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How to Find Your Strengths (Part 3)
Avthar’s Weekly Newsletter #13 (7/24/2020)
Hello from New York City!
Welcome to lucky edition #13 of Avthar’s Weekly Email. This is where I share practical wisdom about startups, learning, health and happiness, all to help you level up your own life. There’s now 160 of you wonderful people in our community, all leveling up together.
What’s in this week’s newsletter?
This week I’m continuing with the third and final part of the series “How to Find Your Strengths”.
Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve covered so far:
In Part 3 (this email!), it’s time to process our results and apply them to our lives.
Let’s get after it, together!
PS. Be sure to check out the 💪 Reflected Best Self Starter Kit I put together at the end of this post, to help you kickstart your journey to finding your strengths!
The Reflected Best Self is a powerful exercise that gives you a 360 degree view of your strengths. During the RBS exercise, you’ll look outward and collect and synthesize feedback from people who’ve seen you at your best in various spheres of your life, both personal and professional.
The RBS will help you examine the impact you’ve made on people in different parts of your life and nudge you to redesign your life around your strengths, so that you can maximize impact and personal fulfillment.
At the end, you’ll be able to answer the question, “When am I at my best?”
⁉️If you missed Step 1 and Step 2, you an catch up by reading this post.
Today, we’ll cover Steps 3,4 and 5 and see how to apply what we learn to redesign our lives.
Step 3: Look for patterns in the responses
After you’ve gathered all your responses, process them to find patterns.
Responses will cluster together around themes. Several people might point to the same skill or same context in which you’re at your best. Some might point to things that you may have not initially thought of as areas of strength (often interpersonal skills). Rest assured that if you’ve asked a large enough sample of people, there will be commonalities and things that keep coming up that you won’t be able to ignore.
Make sure to note down recurring themes, even if you initially don't agree with them.
We often internalize our expertise and activities of maximum impact so much that we don’t consider them to be strengths.
Pro tip: To help you process the responses, you can create a table of common themes, instances of the theme, who noticed and your interpretation:
After you’ve boiled down the responses into themes, you’ll also notice intersections and connections between them. These themes will give a very good picture of how you're actually creating value in the world, and how you're actually impacting people.
As an example, here’s some of the themes which emerged from my 2020 RBS and how I saw them connecting together:
Step 4: Compose Your Self Portrait
Create a self portrait of who you are when you are at your best, combining reflection (internal inputs) and RBS themes (external inputs).
The self portrait is your answer to the question: “Who am I when I’m at my best?”
It’s also the answer to the question, “What are my strengths?”, because you’re at your best, when using your strengths in the contexts they shine the most!
Here we combine the themes surfaced from our RBS responses, with reflection on our own strengths, passions, interests and skills (as detailed in Part 1).
This combination of external and internal inputs is closer to the truth about your strengths than if you just took each of them in isolation.
As an example, here’s a visual representation of my best self combining my internal reflection and RBS themes:
Your self portrait is a 1-2 paragraph written declaration. It starts with the phrase “When I am at my best, I…”.
In those paragraphs you succinctly outline what you do when you’re at your best, drawing upon themes surfaced in your RBS as well as from reflection on your past.
Here’s an example Self Portrait, from my 2016/17 RBS:
The self portrait represents an ideal. It is something to revisit often so that you can measure if you’re missing the mark you’ve set for yourself.
Writing it out ensures that the image of your best self is imprinted on your mind, so that you can more deeply internalize this understanding of your strengths.
Step 5: Redesign your life around your strengths
The last and perhaps most difficult step is use your newfound understanding of your strengths to take action in your life right now.
How can you double down on your strengths?
Your RBS brings your strengths to the surface. Your job is to ensure that you’re adequately using those strengths in your personal and professional life. Consider the following questions:
How can you spend more time practicing your areas of strength?
How can you make life decisions in order to optimize for your strengths?
What activities, practices and experiences will deepen your mastery and increase your impact?
How can you use your unique strengths to bring value and happiness to yourself and those around you?
How can you reorient your work and life to use your strengths?
Having knowledge of your strengths allows you to (re)orient your career and work to use your strengths and further refine them.
This could mean taking on more responsibility in your current job, starting new side projects during nights and weekends, or something as drastic as finding a new job in a role that’s more aligned with your strengths.
For example, if you’re a founder or team leader, defining your Circle of Competence, the areas in which you are best suited, allows you to leverage your strengths and then offset your areas of weakness by delegating or hiring others who are world class at them.
At the very least, knowledge of when you are at your best gives you license to explore and try new things that you think would best utilize your strengths.
Consider this an invitation to question your assumptions of what you thought you could achieve and be and start from scratch, using your RBS and Self Portrait as a compass.
What activities can help you further develop?
Your RBS will identify areas where you are good or even great at.
With the right nurturing and practice, you can go from good to great to world class in your areas of strength.
This allows you to have more of an impact with your strengths and ultimately, escape competition through authenticity.
You could get expert coaching, enroll in courses, find mentors or simply seek out like-minded people who are trying to level up on the same skill. Using myself as an example, in trying to improve my written communication and double down on my strength of sharing knowledge, I enrolled in a writing course (Write of Passage) and started this newsletter to keep me accountable.
Further education and a commitment to improving your strengths helps you improve and creates a positive feedback loop where you spend more time harnessing your strengths, since you’ve invested in improving them.
Your Turn + The RBS Starter Kit
Now that you’ve seen all 5 steps of the Reflected Best Self Exercise, it’s your turn to try it and unlock a deeper understanding of your strengths and who you are at your best!
If you’re looking to deepen your self-awareness, understand how you can make the best impact or just looking to be world class at what you do, the RBS take you to the next level.
To help you get started, I’ve put together an RBS Starter Kit to kickstart your journey.
The starter kit contains scripts, templates and sample artifacts which I’ve developed for myself when doing my yearly RBS. I’m super excited to share them with you and hope they help you overcome the initial hurdle of resistance.
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