Have you ever sought out a new job opportunity but felt “I’m not special enough” or “I don’t have a unique skill?” One universal theme employers seek is how a candidate can add value to their current team. The truth is, we are all unique and we all have a gift to give. You might be surprised to find out all the unique talents you have which will help you improve self-confidence after going through these four exercises.
- Make a list of important life experiences
More than once, young professionals who lacked work experience would ask me how to persuade potential employers that they’re ready, even though they don’t have much work experience. I had the exact same concern until I joined TTI Success Insights! Little did I realize, all experience is valuable, not just job experience, and I should appreciate myself as a complete person with unique talents.
Our experience, especially milestones in life shape us into who we are today. Make a list of 10 things you experienced from childhood to undergraduate school which have had a big impact on you. Use a sentence or two to describe what these impactful moments.
It might be something as small as a science project you created in middle school, or as big as the national chess competition you won. It can be physical - that marathon you ran with your father, or mental - those challenging years when you played Mom’s role to take care of your siblings when your parents were away.
As an example, let me share a few important experiences I had before I started my career. When I was seven, my father saw my potential and took me to calligraphy class. At first I didn’t like it that much, but I developed my passion through years of practice.
In college I dedicated long hours to my studies, starting as early as 5:30am and studying as late at 11:00pm, hopping from place to place, in order to achieve my goal of having a GPA in the top 2% of my major.
I changed my major once and transferred school three times. At age 20, I relocated to Copenhagen to create the challenge of living in a foreign environment. I spent six months in Copenhagen and learned how to cook while I was there. While none of this was work experience, it was life experience, which can be even more valuable.
- Summarize skills you can teach others
When writing down life experiences, do you find any common threads in those peak or valley moments you had? If so, please take a closer look and examine what makes those moments so special.
For the peak moments, ask yourself: “What was I doing and which part did I enjoy the most?” “How did I get there?” “What am I the most proud of?”
If it’s a low moment, think about how you solved a problem or handled challenges. Do you identify similarities among environments where you tend to thrive?
I gathered a few of my coachee’s answers for your inspiration. Wendy said her best self emerges in environments that are open and friendly. She is very good at connecting people and relationships to achieve mutual goals.
Sarah realized she is someone who is very determined, persistent and always able to motivate herself and others even in times that seem completely hopeless. Sam said he is great critical thinker and always knows how to look at things from a different perspective.
Who said we have to separate work and our personal life? It’s a battle we will never win. Those life skills helped us achieve our greatest joy or helped us to survive during a critical time in our life. These skills are something we can share and teach others. Of course they can also be applied in workplace. After all, skills are transferable. Can you imagine what would it would look like if everyone used their natural talents at work?
- Search for your dreams
Our passions are something that’s unique and incomparable to others. We may not realize this if our passions are unclear to us.
According to Barbara Shear, the godmother of life coaching, we were all geniuses at one time; geniuses with abundant curiosity and courage. This was when we were children. As we grow up, we limit our talents due to all kinds of circumstances and lose the dreams, along with the opportunities to nurture those talents.
If you are like me, you might also be troubled by the fact that you couldn’t pick a single passion due to having several unique interests. Thankfully, over the course of our lives we have the time and opportunities to chase several different passions. If you are willing to experience everything you can, doors will open and opportunities will unfold.
I recently came to the conclusion that it’s actually a good thing to have multiple dreams and I want to have it all! Life is a buffet.
My favorite exercise to reveal dreams is called “five lives.” Before you start, please forget reality for a moment and search deep within your mind for your wildest dreams. Don’t worry about the order of priority and, for now, pretend you can have it all.
Answer the following question: “If you can live five lives (meaning living five times over and over) what would you like to do?” Think about what careers you want to pursue. My list looks like this: a martial arts master, a sci-fi fiction writer, an engine inventor, a wood-craft artist and a body trainer.
Whether it’s a childhood dream that you almost forgot, or something you could benefit from having more often, these things must make your list for a reason. They’re part of the unique you. When pursuing our ideal life by pursuing our passions, we gain energy, feel naturally “in the flow” and become more productive.
- Leverage ALL compliments you can get
Nothing is more powerful than receiving compliments when it comes to building self-confidence and a sense of self-appreciation. Although we all have a general idea of what we’re good at and how people may perceive us, seeing our good traits through others’ lenses provides a new perspective of who we are.
We have many opportunities to receive compliments, from people that we love, people we work with, or even strangers. However, not all compliments are equal. The more respect and adoration you have toward that person, the bigger impact his or her recognition will have on you. In her book Wishcraft, Shear introduced the exercise of imagining compliments from imagined family members.
For this exercise, pick anyone in the entire world to be your family. Feel free to pick someone from history and literature if you’d like. Then imagine they are in the same room with you. Observe what you are doing and how you do it. What would they see and how would they praise you?
Even though this is an imagined world, surrounding yourself with people who live a life you admire can help recreate a perfect nurturing environment for you. In an ideal environment, our talents can bloom to the fullest.
While a person’s behaviors and communication style may be observable, there is so much more underneath the surface for us to reveal, appreciate and leverage. That includes our experiences, interests, passions, core values, skills that we enjoy using or haven’t yet developed. To build a complete picture of who we are and enhance our self-awareness, we all can benefit from understanding our talents from multiple angles.
Talents are like sunshine, it doesn't belong to a few of us, it belongs to everyone.
To learn more about what motivates you, check out this blog entitled "How to Align Your Behaviors with Your Motivators."