How to Find and Do Work You Love: Find and Use Your Strengths & Weaknesses

In his epic TED talk, “How to Find and Do Work You Love”, Scott Dinsmore found 3 things that inspiring and successful people do to live their dreams.

  1. Become a self expert.
  • Know your strengths & weaknesses.
  • Identify your values.
  • Learn from your unique experiences.
  1. Do YOUR Impossible.
  2. Surround yourself with inspiring people.

 

So, to find the work that we can’t not do, we’re going to break down each step into bite-sizable chunks.

First on the block, strengths and weaknesses.

Just what is a strength? And a weakness?

How do we find them?

And then how do we use them?

Good questions.

By the end of this post, consider yourself in the know.

Let’s go.

What Is A Strength?

Go on, have a punt. The definition of a strength.

If you’re anything like me, it’s a pretty gnarly question.

Here’s what some refutable internet sources have to say;

Strength: A personal attribute that’s been cultivated over many years. Think work-ethic, creativity, honesty, reliability etc.

Cool.

So what’s a skill?

Skill: An ability which can be cultivated with a certain amount of training. Like shooting a basketball, learning long-division or structuring essays.

Now, what’s a weakness? The opposite of a strength, right?

Weakness: A negative character attribute or character virtue.

Cool beans.

How to Identify your Strengths and Weaknesses

After much trial and error, here’s the most reliable way I’ve found to do it.

The more time you invest into the process, the better it works. After all, we are trying to become self-experts here.

Ok.

  1. First, think for yourself. What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses?

Take 5-10 minutes to jot down your ideas on paper.

Ask yourself these questions to get the brain cogs turning.

Strengths

“What do you do better than everyone else?” or “What do you do better than the average person?”

“What would your boss/friends/family/teachers say are your strengths?

“What values do you believe in that others don’t show?”

“Which character virtues do I have?”

Weaknesses

“What tasks do you usually avoid because you don’t feel confident doing them?”

“What would your boss/friends/family/arch-nemesis say are your weaknesses?”

“What are your self-destructive habits?”

“What things hold you back at school/at work/in relationships…?”

 

Again, spend at least 10-15 minutes on this.

Ask yourself these probing questions, and take a good look inwards.

….

Have a rough draft of what might be your strengths and weaknesses?

Awesome.

  1. Now look at the list of 24 Character Strengths

Ok, now you’re self-expert juices are flowing, you’re ready for the next step.

Go to http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths/VIA-Classification.

On there, there’s a list of 24 character strengths, put into different categories.

First of all, just have a good nosy at everything that’s on there. Then…

  1. Go through the list, and pick out 5 of your strengths.

When I was doing this, I found that I tended to pick out character strengths that I would like to have, or deeply admired in other people, or that I’m working towards.

To stop yourself from doing this, ask yourself again;

“What do I do better than everyone else?” or “What do I do better than the average person?”

That’ll focus your mind on what you have at the moment, and not what you’re aiming for.

Write down your 5 once you’ve got them.

  1. Pick out 5 things that could use the MOST improvement.

Be honest with yourself. Take your time. What could be improved the most? What would others say are your weaknesses?

…..

Ok, got your 5 strengths and 5 weaknesses?

Awesome.

Now here’s the idea.

  1. Go through each strength, and write down your skills associated with them. Go through each weakness, and write down the destructive behaviours associated with them.

Behind each of your strengths will be certain skills. Behind each of your weaknesses, will be a set of…. anti-skills, or destructive beliefs or behaviours.

Go through each of your strengths and write down the skills associated with each one. There’s probably going to be some common themes running through them.

Afterwards, do the weaknesses. Identifying limiting behaviours and the things that you need to work on.

  1. Consider what your strengths mean finding the work you love. Think of how to improve your weaknesses.

For the good of Dream Big Start small, I offer myself as the sacrificial Guinea pig;

Here’s my list of strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths Weaknesses/Areas for Improvement
Love of Learning Judgement
Perseverance Perspective
Honesty Bravery
Zest Humour
Hope Gratitude

 

Now, what are the skills, and destructive behaviours I can learn from each strength and weakness?

