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Do you know what it is that you offer that other people value?
It may seem like a simple question but I’m betting you might not have the whole picture.
You get feedback I’m sure from other people. If you work for someone else you get feedback in the form of compensation and perhaps yearly reviews.
If you work for yourself or have your own business you might get feedback from clients and customers – or you might not.
Sometimes what you do best isn’t easy to see and looking through the lens of your own self-perception can be like looking in a fun house mirror.
Distortions can’t help but happen.
I remember writing a self-appraisal years ago for my corporate performance review. I really thought about what I wrote – the usual stuff – strengths and areas for improvement. I was pretty happy with what I handed over to my boss but he wasn’t.
It turns out what I thought I did best wasn’t what he valued nor was it what he thought I did best.
I was surprised to learn that what he valued most was my ability to get along with a wide variety of people – colleagues, employees, customers and management. It seems the key ingredient to my success was my consistency in how I worked with, spoke to, encouraged and interacted with others.
I can remember him saying that he never knew anyone who connected with all levels of people effortlessly – from the person who brought around the coffee cart to the CEO of the company.
That bit of information contained the seeds of what I would eventually do with my life and my work – I was primarily people-oriented and all the time I thought I was someone who excelled at analysis and technology.
Now I was excellent at those things but they weren’t what made it possible to succeed – it was that other, less tangible talent that I possessed that was the wind beneath my wings.
So here is a way to find out what it is you do best.
ASK OTHER PEOPLE!
Ok, that may seem too simple but it is the questions you ask them that makes all the difference if you really want to get good information.
If you have your own business this is truly vital. Whether you offer product or service how your clients and customers perceive you is what will make them keep coming back and sharing the word about how fabulous you are.
Often the feedback you might get comes in the form of what needs to be fixed but that is not the purpose of this exercise. In this exercise the question you want to ask is:
“What do I do really well – even better than other people in my line of work?”
And the second question is:
“Why is that important to you?”
Ask your boss, your co-workers, your employees, your clients and customers and even your long-time friends. Long-time friends may not have a perspective on what you do well at work but I bet what they come up with answering what you do really well will be pretty much the same as those people you meet in your career.
Once you have your answers you are on the way to leveraging what you do best for career success!
And here are three ways you can do just that!
- Shift your time and energy towards what you do best. A day only has 24 hours and, even if you spend a lot of them working, the key to success is making that time count. So look at where you are spending your time and if it is not utilizing your strengths then make a change. Most likely even if you are fabulous at what you are doing it might not be the most important way to spend your time if you are not doing what others value most.
- Focus your mind on your strengths rather than your weaknesses. You have areas to improve – everyone does. And sometimes getting criticism from others (let’s assume it is constructive criticism) can get you focused on what needs to be fixed rather than on what is going right. So gently formulate a plan to improve what needs to be improved but keep your eye on what it is you do best and make sure to use that as your inner benchmark. Be your own best champion of your gifts and talents.
- Do some dreaming again about the life you want to create. Now that you know what it is you do best how does the work you are currently doing leverage that? Perhaps it is ideal for someone who does what you do best, but if it is not, then greater success is waiting elsewhere for you. And that is true whether you are an entrepreneur or work for someone else. So if your talents aren’t being utilized in the job you are currently doing take a look around at other opportunities within your company or within your business. If you have your own business that might mean you need to hire others to do some of what you used to do so you can focus on what you do best. If you work for someone else explore other ways you could contribute and go and ask for a chance to create real value for yourself and your employers.
Organizing your day around what it is you do that others value most translates into greater success on all levels – greater personal fulfillment, greater financial reward, and a greater sense of making a meaningful contribution in the world.
Ok – I’ve said enough.
Off you go – find out what it is you do best and celebrate that!