To quickly recap, I’m working on setting some personal goals for myself over the course of this month. In order to do that, I’m sorting out who I am and who I want to be. Think of those as points on a map. One is where I am, the other is where I want to go. With that information, I can plan my journey. Yesterday I wrote about some self-work I did to get a lock on my personal values. Today I want to take some time to cover my strengths, at least as I perceive them. Tomorrow, we’ll dive into the uncomfortable topic of my personal weaknesses.
My Top 3 Personal Strengths
The methodology that I used to assess my strengths was the same I used to get a grasp of my values. In short, I took a bunch of surveys that met some bare minimum criteria for academic or scientific merit. Rather than using any one survey, I looked for recurring patterns and trends. Then I went with a combination of what felt right, what I think I can work with, and what I know I can back up. I didn’t want this to come off as self-aggrandizing, which is why I went with the surveys of my gut when I had any doubts. That doesn’t mean that this is entirely objective, but I think it’s fair.
Appreciation of Excellence
The surveys all skewed toward the ability to appreciate things that others take for granted. I want to praise people for doing a good job, and ensure that they get the recognition they deserve. My standards are high, and I’d rather have quality than quantity. This seems to fit with my minimalist ethos of eliminating the necessary in favor of what best meets my needs and brings me joy.
I recognize the irony in this, of course. Some people see me as a negative person, prone to complaint; I view that as knowing that things could be better, and refusing to settle for less. That my business role model is Roger Corman, a filmmaker renowned for cutting corners, seems to contradict this. As Corman himself said, though, he never set out to make a bad movie. He did the best he could with what he had to work with, and very often that wasn’t much.
This is a combination of critical thinking, effective decision making, and a willingness to see all side of an issue. It also includes the ability to alter positions based on new information and changing circumstances. One of the surveys called it common sense. Another categorized it as having good instincts. There was one that concluded that I overthink things, which is true sometimes, but I maintain that it’s better than under-thinking things.
I can say that when I do my research, think things through, and create a plan, things tend to work out for me. That doesn’t mean I never make mistakes. It also doesn’t mean that I always do what I know to be best. We’ve all had moments where we end up kicking ourselves, because we knew better and did the dumb thing anyway. Having a strength doesn’t mean that I’m utilizing it effectively. I see this more as potential that I can leverage.
This is a blend of results that ranged from telling the truth to valuing authenticity in others. It includes taking responsibility for my own actions. I’m sincere about the things I say and the causes I support. I value the truth, and hold people accountable when they don’t honor the facts of a situation. They make me sound like a paladin.
One survey said I was good at presenting myself in an authentic way, and that’s a pain point for me. I definitely value that, but it becomes overshadowed by fear (spoiler alert: it’s a weakness). As much as I do think that honesty is a strength I possess, I am much more inclined to hold my tongue, especially in public places and on the internet. Some of that is fear, yes. Part of it is empathy, the desire to not hurt people by saying things that, while true, would cause them distress.
Doing Something With This
In recognizing these as strengths, I can also see where I can do better with them. It’s low-hanging fruit. My personal goals have to leverage these as tools. How can I use my appreciation of excellence to get where I’m going? What problems can I solve with my good judgment? What can I do to ensure that honesty run through all of my practices, and is reinforced by my results?
I already have some ideas on how I can use them to support my values. Empathy, entrepreneurship, and creativity all benefit from excellence, judgment, and honest. The challenge will be to see how I can use their strengths to compensate for my weaknesses.