Advertising
Advertising

10 Ways To Identify Your Talents And Utilize Them

10 Ways To Identify Your Talents And Utilize Them

So you’re stuck, huh? Welcome to the crowd. With constant peer pressure from social media to define ourselves in 140 characters or less, it’s no surprise that who we actually are gets lost in the shuffle. But once we get away from those glowing screens of identity-makers, how do we decide what our strengths are and how to use them? Identify your talents and start using them now with these ten simple tips:

1. Take a personality test. 

Think these tests are a one size fits all approach? Think again. Personality tests are an objective way of understanding what makes you tick. The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator is a popular tool to help you define the patterns in your seemingly complex personality. Once you know which category you fall into, you can start seeing your strengths and weaknesses more clearly in everyday life. Use this to your advantage by walking into a job interview, first date or any other high stakes situation and playing to your newly discovered strengths.

Advertising

2. Find what makes you feel strong.

Ever have those moments when everything feels easy and light? You know that you have the answer or are capable of finding the answer? When we are drawn toward a sense of ease that is usually our inner talent scout speaking up. Notice when you feel your strongest and create more opportunities to feel that way. If you’re naturally good with kids, see if you can volunteer time at an after school program or babysit for a friend who needs a little help. Let your strengths lead your schedule.

3. Find what you spend the most money on.

We often put our money where our mouth is when it comes to what we desire. Using easy and free applications like Mint to go back through your finances is a great way to notice where you pour your dollars. When you follow the green you discover what you value, and chances are you have a knack for what you value. If you go back through your yearly spending and notice that your biggest expense is that group fitness class you love, use that as a sign of your athleticism. Sign up for a road race, try a new kind of class or simply just commit to a healthy lifestyle.

Advertising

4. Ask your friends what your best and worst qualities are. 

You know they are going to be brutally honest. But the great thing about asking a handful of trusted friends about your qualities is that they all usually say the same thing. It’s enlightening to hear different people see you in the same light and this is definitely an indicator of talent. Use your friends’ perspectives here to work on what you’d like to do better. Are you compassionate but also a little bit on the chatty side? Use your compassion to slow down, breathe and give others the right of conversational way. Use your natural talents to improve those parts of your M.O. that might need a little work.

5. Ask your family what you loved as a child.

Sometimes the people who have known us the longest are the people who know us the best. Ask your family what you used to do as a kid – maybe you always played alone, with friends, made up stories, wrote, drew, acted out scenes, played baseball, read books. More than likely these are things you still love today, but some things we easily forget as we grow into responsible, mature, serious adults. Take these recollections as a hint to get busy playing again. See how much of your childhood you can recreate in your adulthood by following your sense of play. Using your talents in recreation gives your brain a chance to play, making you more productive in every other area of your life.

Advertising

6. Write in a journal. 

Let your thoughts flow onto a few pages every morning and walk away from them for the rest of the day. Stream of consciousness writing can be very effective at identifying your talents. Come back after a week and re-read your pages. You’ll notice a lot of your thoughts circle back to one main idea. This is usually a talent or desire. Use your writing to look for hidden answers. What are you missing? What are you longing for? What opportunities do you wish would come through? Then, use your journal to create a list of your strengths and a list of opportunities to set new goals that are aligned with those strengths.

7. Look for talent in others. 

Sometimes being inspired by others’ talents makes us realize what we’re good at, too. If you are a writer and you read something that absolutely connects with your soul, try to define what exactly lit you up. Conversely, if you see talent in others and feel jealous (don’t you worry, we all do this) you can use this to your advantage as well. Ask this person to mentor you, give you advice or simply chat over coffee. Reaching out and seeing talent in others will open up opportunities and connections while helping you define your own.

Advertising

8. Take stock of your book/music/movie collections. 

The media we consume says a lot about what we value, but what we own says something even larger. This is a true identity maker. I am extremely aware of what books I read on the subway because I know that I’m outwardly identifying something hidden about myself on my morning commute. Glance through all of your collections, what is the one resonating idea? This is probably something that lights your fire. Dig further into this, is there a convention, a class, a workshop you could take to use this talent? How can you connect with others who enjoy the same thing as you? All of these avenues lead to connections and potential networking, so go ahead with your talented self.

