Why do we invest time, money, and effort trying to be better at something that we may never get better at doing? Unless your weakness gets in the way of your strengths, forget about it!
Personal branding is all about leveraging your strengths to stand out and differentiate yourself. Our strengths are what makes us unique, authentic, and real. Yet we tend to easily fall into the trap of fixing our weaknesses. This really comes as no surprise as the focus on weakness in society is hard to ignore. Almost every job interview asks about our weaknesses in light of our strengths! Basically we are becoming experts at defining how bad we ‘suck’ at something.
Runa Magnusdottir addressed the issue of weaknesses in her vlog Branding Your Unique Weakness. She reminds us that our strengths actually can grow out of our weaknesses and shares how you can turn your weaknesses into your strengths. This reminded me of a powerful commercial for Saucony running shoes called “What is Strong?” I simply love the message in this commercial:
“Strong is just what you have left when you’ve used up all your weak.” Tweet This!
How can you use-up ‘your weak’ to maximize ‘your strong’? Try the following 5 activities.
1. StrengthsFinder 2.0
Are you an “achiever”, “relater”, “maximizer”? First introduced in 2001, the StrengthsFinder assessment was designed with the simple purpose of helping you to discover your top five strengths and how each of these plays out in your life. By doing the assessment you have more clarity in understanding how to do what you naturally do best every day, and how to identify the opportunities that will enable you to use your strengths. Access to the assessment does require a code that comes with the purchase of the book, but it is worth it.
2. Don’t SWOT, SOAR!
I first wrote about SOAR on this blog back in March but it deserves repeating! SOAR retains the ‘strengths’ and ‘opportunities’ from the traditional SWOT, but adds a critical process of ‘appreciative intent’ by including ‘aspirations’ and ‘results’. Appreciative Intent (AI) really goes hand-in-hand with personal branding as its function is to build plans around what works, rather than trying to fix what doesn’t. This empowers us to focus on the positives that we can imagine and actually achieve in the future. Again, I am not advocating for the elimination of the SWOT analysis. But, when it comes to personal branding let’s remove ‘weaknesses’ from the equation and shift our mindset toward turning what is already strong into something that is superb.
3. Headline News
How do you want the world to see you? What do you want to be known for? If someone picks up the newspaper and there is a front page article about you, what would the headline read? Identify a list of people who know you well including friends, family, colleagues, etc. Ask them to write a front page headline about you. Remind them to be genuine and real here. You don’t want them to fantasize. Their headline should be something they feel is absolutely achievable and realistic for you. What you get back will be amazing collection of headlines. Look for themes across these headlines and pay attention to all the verbs used as they will say a lot about how they see your strengths.
4. Seven Stories
Seven Stories is a comprehensive introspective activity where you first make a list of 25 enjoyable accomplishments in your life from childhood to present time. Things you not only enjoyed, but also did well. From this list you narrow it down to the seven that are the most important to you and write a short paragraph about each accomplishment. With these seven stories you will find some common threads and uncover strengths that perhaps you never realized.
5. My Retirement Party
This is a great “forward visioning” activity that combines aspects of ‘Headline News’ and ‘Seven Stories’. Imagine you are sitting on the porch of your home and old friends, family members, and colleagues are showing up. People are coming to celebrate your retirement. As everyone gathers they are gradually breaking into smaller groups, talking, laughing, and having a great time. They are talking about you and how you have impacted their lives. You get up from the porch and walk around. As you pass by each group you can overhear what they are saying. Write down what you hear. How have you made an impact? What did you do to help them?
Using any of these activities will help you to find your strong! How about you? Do you have any other ways to maximize your strong? Please share below.