Hi everyone, apologies for the lateness of this Blog but the last few weeks have been quite a whirlwind, in a good way, as we all attempt a bit more normality now the kids are back at school.
At the end of this post I’ll share what I’ve been up to because it all links, but firstly let’s talk about your strengths and where this has all come from.
We’ve been talking a lot about this in our WOW Wednesday Membership as a crucial part of doing the background work that makes the upfront work a whole lot easier. So that includes all the things I’ve been talking about so far in the Blogs this year, like working out what your values are, the direction you want to go in and using guiding words and creating a vision board to help that process.
So why is it important to work out your strengths?
Digging deep into this may feel awkward and maybe even a bit icky, we are not great as humans at celebrating ourselves, especially in the UK, it’s just not the British thing to do BUT it is a hugely important piece of work if you want to grow and move forwards.
In simple terms, if we don’t understand what are strengths are, how are we going to utilise them in our lives and the work that we do? It’s like working out what tools you have to assist you in climbing a mountain, one step at a time.
It can take a lifetime to figure out our strengths, I’ll be honest, it’s only in the last 4 years since I’ve left corporate life and tried new things that I now know the direction I want to go in and what my real strengths are.
And that’s why giving yourself permission to experiment with new experiences is also key to this discovery work, because you may find strengths that you never knew existed when you stretch out of your comfort zone and test yourself.
So how do you discover yours?
Some may seem obvious to you (hopefully!), such as qualifications and jobs that you have that validate or increase your skills plus family and friends appreciating and telling you! But there are other ways to discover your strengths too, through the clever questions in personality questionnaires. These then pool the answers and shine a light on your key personality traits, including your top strengths.
I’ve found a few to be particularly useful, and you may have done some of these already, but it can be useful to go back and do again after a few years, to see if anything has changed, as we grow and adapt through our life experiences.
The first one is the Myers Briggs, or 16 personalities quiz. This one is the most in depth I think, and of all the people I know who have taken it, seems the most accurate as participants gasp as the end at their collated results, usually exclaiming ‘Wow, that is totally me!’.
What I like about this quiz is that it gives you some direction, such as careers you may flourish in, how to approach relationships, or thing to look out for that may not suit you.
I’m an INFPA type, or Mediator as it’s otherwise known, and we are one of the rarer types of the 16 personalities, making up just 4-5% of the population. Everything about its description is spot on for me, and knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are, gives you a more insightful view of your future. Once we are aware of our strengths, we then know where to channel our focus and efforts for the most personal, and purposeful success.
The Four Tendencies Quiz – Gretchen Ruben
Understanding how you work and respond to outside influences and expectations is an absolute game-changer in terms of motivation. Taking part in this quiz brings shows you how to use your tendency to get things done, the different types being; Obliger, Rebel, Questioner, or an Upholder.
And this type can change throughout your life. I used to be an Obliger, especially as a marketeer working towards deadlines in my previous career, but now I’m more of a questioner. Gretchen writes that Questioners wake up and think ‘What needs to get done today and why’ and only tend to take direction from people they respect – yep that’s me to a tee!
Meanwhile my husband is a Rebel, and boy does that bring challenges, but knowing his ‘tendency’ armours me with the knowledge of how to approach things and find a compromise – the key with him is making him think it was his idea all along as they don’t like to take direction from anyone else but themselves! – see there are definite benefits understanding the different types!
Which brings me to the last quiz – The Love Languages Quiz! There are 5 love languages apparently:
How you rate these in terms of importance to you, helps you to find your ‘love language’. Now if one of you is speaking in a ‘thoughtful words’ way whilst the other is reciting ‘acts of service’ then it’s going to take some learning to communicate, but at least by knowing this we are all less likely to take offence if we feel like our partner doesn’t care – they may just be speaking their ‘love’ in a different way. Taking this quiz, may just save your relationship.