Strengths:

Love of Learning: I love to learn new things. Consequently, I’m unafraid of change, and throwing myself into uncomfortable situations. My philosophy: jump off the cliff, and learn to fly on the way down.

If I’m learning something new, I’ll be quite happy to work my ass off. I NEED to be learning, and evolving. If I’m not learning, I’m not living.

Perseverance: I’ll work hard to get something done – strong work ethic. Obstacles aren’t problems, but simply opportunities to grow and learn. The road to your goals is marred in sweat, blood and dust, but that makes the end so satisfying. Hard work is always worth it, and something isn’t worth it without hard work.

I see failure as a necessary step in the learning process. You’re supposed to fail. Grit. In fact, if you’re not failing, then you’re not challenging yourself enough.

Honesty: I don’t like lying to people, and will always try to do what I believe is right. I’ll admit to my mistakes, and take responsibility for my actions.

Honesty might hurt in the short-term, but long-term, honesty always wins.

Zest: I love doing stuff. I like to think I bring enthusiasm and passion to whatever I’m working on. Thus, I like to think I bring energy wherever I’m at, and give things my best shot.

Hope: I see a world full of incredible opportunities, and am excited about the future.  I’m eager to accept new challenges, and have an optimistic view about life. I believe anything is possible.

What have I learned?

Well, I’m going to need to do something that allows me to constantly be learning, plus challenging. I want to take responsibility, and for my energy to affect what I’m doing.

There’s no way I could be doing the same thing, day in day out.

Weaknesses and areas for improvement:

Judgement: Can make rash decisions, and I easily jump to conclusions. Especially about people. I’m way too judgemental. Way too quick to judge.

How to improve: Don’t see the world so black and white. See the grey area, and put myself in other’s shoes.

Perspective: I don’t see things from other people’s perspective, hence very judgemental.

I always think I’m right, and have an answer for everything, so a lot of the time it’s “My way or the highway.”

How to improve: Practice seeing things from other people’s perspectives. Admit that I’m wrong, and talk to people with opposing views.

Bravery: The character virtue I admire most, and place the most importance on. Although I’m quite happy throwing myself “off the cliff and learning to fly on the way down”, there are TONS of areas I need to work on.

I’m way too much of a people pleaser, and need to work on saying “NO!” more often. I also need to put myself out there more, and become a more out-going person.

How to Improve: Take the initiative in social situations. Say No.

Humour: Most of the time, I take myself too seriously, and need to lighten up.

How to Improve: Incorporate crazy dancing into morning routine, smile like a Cheshire cat, listen to comedy more.

Gratitude: I take things for granted. I need to appreciate what I have, and the beautiful things around me more.

How to Improve: Start the day by asking “What am I happy about?”, “What am I grateful for?”

So there we have it.

Takeaway: How to Find and Use Your Strengths and Weaknesses.

Here’s what we’ve covered.

  1. First, think for yourself. What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses?

“What do I do better than everyone else?” “What tasks do I avoid doing because I’m not confident doing them.”

  1. Go to http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths/VIA-Classification and have a good look at the 24 character strengths.
  2. Go through the list, and pick out 5 of your strengths. “What do I do better than the average person?”
  3. Find your 5 areas for improvement. “What could I improve on the MOST?”
  4. Write down the skills associated with your strengths, and the destructive behaviours with your weaknesses.
  5. Ask yourself what your strengths mean for the work that you can’t not do, and steps you can take on your weaknesses.

 

If you’ve spent time doing this, you’re one step closer to becoming a self-expert and finding the work you can’t not do.

Awesome!

What do you think? Join the discussion on our facebook group! Has this inspired any 30-day challenges?

As always,

Dream Big Start Small!

Love you all, (gratitude in action)

Iain

 


References:

https://www.wetfeet.com/articles/defining-your-strengths-and-weaknesses

http://www.enkivillage.com/list-of-strengths-and-weakness.html

http://www.tickle-project.eu/toolbox/material/materials_netherlands/Link_5_List_%20of_%20strengths_%20and_%20weaknesses.pdf

http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths/VIA-Classification