On any large journey, life included, it pays to take stock of your assets, strengths and weaknesses.
Taking the time to create awareness of your strengths is important. Especially so for leaders and entrepreneurs.
I thought I knew my strengths. I had forgotten some strengths. I had created a narrative in my self-talk that was dismissive, I even pegged some strengths as weaknesses.
I used the following 5 tools to get a little more clarity around my strengths. I hope you may find them useful too.
1. Introspective Review
Leveraging some questions from INC mag, I conducted an initial audit of my core values and things that came to me with little reflection were:
What do you love doing?
- SUP, swimming in the sea
- Runners high — the feeling after running — not running itself
- Writing and clarifying things
- Creating systems that support businesses
- Connecting others that wouldn’t usually connect
- Exploring disparate and new ideas
What is easy for you?
- Making summary videos
- Making simple tools
- Landscaping/rough woodwork/making things
What are your milestones and accomplishment
- Calculus and Statistics a year ahead in school
- Pro-drive course and racing cars at 14.
- New Zealand record holder in control line model aeroplanes (Speed and Junior team race)
- Traveled — LOADS — AFS, Chile; AIESEC, Brazil and Hungary; Work, UK
- Learnt: Spanish and Portuguese, still learning Russian
- Bachelor’s Degree — BCA in Marketing Management and Spanish
- CSPO — Certified Scrum Product Owner
- Fitness: Ran a marathon (6X half-marathons); dropped 20 KG; quit drinking, smoking and sugar (WIP).
2. Peer Review — Feedback from family and friends
I used a typeform questionnaire to ask my old work colleagues, friends and family what they thought. I then ran the results through a word cloud tool removing conjunctions, softening words (like kinda, sometimes, sort of) and merging synonyms. Here are the results:
Q1. What comes easy to Nick?
There were a lot of varied answers here and some I dismissed as false positives like Running, Parenting and Photography which although dominate my persona I didn’t feel were outright career traits. Besides, my asthmatic 12 year old self has left my self-talk convincing me that I’m no good at running and aerobic work. Also, being scolded in class for not using the right footnotes put me of photography and technical drawing…
It seems connecting, ideas and synthesis are strong themes. Languages and communication seemed to come easy. Optimism and discipline sound good too.
Q2. As a child what came easy to Nick?
Many didn’t know me as a kid so N was lower.
Removing the answers of recent colleagues, there were a lot of synonyms for Intrepid.
- being brave in new situations
- starting new things
- adventurous — one of few to go overseas, to a country that doesn’t speak English, giving up the prefect and house captain year…
- trying “dangerous” sports
- learning new things
I was also known for including everyone and apparently being the peacekeeper. In part, stopping conflicts, but also explaining points of view and perspective.
Q3. What has Nick received awards for or public praise?
Many got creative with the awards and public praise I have received. Some for my writing, parenting, marketing, dry days, deck building and running.
This really highlights to me how I downplay my successes. Something to work on for sure.
Q4. What do you wish you could do as well as Nick?
My wife would like to be able to travel as much as I can, many admired my bravery in learning new things, getting into uncomfortable situations and exploring. My ability to explain and understand complicated things was also admired.
Brave and Lead are interesting, and a counterbalance to the next question.
Q5. What should he work on?
I have to commend my friends for their constructive feedback. Another strength, I have good choice in friends.
- My parents asked me to communicate more; my brother asked me to reflect and chill; and my wife wants me to focus and finish things more.
- Two commented on showing stronger convictions in my ideas. I have clarity around my strategies and tactics, but need conviction to back them further.
- I need to be stronger with my team members, delegate and expect more of them, according to those in my teams.
I’ve been managing teams and making strategic recommendations for over a decade so it’s interesting to consider what could take that to the next level.
Although I stand up for my ideals, I don’t hunt conflict. This arches back, I guess, to childhood and traits of trying to fit in, both at school and in new countries. My parents have also self diagnosed with conflict aversion.
Summary of feeback
I’ve spent a lot of time in the last day synthesising these answers. My take:
STRENGTHS: Creativity, Curiosity, Bravery and Adventure
ACTION POINTS: Seek Conflict, Say No, Harden Up and Finish Things
Those questions again if you’d like to use them:
- What comes easy/naturally to X?
- As a child what came easy to X?
- What has X received awards, or public praise for?
- What do you wish you could do like X?
- What does X need to work on?
3. Profile tests
I also conducted two online tests to see what my strengths were. According to the VIA Institute of Character website, people who use their strengths every day are:
- 3x more likely to report having an excellent quality of life
- 6x more likely to be engaged at work
With this in mind the VIA Institute on Character have create a Strengths Finder test which you can complete here.
Character Strengths, Character Building Experts: VIA Character
Discover your character strengths in 10 minutes with the free, scientifically validated VIA Survey. Learn to use your…
My full results are here but the top 12 of 24 strengths, which I 80% agree with, were:
- Love of learning
- Social intelligence
I also completed a Myers Briggs assessment. Result:
INFJ — Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging.
Famous INFJers include: Hitler, Mugabe, Mandela and Ghandi — so I guess I can swing both ways.
4. The book filter
Combining the three previous methods with a little self reflection I thought I would try out some job titles. Using the lens of recent books I have completed some ideas are:
- The Obstacle Is The Way: Hostage Negotiator
- Extreme Ownership: Accountability Coach to Leaders, or Sales Negotiation
- Crushing It (playing to VIA strengths): CEO / GM for an NGO, or UN Peacekeeper
- Working Out Loud: Researching the best Leadership, Culture and Business Adventures — then building a movement around it.
- Holacracy: Org/team innovation coach.
Melding the first four activities together ideally I need:
“A brave, pioneering role that can leverage my cultural experience and ability to synthesise ideas. To grow, I need to seek more conflict, say no and finish.”
Please let me know:
- Your take on my analysis
- Any other tools you’ve found useful so I can add to this post.
Give a few claps if you’d like others to explore their strengths.