For the past month, I’ve been talking about practical tools you can use to get out of your own way so that getting what you want becomes both easier and more successful – a nice combination to have, no?
Up to this point, the things I’ve talked about – de-cluttering your psychic closets, seeing where you stop yourself, and stopping with the trying so hard – have been about taking a clear-eyed look at some of the thoughts and habits you have that aren’t serving you. It’s such an important part of the process of liberating yourself from old ways of being that aren’t working for you anymore!
It’s also not that fun—right?
I mean, I am HUGE proponent of raising your awareness of the unique magical creature that is you—how you think, what you believe, how you react to different situations. It’s the first step in change.
But sometimes, raising your awareness makes you see all the things you’ve been settling for that aren’t so great. And that doesn’t feel especially good. (That unsettled feeling will quickly turn to relief, I promise, if you don’t try to make excuses for them or blame them on someone else.)
But today, we get to talk about what’s RIGHT about you. Hooray!
If you truly want to get out of your own way, you’ve got to start leading with your strengths.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
I had a client who had been staying home with the kids for a few years, and now that his youngest was in kindergarten, he was ready to find a full-time job. Also, after five years as a one-income family, he NEEDED to find a job.
He asked me to read over his cover letter, which I did (when you work with me one-on-one as a coach, I am also happy to look over written stuff for you—I want to bring all my talents to the coaching relationship).
In it, he spent several paragraphs explaining how and why he had stayed home, and only one paragraph talking about his skills. He was so focused on why he felt he was a long-shot for the job that he was about to make his potential employer focus on it too. A perfectly understandable response—but also a choice that was going to sabotage his efforts of finding a job.
So we flipped it—he made the majority of the letter about his experience, skillset, and point of view. And we left in two lines about how he’d made the choice to stay home (and included a link to some related work he’d created with his kids in the meantime—it’s not that you want to completely hide perceived weaknesses, you don’t want to pay them any more attention than they need).
And guess what? He got an interview.
That job didn’t end up being the right fit, but he’s starting at a new full-time gig that suits him extremely well next week.
And that’s what I’m talking about: getting crystal clear on your talents, skills, and super powers, and then talking about them and putting them to use in your life and your work.
What I mean by talents, skills and superpowers are gifts that are uniquely yours, embedded in you since your first breaths, that have been perfectly honed by your life experiences. These are the things that feel effortless to you, simply because they come so naturally to you.
Why do I have to write a long post about doing more of the things that come naturally to you? Doesn’t it seem so obvious that everyone should already be doing it?
The kicker is, because you do these things so easily, you might not even see them, much less value them. Nearly everyone has a pretty darn strong association in their mind between working hard and being worthy.
The things that come easily to you are your best stuff, your genius. When you value them more, so will other people. (Click to tweet!)
For example, I’m the only child of divorced parents. I am a natural peacekeeper, and a natural empathizer because I wanted both my parents to be happy (and then they could get back together if they were happy).
Both those things make me a great observer, and great at understanding how another person thinks. These two things make me a great writer and a great coach, but it took me a while to really claim them for myself because they came from what I thought was an unhappy experience.
Maybe it’s your ability to enter a room, read the energy, and anticipate what’s needed to keep things running smoothly. You developed it because one or both of your parents were alcoholics, and you don’t want to have to do it in order to feel safe any longer, but now that you’re a grown-up and responsible for your own fate, it makes you a fantastic event planner.
Or maybe it’s simply a personality trait that you might perceive as a flaw, but is actually a strength in disguise. For example, I have always felt like a failure at small talk. Cocktail parties made me feel like freak—I always wanted to be huddled up in the corner with someone interesting, talking about something much deeper than the weather. I really felt bad about that for a long time—Why can’t I just be like everyone else and be OK with shooting the shit?
So here’s your exercise for this step:
Make a list of what you know you’re good at. There’s nothing off limits here—spreadsheets, remembering jokes, giving hugs, seeing the big picture, keeping track of details. Write it all down.
Then write down the things you feel really bad at. If you flipped those things on their heads, how might they also be a strength?
Then, to take it a step further, ask people who know and love you well this: What do you consider me as being good at? What kinds of things do you think of me as being the person to help with?
This takes some sussing out, but to truly be in the spot where you are thriving, these are the things you need to be using everyday. They are your genius. And they are what you should charge the most for, if you’re in business for yourself.
What are some of your superpowers? I’d love to hear them—post them in a comment below.
I’ll be back next week with the last tool in the series: Give Yourself a Different Experience.