9. Remember what you have been thanked for.

When people thank us for something, they have been helped in some way. Notice what you are thanked for on the regular. Are you a good listener? A good teacher? A good motivator? All of these things are talents even though they seem small. Remember that your talents shouldn’t just be in service to other people, but to you as well. If you’re in a constant mode of selflessness, use your talent as a caregiver to take care of yourself. Know that as you give to yourself, you’re growing your ability to give to others.

10. Be open to change. 

Know that as we age, our tastes change and our strengths grow. Don’t allow yourself to be complacent by telling yourself the same story over and over again. If you say, I’m not athletic because I didn’t play sports in high school, you’re not giving your current self a chance to identify new talents. Being open to change means letting go of preconceived notions and honestly absorbing the world around you. This kind of openness will lead you to discover new talents and help prepare you to tackle any challenge life throws your way.

More by this author

8 Ways To Live and Work Like You’re On Vacation How To Increase Your Willpower? Just 10 Simple But Powerful Tricks How To Leverage Your Biggest Failure Into Your Biggest Success What You Say In Difficult Time Does Matter: Things A Truly Great Leader Says When Facing Challenges Life Is About Leaving The Comfort Zone And A Little More

Trending in Productivity

1 How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively 2 How Long Does It Take to Break a Habit? Science Will Tell You 3 What Is the Purpose of Life and What Should You Live For? 4 Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes 5 10 Things High Achievers Do to Attain Greatness

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 21, 2019

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, is a reminder of why I am so drawn to leadership as a topic. Whenever I think it is impossible for me to be more impressed with her, she proves me wrong.

Earlier this week, a former marine suggested that he had been in a long-term sexual relationship with the Senator. She flipped the narrative and used the term “Cougar,” a term used to describe older women who date younger men, to reference her alma mater.

Rather than calling the young man a liar, or responding to the accusations in kind, she re-focused the conversation back to her message of college affordability and lifted up that “Cougar” was the mascot for her alma mater. She went on to note that tuition at her school was just $50 per semester when she was a student. Class act.

But by the end of the week, news broke that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another contender for the presidency, had a heart attack. Warren not only wished Sanders a speedy recovery but her campaign sent a meal to his staff. She knew that the hopes of staff, donors and supporters were with the Senator from Vermont and showed genuine compassion and empathy.

To me, she has proven time and time again that she is more than a presidential candidate: she belongs in a leadership hall of fame.

What makes some people excel as leaders is fascinating. You can read about leadership, research it and talk about it, yet the interest in leadership alone will not make you a better leader.

You will have more information than the average person, but becoming a good leader is lifelong work. It requires experience – and lots of it. Most importantly, it requires observation and a commitment to action. Warren observed what was happening with Sen. Sanders, empathized with his team and then took action. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Sanders’ staff will likely never forget her gesture.

Advertising

You would have had to work on a political campaign in order to appreciate the stress and anxiety that comes with it. In this moment, staff may not remember everything that Warren said throughout the lengthy campaign, but they will remember what she did during an unforgettable time during the campaign.

If this model of leadership is appealing, and if you are searching for how to up your own leadership game, read on for six characteristics that good leaders share:

1. Good leaders are devoted to the success of the people around them.

Good leaders are not self-interested. Sure, they want to succeed, but they also want others to succeed.

Good leaders see investing in others just as important as they see investing in themselves. They understand that their success is closely tied to the people around them, and they work to ensure that their peers, employees, friends and family have paths for growth and development.

While the leaders may be the people in the spotlight, they are quick to point to the people around them who helped them (the leaders) enter that spotlight. Their willingness to lift others inspires their colleagues’ and friends’ devotion and loyalty.

2. Good leaders are not overly dependent on others’ approval.

It is important for managers to express their support for their teams; good leaders must be independent of the approval of others. I explained in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that:[1]

“While a desire to be loved is natural, managers who prioritize approval from subordinates will become ineffective supervisors who may do employees harm. For example, a manager driven by a need for approval may shy away from delivering constructive feedback that could help an employee improve. A manager fearful of upsetting someone may tolerate behavior that degrades the work environment and culture.”

