Your Strengths Are the Path to Excellence
What is the one strength that - if you worked on it - would make the
difference in your profession? Is it your ability to draw pictures? Translate
feelings into beautiful visual images? Take words and put them into persuasive
sentences? Are you especially clever with numbers? Can you sing acappella? Can
you inspire people at work? The answers to all these questions will be clues to
your natural talents, and most likely to your true purpose in life.
Acknowledging and dedicating yourself to your natural talents is the path to
excellence, success, and effortless abundance.
One of my gifts has always been my ability of asking questions. It seems
others appreciate that I ask questions in a non-threatening way that allows
others to see their own issues and usually the solutions to their problems. I
took this gift for granted for many years. As someone who was in medical
training, I thought this was a normal thing to do. Inquiring, and trying to get
to the root of peoples’ illnesses was all part of becoming a doctor.
I realized that this was not such an easy task for every medical student.
Later on, when I abandoned the medical profession and started working in the
business realm, the same gift helped me again. My ability to ask the right
questions at the right moments helped technical projects to move ahead, made
people feel good about themselves, and brought business satisfaction within very
challenging operations. Once again, I was focusing all my energy in developing
other special competencies of mine, but not acknowledging my natural gift. Why?
Only after 30 something years did I realized that my gift - my brilliance -
lies in my ability to ask questions. Once I internalized this wisdom,
acknowledged my gift, and stopped denying it, I was able to find my true path in
life and start doing work in a way that is deeply fulfilling. The beauty of it
is - once you stop fighting it - you get answers to all the things that you once
had questions about. You are still working hard, but excellence comes much more
So many people, when asked what they are gifted at, reply either “I don’t
know” or “nothing.” How sad! I am pretty confident that you have at least one
thing that you do well. If you do not know about it, then ask your family or
friends and they will point something out. Everyone has something unique to
offer in this world. Some have strengths that are abundantly obvious. Others,
like me, have gifts that may take some investigation to uncover.
Knowing your strengths will allow you to tap into your inner desires, from
which you can plot your path of life. Everything is interrelated. Your strengths
will reveal your true blueprint in life.
Whether you’ve discovered your strengths or not, the sad truth is that most
people do not take the time to develop their gifts. A prime example is the
person who works hard, struggling to rise to the top, while ignoring the very
things that come naturally to them. Unfortunately, it happens every day.
One of the reasons this happens is that our gifts - the things that come very
easily to us – are often ignored, or smothered by other duties. Let me explain.
One client of mine, a marketing strategist, built his business using his
natural strength (gift) of building relationships. He loved connecting with
clients, meeting new people, and personally interacting with others. However, as
other business responsibilities set in, he found himself laying his primary
strength aside and devoting more time to mundane duties. The result? He began to
degrade in his level of excellence. Without focusing his contribution to the
business on his strength – he, personally and professionally, started to suffer.
Once he acknowledged this - he readjusted his schedule, dropped all
administrative tasks that did not require his personal attention, and devoted
two-hours of his time to re-cultivating old relationships and building new ones.
Within a few months, his business boomed, he felt great and he had more time.
Are you like me? Are you unsure of what your natural gifts are? It took me a
long time to realize mine. The tips below will help you pinpoint the strengths
you have that can lead you down the path to excellence.
1. Make a list of the specific things (no more than three) that come easily
for you. You may not see them as “special” (like my ability to ask the right
questions) but if you are naturally adept at them, write them on your list.
2. Decide how committed are you to dedicating money and time to developing
3. If you are willing to do what is needed to develop these strengths, set
some deadlines. Research classes, activities or counselors who can help you
expand on your gifts.
4. Find a “mentor” or someone else who will support you in your efforts to
5. Put a measurable return on your investment. Create a list of reasonable
accomplishments that you hope to make after developing your gifts.
6. Think big! Who is your role model, who is expert in your field? Study them
and then see if you like any of their development strategies.
The key here is to remain persistent with the development of your strengths.
Many people have paid great sums of money for the help of experts. If you do not
feel you are able to grow solely with the help of a mentor, by all means – hire
a coach or consultant. The end result of having peace and confidence in your
personal and professional life will be well worth the cost!
© 2002 Carole Nicolaides
Carole is President and Leadership Coach of Progressive
Leadership, a management consulting firm that specializes in improving
organizational effectiveness, leadership performance and profitability through
developing employees’ soft skills and building upon their strengths. Visit
http://www.progressiveleadership.com for more info & subscribe to Carole’s