is that doing anything aligned with your inborn talents energizes you and puts you in the state of flow. It’s nature’s mechanism to ensure you get pleasure from contributing to humanity in your unique way. If you get pleasure, hopefully you’ll want to keep doing it. Nature is very smart!
Now that you know the difference between skills, talents and strengths, let’s see how we can discover what we are naturally good at.
Here are the tools I use:
Personality Systems and Strengths Finder Tests:
I’ve studied many personality systems and took many tests. I found many of them to be incredibly helpful shortcuts to understanding your natural strengths. The key is to use not just one (Mayers Briggs is great, not enough though), but several to help you uncover layers of your psyche.
The Enneagram, Fascination Advantage, Vector Psychology (for my Russian speaking readers), Standout, Strengths Finder are just some of the suggestions.
Do your research. Take the tests. Collect your keywords. (Keywords are words and phrases that those tests use to describe you. Write them down for us to work with later.)
Ask your subconscious:
I also use some journaling exercises to access your subconscious. They help you bypass your monkey mind and go deeper.
I’ll share some of my favorite exercises in the FREE webinar I’ll tell you about below.
Ask your friends and family:
That question I asked you about your friend? Ask your friends the same question about yourself. Keep collecting keywords.
Notice the way you act in stressful situations:
Our shit comes out when we are stressed. The truth is that our inborn strengths come out as well. You just need to be more self-aware and observe.
Collect your keywords:
Put everything you discovered from the steps above on a big sheet of paper. Words, phrases, maybe even images.
And then try to boil it down to 5-10 core keywords.
Finally, make art. Yes, I recommend to make art with your strengths. Put them on canvas. To serve you as a reminder and a compass.
Remember, you’ve been conditioned to fit in. Self-awareness is not something that comes natural to most of us. You need a powerful reminder daily to start embodying your talents.
How To Implement What You Learned:
Each time I start a project, write an article like this one, build a new website, I look at my strengths keywords and I know what to do.
Each time I feel like I start pushing too much, I realize that what I do is not aligned with my strengths. And so I sit down and try to think of creative ways to bring my strengths out more in my work and in my daily life.
The key is to do it intentionally. I carve some time every week to get re-aligned and to brainstorm for more ways to develop my strengths as well as use them in my business, my relationships, my family life etc.
Things To Align In Your Business With Your Strengths:
- Your Marketing
- Your Offers
- Your visual branding and your brand messaging
- Your content
- Platforms you engage on with your audience and the way you engage
- Your business model
When you start thinking about it intentionally, more and more ways of bringing your genius out will reveal themselves to you.
I truly believe that we need to stop the conversation about passions and start talking more strengths. This is the future of entrepreneurship. This is the future of how we do work.
This is really the only way we as a humanity can overcome many challenges our planet faces right now.
We need to start doing what we were born to do, what is aligned with unique configurations of our psyches. That’s how we can add the most value to our local and global communities.
My intention with this article was to give you a taste of what it’s like to remember who you are and allow yourself to bring who you are into what you do.
What kind of world do you we want to create – a world full of energized, inspired, contributing as much as they possibly could to their communities people, or a world of depressed, drained, disconnected from their nature people? I vote for aliveness, contribution and inspiration.
Join my FREE webinar:
I’d like to invite you to my webinar where I will share with you more strategies – the exact personality systems I use and how to interpret your results, my favorite journaling exercises for accessing your subconscious mind, what to ask your friends, as well as show my art and how I used my talents and strengths to re-brand myself.
To be fully transparent, this webinar leads to me inviting you to join my upcoming pilot program where I will actually keep you accountable and help you practically implement everything you learn. But you don’t need to join the program to benefit from the webinar. It will be full of practical resources and strategies that you can implement yourself.
Join the webinar here.