In yet another example, a manager who is dependent on the approval of others may not make decisions that could be deemed unpopular in the short run but necessary in the long run.

Think of the coaches who integrated their sporting teams. Their decision to do so, may have seemed odd, and even wrong, in the moment, but time has proven that those leaders were on the right side of history.

3. Good leaders have the capacity to share the spotlight.

Attention is nice, but it is not the prime motivator for good leaders. Doing a good job is.

For this reason, good leaders are willing to share the spotlight. They aren’t threatened by a lack of attention, and they do not need credit for every accomplishment. They are too focused on their goal and too focused on the urgency of their work.

4. Good leaders are students.

In the same way that human beings are constantly evolving, so too are leaders. As long as you are living, you have the potential to learn. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you think you have; you can always learn something new.

I have the experience of thinking I was doing everything right as a manager, only to receive conflicting feedback from my team. Perhaps my approach was not working for my team, and I had to be willing to hear their feedback to improve.

Good leaders understand that their secret sauce is their willingness to keep receiving information and keep learning. They aren’t intimidated by what they do not know: As long as they maintain a willingness to keep growing, they believe they can overcome any obstacle they face.

Advertising

As both masters and students, good leaders read, listen and study to grow. They consume content for information, not just entertainment purposes. They aren’t impressed with their knowledge; they are impressed with the learning journey.

5. Good leaders view vulnerability as a superpower.

It means “replacing ‘professional distance and cool,’ with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” said Emma Sappala in a Dec. 11, 2014, article, “What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable” for Harvard Business Journal.[2] She went on to note the importance of human connection, which she asserts is often missing at work.

“As leaders and employees, we are often taught to keep a distance and project a certain image. An image of confidence, competence and authority. We may disclose our vulnerability to a spouse or close friend behind closed doors at night but we would never show it elsewhere during the day, let alone at work.”

This rings so true for me as a woman leader. I was raised believing that any show of emotion in the workplace could be used against me. I was raised believing that it was best for women leaders to be stoic and to “never let ‘em see you sweat.” This may have prevented me from connecting with employees and colleagues on a deeper, more personal level.

6. Good leaders understand themselves.

I am a huge fan of life coach and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant. In addition to her hit show on the OWN network, Vanzant has authored dozens of books. In her books and teachings, she underscores the importance of knowing ourselves fully. She argues that we must know what makes us tick, what makes us happy and what makes us angry.

Self-awareness enables us to put ourselves in situations where we can thrive, and it also enables us to have compassion when we fall short of the goals and expectations we have for ourselves. Relatedly, understanding ourselves will allow us to know our strength. When we know our strengths, we will be able to put people around us who compliment our strengths and fill the gaps in our leadership.

Final Thoughts

Being a good leader, first and foremost, is an inside job. You must focus on growing as a person regardless of the leadership title that you hold. You cannot take others where you yourself have not been. So focusing on yourself, regardless of your time or where you are in your career will have long term benefits for you and the people around you.

Advertising

Further, if you want to become a good leader, you should start by setting the intention to do so. What you focus on grows. If you focus on becoming a better leader, you will research and invest in things that help you to fulfill this intention. You will also view the good and bad leadership experiences as steppingstones that hone your character and help you improve.

After you set the intention, get really clear on what a good leader looks like to you. Each of us has a different understanding of leadership. Is a good leader someone who takes risk? Is a good leader, in your estimation, someone who develops other leaders? Whatever it is, know what you’re shooting for. Once you define what it means to be a good leader, look for people who exemplify your vision. Watch and engage with them if you can.

Finally, understand that becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight. You must continually work at improving, investing in yourself and reflecting on what is going well and what you must improve. In this way, every experience is an opportunity to grow and a chance to ask: ‘What is this experience trying to teach me?’ or ‘what action is necessary based on this situation?’

If you are committed to questioning, evaluating and acting, you are that much closer to becoming a better leader.

More About Effective Leadership

Featured photo credit: Sam Power via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why Good Managers Overcome the Desire to Be Liked
[2] Harvard Business Journal: What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable

Read Next