Are you making the most of who you are? (Part 1)

I often hear, and have used, the phrase “maximising your potential” in the context of personal and professional development.

But what does it mean in practice?

From your perspective …

In order to make the most of who you are, you need to recognise what you have; your skills, strengths, qualities, etc.

How often do we do this? During training events and coaching sessions, when I ask people to list their strengths, they often find this difficult. Lack of practice? Lack of awareness? The concern about not wanting to appear big-headed? Once you get started though, it’s surprising how your list grows! And there’s nothing wrong with celebrating your talents, successes and achievements. In fact it’s very healthy!

When building your list of skills / strengths, it helps to break it down into different areas of your life:

Work – e.g. reliable, organised, time-keeping, leading meetings

Family – e.g. ability to juggle many tasks, decision-making, organisation, creativity

Friends – e.g. trustworthy, honest, reliable, spending time with them

Hobbies & interests – e.g. running, cooking, playing a musical instrument

Some skills / strengths may cross over into more than one area, as you can see from the examples above.

Have fun making up your lists! We’ll come back to these in Part 2.

From others’ perspectives …

Other people often see us in a different light to how we see ourselves; they recognise positive qualities and strengths that we don’t necessarily see.

Finding out our strengths from others is a good way to top up our own list. You could also ask yourself, “What would (my close friend) say I’m good at?”; which could elicit a few more items for your list!

A useful task I’ve used before to gain feedback from others is “Ask 6 People 6 Questions”. Here’s how it works …

1. Make a list of at least* 6 people from different areas of your life (work, family, friends, clubs, associations, etc). The more varied the better; it will give you a good cross-section of responses and potentially more strengths / qualities / skills. Make sure they are people you believe will give you an honest response to your questions, and not just say what they think you want to hear.

*Thinking of more than 6 helps if some people you ask don’t have time.

2. Provide them with a list of the following questions:

  • What am I good at?
  • When have you seen me at my best?
  • What should I do more of?
  • What should I do less of?
  • What can you rely on me for?
  • Where do you think I can stretch myself?

They are suitably vague and non-leading. Encourage your responders to answer the questions as fully as they can.

3. If they (or you) want the responses to be anonymous, you could ask a trusted friend / colleague if the responses could be emailed (or posted) to them. The friend will then collate the responses and send you them, with names omitted. I usually find people don’t want / need to do this, but it’s entirely up to you. Do what works best.

Some of these questions may give you responses that highlight areas that you see as ‘weaknesses’. We’ll come back to this in Part 2, when I will look at interpreting the results from this exercise, as well as what to do with the lists you have devised for yourself.

In the meantime, make a note of the things you do well over the coming week, and make sure these things are somewhere on your lists. Also listen out for positive feedback from others. Does this reflect a skill / strength you’ve so far omitted?

(Photo credit: Danilo Rizzuti)

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2 Responses to “Are you making the most of who you are? (Part 1)”

  1. Marcia Says:

    Great information not only for myself but my own clients. Looking out for part two.

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