“A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.” Solomon
This is one of my favorite all time quotes. It is also one of the pearls of wisdom that kept Nelson Mandela inspired with hope while he spent 27 years incarcerated as a political prisoner in South Africa. It is an ancient proverb that is about 3000 years old. I am amazed that this stellar advice was recognized and documented so many years ago and it is just as valid today just as it was way back then.
In today’s world of increasing speed, complexity and globalization it is critical that we understand our gifts or strengths. We need to understand these strengths and leverage these whenever and wherever we can. This takes a lot of work and a lot of honesty. It takes effort to determine where we have strengths and to admit where we are weak. It takes effort to determine how to take our strengths and leverage them properly into the work that we do. It can be painful to admit our areas of weakness and bring people around us to bolster those weak areas. However, if we do not do this then we are selling ourselves and our businesses short. You will never reach your full potential as a person. You or your business will never reach its potential unless you can get yourself and the whole organization operating in their areas of strength and offering their strengths where others are weak.
According to Gallup’s 40 year research on strengths, people are six times more likely to be engaged at work if more time is spent building their strengths than trying to fix their weaknesses. This means that if our organizations would make one simple change – focusing on strengths instead of fixing weaknesses – that our people and therefore our organizations would be significantly more productive and effective.
So where do you start?
There are many tools and options out in the marketplace to help with this activity. I believe the best place to start is to;
1) Understand your personal values
2) Understand your personality and communication style
3) Understand your talents
There is a great description of this process in a book that I wrote in 2006 entitled Strength Zone. It is more of a workbook that describes a process of profiles and reflection that will help you determine your areas of strength. It is no longer officially in print but you can download a free PDF version of Strength Zone by going to the Business Tools page. Note that the websites listed in the book are no longer valid but the material is still very valid.
There are many other resources available that can help with this process. I have listed a few of these below;
1) Personality profiling tool called DISC
b. Simple DISC profile – DISC Exercise (download this from the Business Tools page)
c. Pat Pitsel
2) Strengthsfinder site and books (note that you just need one of the books listed below to take the profile).
5) Enneagram – this is a personality profile assessment
6) Myers Briggs – this is a personality profile assessment
7) Values profile exercise – Values Sort (download this from the Business Tools page)
It is easy to get overwhelmed with the many tools and processes available (what is listed above is just a fraction of what is available in the marketplace). The most important thing you can do is to just jump in and get started.
This is a lifelong learning process and not a one shot deal. I have worked through every one of the profiles listed above (and many more) and I have learned something from each one. I would highly recommend starting with the Values Sort (download this from the Business Tools page) and then the DISC Insight profile and then doing the Strengthsfinder profile.
Invest the time in your future by identifying your gifts and leveraging them wherever you can in whatever you are doing. Remember what Solomon said: “A man’s gifts make room for him and brings him before great men.” Get started today focusing on your gifts and talents and build a life you will be proud of!
“To find your business’s niche, you must learn your own abilities and talents.” Levi Brackman