When you look at Don Draper from Mad Men, he is extremely good at saving a deal that has gone in the wrong direction. When a client seems to dislike his ad campaign, this fictional ad executive just weaves a perfect tale to change their mind. His storytelling ability is something that no one else at his agency has. He found his strengths, fostered them, and became a successful business leader. You can do it too!
The things you are good at are basically the keys to your success. According to Todd Kashdan, a psychology professor at George Mason University and author of Curious?: Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life, when we do things we’re already good at, we think quicker and act faster.
If you use these four tips based on the advice taken from Mr. Todd Kashdan, you can learn a way to recognize your biggest strengths.
Break away from all those job titles
If you honestly want to discover your gifts, you need to explore new roles. Kashdan suggests thinking of your company as if it were a laboratory. Encourage flexible roles and figure out how it goes. “If people are excited about trying something else and if you have some evidence that they could be good, then experiment with it,” he says.
For instance, one executive wanted a more innovative and creative workplace, but he wasn’t the right person to make it happen. Kashdan helped him to identify specific values of his staff — someone who is creative and unconcerned with opinions of others —and then placed that person in charge of innovation. When you assign roles based on people’s strengths instead of job titles, you can create a better, stronger team.
Look for signs of excitement
When you are doing something you are truly good at, your excitement is visible to everyone around you, and if you focus, you will notice it too. Your pupils will dilate, your chest will become broader, your speech will be fast and fluid, and your arms will be spread wider.
Have you noticed how people feel alive and motivated when they’re using a core strength? Have you noticed it this within yourself? If you are still unsure, ask a close mentor when you seem most animated, or simply observe yourself for a day. When are you most engaged? When do you feel full of energy? Once you see yourself in this state, you will start loving it even more because you will be certain that this is where your strength lies, and that is where you can really shine.
Creatively describe what you are strong at
When you are naming your strengths, avoid overused words such as “dedicated” or “team player.” Instead of those, use a unique term that best describes your specific strength. By choosing an untypical word, you avoid all the usual connotations. Kashdan tends to use terms such as autonomy supporter, storyteller, energy incubator, battery, and investigator. Being untypically specific will help leaders apply their gifts.“Once you can put a word to your strengths, it becomes much more embedded in your everyday life,” Kashdan says.
Once you realize what you are good at, you can build on it, expand, try new things in that field, eventually outgrowing your beginnings vastly without ever noticing limits that others reach. On the other hand, if you are trying to master the characteristic that is not your good side, you will definitely fail.
Notice the things you do differently from everybody else
When you truly use your strengths, you will stand out from the crowd inevitably. The way you approach a problem will be unique. In order to name your strengths, you will want to identify those moments and define how they are different. Kashdan remembers one executive who told an animated story during an early morning meeting, a story about letting his kids run free at an aquarium full of people. “His focus was not on safety, but on promotion,” Kashdan says. He emphasizes the fact that he supports autonomy which helps him manage independent workers. Therefore, just one moment is enough for you to notice what you are doing differently. You will be able to rely on that for the rest of your career, and it will help you immensely.