Understanding all these things about yourself can only help you to move forwards and identify what you truly desire in life and where your passion and purpose lays. Truly knowing your strengths inside and out builds your confidence too, because for once you believe it about yourself. Knowing your strengths helps to eliminate doubt, it simply becomes fact and the more you believe it, the more others will too and so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
And that’s not being big-headed, we all have strengths, and we all have weaknesses, but the key is to not let your weaknesses undermine your strengths and let them take over – easier said than done I know – i.e., go away imposter syndrome!
A word on weaknesses – yes we have them too
Knowing your weaknesses is a strength in itself, so long as it doesn’t belittle your confidence by dwelling on them. Understanding what you are less good at, just allows you to be more efficient, AND may give others a sense of purpose and confidence by you allowing them to help you.
For example, I am useless at most things numbers and forms related, they are like my kryptonite and bring me out in a cold sweat, BUT because I know this, I seek help, from the people who have this in their skillset, so what does that achieve?
Well, it means the person I ask feels good that they can help me, and it won’t take them long to do because they are highly skilled at it, which saves precious time. I am eternally grateful because I can focus my time on what I am good at, and working together in this collaborative way helps both of us and boosts our relationship. Meanwhile there may be some written website content or creative skill I can help them with, it’s a win-win all round.
USP – Your uniqueness is your diamond, make sure you polish it – as Holly Tucker (MBE) always says.
If you are creating a business that is a personal brand, Holly recommends selecting 5 unique things about yourself that then becomes your brand heart – and these are the parts to share on social media to be consistent. You can easily use your strengths as part of this exercise too.
Think about the main aspects of your life and which parts are uniquely you, this could include where you live, the materials you use in your work, your worth ethic, so many different things. All about what you’d like to be known for, and the values and strengths you represent.
For me it would include these topics and features I think:
These are all the things that I regularly talk about and share images of via my social media, so it becomes consistent, and my followers know what to expect from me and what my strengths are.
What would be the components of your brand heart? I’d love to know.
Once you know all this, what next?
So that brings me to the next part. Once you know all this stuff, it makes life so much easier, including the things to say YES to and the things to say a ‘firm’ no to.
Which brings me to what I’ve been busy with lately, the new writing groups I’ve set up. Pre-lockdown and pre-cancer, I used to run writing workshops at a local café, and they went down really well. Since lockdown and everything else, I’ve really missed this challenge, coming up with prompts and ideas to fire up my participants imagination, and watch their stories take off on the page as they beaver away writing.
That was until some of the WOW Wednesday members asked me to consider doing a regular online writing group. I set the first one up back at the beginning of Feb, and 2 weeks ago a second one. And this is how you know when you are in your lane and using your strengths because I absolutely LOVE doing it. And here’s why:
I gain so much from running these groups, and that’s why it’s so important to understand your strengths, because it can bring you so much joy when you use them wisely. If people hadn’t known that this was a strength of mine, they would never have asked and trusted me to set up these groups, that they now belong to.
The more you use your strengths, the more you are polishing that diamond and finding your passion and purpose.
So, take the time to discover yours, via your own thoughts (trust your gut, it’s rarely wrong), those closest to you (if in doubt ask 5 close friends / family) and the personality tests I’ve suggested.
Then write your strengths list and start thinking how to use them to your advantage, and go get that happier, more fulfilled life you desire and deserve.
Until next time…
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
Ps If you would like to register your interest for one of my writing groups, please click here. There are just 2 spaces left on the Friday eve session – 6-7.30pm but if that time doesn’t suit, I’ll add you to the waiting list for the next one.
PPs If you are local to Huddersfield, I’ve now started selling my needlefelt pictures and art cards at the newly opened Joys Coffee House in Kirkburton. They are open 8.30am – 4pm most days for take-aways for now until restrictions lift, serving breakfast, brunches, lunches, cakes and hot drinks, pop along and support local :-).
And finally have you noticed the stories I’ve been putting on my Instagram to support Shannon of @mockingbird_makes #makemarchmagic project? Each day a creative small business (31 in total) is sharing a unique offer, so keep an eye out each day and I’ll be sharing my offer too on the 31st of March!