by Gay Gaddis | Published by Ivy


[ARTICLE] We all have strengths and weaknesses. I have developed a pretty strong point of view regarding how you deal with both.

It starts with being absolutely honest with yourself about what you are good at and what you are not. Being able to stand back and see yourself objectively is critical.

Write down your strengths on a piece of paper. Then go down that list and ask yourself: If fully developed, which of your strengths could you be better at than anyone else. Focus on a few of those strengths and walk away from your weaknesses.

Here’s an example. One of the lessons my father taught me was to “meet people where they are.” To him, that meant no matter how rich or how poor someone was, it was his responsibility to find a way to connect with them; a way to make them comfortable. That ability was always on my strengths list.

Early in my career I learned about the MBTI Assessment – a tool that identifies which one of 16 different personality types you are most like. I was fascinated with the insights that came from understanding people’s type, because it taught me ways to connect quickly with them on a deeper emotional level. I believed if I worked hard at it, I might be able to do this better than almost anyone else.

I doubled down on learning everything I could about personality types. I worked with a consulting firm that taught team-building best practices in major corporations. It became almost instinctive to me. I could spend a little time with almost anyone and be able to predict their type about 85% of the time. As I studied and practiced these skills, I quickly became more competent in understanding the nuances of understanding personality type. And, that competence became a source of personal power. I could speak confidently because I had done the hard work. I was able to be legitimately assertive.

I found my personal power early in my career because of that simple lesson my dad taught me. I built on it and became an expert. That power helped me form close relationships with my teammates and my clients. I learned to address large groups because I had the assurance that I had something that was important to share. I learned how powerful humor was in public speaking and how sharing some vulnerability could open paths of communication with an audience.

I developed my personal power step by step. I studied how to run a company financially. I practiced the power of building an environment were teams of creative people could thrive and love to work together. I discovered that what I enjoyed the most was helping people succeed. I learned that we each have the power to make things better. Without realizing it at the time, I went through life building buckets and buckets of goodwill.  If I could help a friend’s daughter get an internship, I did it. If a client needed advice, I was there. I was invited to join C200, a leading women’s organization, and have spent the last 12 years getting to know some the most powerful women in the world. Each of them has a story like mine. By looking at their strengths, each of them found a platform to build upon, step by step. They are amazing, strong women.

So ask yourself, what can you do better than anyone else? It is a bodacious question. And the better question probably is, “If I work hard and bust my butt, what might I learn to be better at than anyone else?”

Be brutally realistic about your strengths and weaknesses. If you need to, ask a few people who know you well to help. By focusing on your unique strengths you can find your personal power and achieve more than you have ever imagined.

Own your own power and go out and create buckets and buckets of goodwill. Expect nothing in return. Life will reward you in wonderfully unexpected ways.