One of my core beliefs is that, in order to do fulfilling work that matters, we need to find and focus on what we are good at. To get there, we need to figure out what this is. You need to know who you are.
8 years ago I found a book called ”Now, Discover your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham. It comes with an extensive online test by Gallup where, through a battery of questions, your top five strengths are identified. (It is now called Strengths Finder 2.0, but includes the same test).
You get a comprehensive report on your five strengths, including an insight and action-planning guide, which brings explanations of the concepts as well as ideas for actions.
To give you an idea of what a ’strength’ is, some of these include:
Maximizer. Focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transforms something strong into something superb.
Arranger. Can organize, but they also have a flexibility that complements this ability. They like to figure out how all of the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity.
Woo. Love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person.
For me, the test has clarified what types of roles I thrive in, which types of companies I should work with, where in the phase of a company’s lifetime I should be involved, and what kind of help I need to find from others. (The great thing is that there will always be people who thrive in areas you are weak in and who get fulfillment from doing that work!)
I find myself revisiting this compendium a few times every year and I still get value from it every time. As I grow and change, new things become important. Ideas I previously did not notice, now stand out clearly.
I highly recommend that you pick up this book as a start.
Here are some additional tools I recommend:
Via! Strengths Test This is a free online test, which gives you an big picture view of your core competencies. It's based on positive psychology and focuses on what areas of life you should focus on. Free.
Personality Type Test (by Quistic) Quick, free and fun online test. Links to some interesting material depending on the type you get. Free.
How To Fascinate - Sally Hogshead ”See the best of how the world sees you”. Do a test online and find out how the world perceives you and how you can use it to your benefit. A different take on your strengths, focusing on how you are seen. The idea is that you should harness what you are already fascinating with. Buy the book to get a code for the online test.
So - do you know who you are?