Are you looking for the secret path to a successful life? Something you can find out there in the world – if you just keep searching for it. You see, most people make the mistake of looking outward for success opportunities.
However, the easiest and most rewarding path to success is looking within. Discovering what you have to offer to the world that nobody else can. Finding your own unique talents and sharing them in a meaningful way.
So here is a little run down on the importance of finding your true talents.
Why you need to find your talents and strengths
Most people never find their natural talents and strengths – either because they do not believe they have any or because they underestimate their importance. If you want to be successful, discovering your uniqueness is not a nice bonus – it’s a necessity. The following two examples show you why:
– Your biggest room for growth lies within your talents
A common assumption in today’s society is that the key to success is fixing your weakness. People tend to think that working on what you are not good at is the fastest way to grow and develop. That’s far from the truth. Of course, you can get better at anything. Working on your weakness can help you go from bad to mediocre. But you will never be able to achieve true excellence without an underlying talent. As Markus Buckingham says: each person’s greatest room for growth is in the areas of his or her greatest strength.î So find these areas of talent and strength and capitalize on them. That way you can use your full potential.
– Making use of your key differentiator
What sets you apart from everyone else is your unique personality with all the special talents and strengths that you possess. YOU are the biggest asset that you could ever have. The first step to embrace your uniqueness is being aware that you are special. You are like nobody else in this world. Nobody else has had the same experiences as you. No one has exactly the same characteristics and shares the same values. Nobody has learned all the various skills you learned. Discovering your talents and strengths means becoming more aware of who you really are. Because only when you know what makes you so unique ñ you can fully embrace and make use of it.
But what exactly is a talent?
A talent is simply a strong characteristic that you have. It’s something you naturally do, think, or feel and that can be used in a beneficial way. It is nothing you acquired in school or that was taught to you at university. A talent is just a natural pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior. Psychologists say that 90% of what you think every day is repetitive*. Meaning most of what you think today, you already thought yesterday, and 90% of these thoughts you also thought the day before … Not only are your thoughts the results of underlying patterns but also your behavior and feelings. Finding your talents is simply about discovering these most prominent patterns within you and then using it to your advantage.
Identifying your unique talents
To set yourself up for success and capitalize on the way you are, you need to identify your unique characteristics. This is a process that takes quite some time but that is definitely worth doing!
The following four ways can help you get started:
1. Find what makes you feel strong
Keep track of how you spend the next two days: What are you doing, feeling or thinking about daily? Write down everything that energizes you and makes you feel strong. It could be a particular physical activity such as meeting up and going dancing with a friend or a mental activity such as finding a solution to a difficult problem. Then when you found a few things you repeatedly do and love, dig deeper and see what part of that particular activity made you feel good.
So for example, one of my patterns is that I love learning and sharing my findings with you. That statement in itself is not quite true: I don’t like learning about everything. Give me books about personal development and I am occupied for hours feeling energized and in flow. Give me almost anything else and I am bored to hell. I like sharing what I learn but if you make me talk about it in front of a crowd, I will try to run and hide. However, sit down with me alone and I will happily talk with you for hours. These are distinct differences that are vital to know in order to make the most of my talent.
Look out for your own patterns: what are you always doing or thinking about? What can you just not help doing, thinking or feeling? Even if someone asks you not to? Often these are things that others can find quite annoying about you 😉
2. Discover what you spend your money on
Your core values are closely linked with what you spend your money and time on. Take note of what you spend your money on and look closer at what this can tell you about yourself.
For example, I spend my money on books, seminars and conferences. The types of books I buy show me what I am passionate about – namely personal development and entrepreneurship. But what’s behind it is my innate desire to learn and grow. That is a strong natural characteristic of mine, a talent that drives everything I do, how I think and how I spend my time.
If you like spending money on going out with friends, is it that you like bringing people together? Is it that you like getting attention and expressing yourself? Or maybe is it because you value deepening your pre-existing friendships? Why do you do what you do? What is behind it? The key is to keep digging deeper in order to get to the core essence of your talent patterns.
Most people, including myself in the past, make the terrible mistake of being too fast and not taking enough time to truly discover themselves. Identifying what makes you truly unique and what drives you is not a 1-minute exercise you can complete while brushing your teeth.
3. Asking others
Find out what others value most about you. What personal characteristics would describe you best? Ask your friends, partner and family members what they love most about your personality. This will not just be valuable for your self-confidence ñ it will also show you what you are likely to dismiss about yourself. You might be surprised by what you find out. Often, how you see yourself is very different to how others see you.
The problem with talents and strengths is that they are so normal to you that you tend to dismiss them. You are so used to them that you take them for granted and don’t realise that they exist and that they are your biggest asset.
4. Using personality tests
Another good way to discover your unique talents is using a personality test. One that I can recommend is the Clifton StrengthFinder which determines your top five dominant patterns. It gives you a detailed explanation of them and actionable advice about how to put them to use. The test has really opened my eyes and helped me understand my talents and myself a little better. You can buy the test as part of the book Now, Discover Your Strengths or get it on its own.
However, don’t just use the test alone and do nothing with it. The result alone will have no impact on you or your strength development unless you use the answers as a starting point to get to know yourself better. The best would be going through the steps in the order described above. Start with self-analysis, then see if others confirm your view about yourself and lastly you can also see what personality tests reveal about you. From my experiences, this process will prove to be the most valuable one for finding your unique talents and strengths.
Let me know in the comments what you have done to identify your talents.
Do you still tend to focus on fixing your weakness or are you already developing your strengths?