Do any of us really know how talented we are? One thing I’ve learned over the years is that we women consistently underestimate our skills and abilities.
Take the tech geek who has a unique talent for speaking in plain English in a way that even our mothers would understand, the receptionist who can solve almost any problem or the florist who always comes up with more efficient ways to do humdrum tasks. These talents are not part of their job descriptions, but nevertheless, they add enormous value to whatever they do.
Not recognizing these skills and talents is not (necessarily) the result of a poor self-image. Some of the brightest, most successful women have great self-confidence. It’s just that they exercise their talents so effortlessly, so naturally, that it doesn’t even occur to them that they have abilities that others envy.
So how do we figure it out? What follows is the process I used, starting about a month ago. Give it a whirl; it should work for you, too.
1. Make a top-of-mind list
I sat down with pen and paper and just started writing. This is what I came up with.
- Time management
- Social media
- Public speaking
This list turned out to be things I’ve done, in one form or another, since I was a kid. (I remember reciting a poem, complete with overblown hand gestures and dramatic voice modulations, when I was about 10. I still remember the poem and would be happy to recite it…for a small fee, of course!)
2. Let it age
And that’s where I got stuck, which ticked me off. Surely I have more skills that that! I set it aside, let it age for a few weeks, and when I picked up my pen again, I had a different mindset. I focused less on specific tasks that I do well, and more also transferable skills that cross career and industry boundaries.
With that in mind, I added:
- Logical thinking
- Connecting people
- Coming up with new ideas
- Learning new things
- Detail oriented
- Action oriented
- Project management
- Event planning
3. Look for common threads
This second list – which probably isn’t complete either – certainly broadened my view of myself. Taken with the first list, it became apparent that there are several talents that fit under a single header.
If you have trouble identifying your talents, try my process and see how it works for you. Keep your list handy so you see it all day and can add to it as you go along. When you get stuck, ask yourself these questions:
- What excited me as a child?
- What makes me feel strong?
- What pulls me forward?
- What could I do for hours that is so consuming I resent having to get up for a potty break?
- What are the themes?
- What do I enjoy doing?
- What do I spend my money on?
- What gives me a sense of joyful anticipation?
Some other ways you can uncover your own talents:
- Open up a space in your life to get perspective
- Get away from it all – and everyone – for a time
- Keep a journal, and pay attention to the commonalities
- Take a break from your routine
- Try different things
4. Enlist others
Another way to get unstuck is to reach out to five people who know you and who promise to not blow wind up your skirt. Ask them: “What are my top strengths? Where do I excel?” Then listen. You may be surprised at what you hear. Just don’t discount them out of hand. They have a less-biased view of you than you have of yourself.
You may also want to take any number of assessments, including StrengthsFinder 2.0.
5. Decide what happens next
Then decide what you want to do with those talents. Is it to create your own ideal job? Start or build your business? Become a nun? Join the Peace Corps? Whatever it is, use your dominant talents and build on them by learning more about them, adding related skills to your repertoire and practice, practice, practice until you are the best you can be – doing something that you love.
What are your top three talents? How do you use them in your everyday life? Please share in the comments. And if you are so inclined, I’d love to hear what you think I should add to my own talent list.
P.S. Ladies, are you ready to make some changes in your life? Let me help! My coaching manual for women can help you get there. http://amzn.to/29vxxLW