We all have strengths and weaknesses. Many people are more aware of their weaknesses than their strengths and therefore suffer from a lack of self-esteem. If this is the case with you, don’t worry: most people feel the same way and so did I. My self-esteem developed when I started to leave the old path of “adapted” and go my own way. At the same time, increasing self-esteem helps me to go my own way and to be less dependent on what other people think. This used to be unthinkable for me, because I was always in need of harmony and could not stand it well if someone was angry or dissatisfied with me.
How are motivation and strengths related?
Ideally, your motivation and your strengths already fit together well. However, it is more likely that you could not fully develop the strengths for your motivation if you had to strongly suppress your true motivation. Regardless of this, you have developed strengths in your life and we will use these to find and fill the work for you that matches your motivation.
There is one more important aspect of strengths that you should know. Every strength has a so-called “accepted weakness”. What does this mean? Let me explain this. For example, if you are very creative, generate many ideas and can think “out of the box”, it is unlikely that you are a good accountant who enjoys his work. Creative people are less structured, they think more in terms of possibilities and the future and not within given structures and the past. However, an accountant is not supposed to invent anything new, but to map the past of payments in a clearly defined structure, cleanly and without gaps. Consequently, it is rather difficult for a thoroughbred accountant to think up completely new things.
Everybody has to live with his or her “accepted weakness” which results directly from his or her strength. A born leader is usually not a good team player and vice versa, because the leader easily and gladly takes responsibility for others, makes decisions intuitively and quickly, is very assertive and is less afraid of risks or criticism. The typical and highly valued team player, on the other hand, feels uncomfortable if he cannot coordinate decisions with others and discuss them thoroughly. He also does not want decisions to be made for other meetings and suffers when others criticise him. In contrast to the leader, he tends to feel uncomfortable if he puts himself in the foreground. Again, both have to accept the weaknesses that come with their strength.
Another important insight is that it is more worthwhile to work on your strengths than to try to reduce your weaknesses. The achievable progress with the weaknesses is very limited and costs a lot of energy and time, whereas working on the strengths is easy and great progress can be expected quickly.
Find your strengths!
Start with the strengths that you recognize in yourself. These can be manual skills, special knowledge, a knack for dealing with people, writing, communication, artistic skills but also virtues such as perseverance, flexibility, thoroughness, tolerance, patience, etc. In your notebook, we will maintain a list of your strengths, which you will always add to if you have noticed another strength.
Ask at least five people who know you well for their opinion: “Where do you see my strengths? What have I done particularly well in the past? What are the first qualities that come to your mind when you think of me? On what topics would you ask me for advice?” you can also write them a letter or e-mail and ask a series of questions described in this chapter. This will give them more time to think and answer them in peace.
What tasks do you do particularly well at work? On which topics do people ask you for your advice? What are you known for at work? What is in your job description and what do you see as your strengths? What are you often praised for?
What do you like to do in your free time and holidays today? It might be ideal to turn your hobby into your profession. This is less far-fetched than it might sound at first. What are the characteristics of your hobbies? What strengths do you need to pursue these hobbies? With whom and at which places do you pursue your hobbies?
What did you do particularly well as a child and teenager? What were your hobbies that you no longer do today (e.g. dealing with animals, painting, sports, reading, etc.) What do your parents or grandparents remember when they think of you in your childhood? What did they particularly enjoy doing with you? How did you like to spend your holidays and how did you spend your free time? And with whom? Were you rather alone or did you like having many people around you? In which subjects were you best?
Remember your greatest achievements in life: When and on what occasion did you feel successful and proud of yourself? What had you done for it and what exactly were you proud of? On the result, on your stamina, on your creativity, etc.
Which roles do you play with your fellow human beings? Check out what role you play in your family. Are you perhaps the serious one who is concerned about the risks? Or are you more the joker who makes sure that the fun is not missed out? How are things in your circle of friends? Do you set the tone and determine what you do, or are you more of a person who can easily adapt to the wishes of others? What is it like at work? Do you create a good atmosphere in the team or do you always get the missing information when a decision is about to be made? Do you organize company events or are you asked for feedback on written documents? If you are part of other groups (e.g. in a club, in the neighbourhood, in church, in a music group) consider what tasks and what responsibilities you take on there quite naturally.
What kind of problems do you like to solve? What challenges you? What kind of tasks do you like to volunteer for? Where have you shone in the past with particularly good solutions?
Find out your type with personality tests. There is a whole range of proven personality tests, which are used especially by companies to determine the strengths and ideal areas of application of their employees. Maybe you have done such a test yourself in the past? Then pick out the old results and look at them. In any case, now is a good opportunity to do these tests.