An Honest Look At Your Awesomeness

An Honest Look At Your Awesomeness

An Exercise in Self-Reflection

  1. Grab a Piece of Paper and a Pencil
  2. Write down 5 things you are AWESOME at.
  3. Write down 5 weaknesses you have.
  4. Write down 1 thing you want to actively get better at.

Are you Too Hard on Yourself?

I like this exercise because it emphasizes how much better we are at identifying our flaws. If step 2 took you less time than step 3, then you’re awesome. And you know it. For most of us, writing our strengths takes way longer that it does to write down our weaknesses. Those are always at the top of our minds.

If we can’t successfully identify our strengths, we don’t know where we can add value.

Focus on the “A” – Not the “F”

When a student brings a report card home and they get an “A” in science and an “F” in English, the immediate reaction of a parent would be to focus on the “F” in English. This is the wrong approach. If this kind of grading is a consistent trend for this student, it’s clear the student is gifted in science and not in English.

Yes, the student should improve the “F” in English because we all need to learn how to be proficient in things outside our natural skillset, but those “F” grades don’t all need to turn into “A” grades.

In high school, I got my first “B” in Physics. I was really good at math and English classes. Then came calculus. I was actually failing calculus (and again, I had gotten only one “B” and all other “A” grades up to this point). I was told that I couldn’t drop the class and still graduate with honors (a ploy at teaching us not to be quitters). I could, however, fail the class and graduate with honors (because my GPA would still be high enough to qualify). I worked to improve my “F” and worked so hard, I earned a “C”; I was so proud! (In the end, the teacher bumped it up to a “B” because of my efforts.)

Is the moral of the story that I did something hard and made it my new strength? No! I haven’t had to use physics or calculus since those classes in high school. They aren’t my strengths. Instead, the lesson is that if you show up and try hard, you’ll get through. The lesson is that I knew in high school that I was good at research. I was good at writing. I was good at analysis. I was good at statistics, geometry, algebra. Physics and calculus didn’t come naturally.

Success Follows Authenticity

“Authenticity” is overused these days. People are always trying to be “authentic,” live “authentically,” or live up to some ideal of what it means to have an “authentic life.”

What “Authenticity” really means is that you live YOUR life. You do you. That means your “authentic life” will be different from anyone else’s (and may not be as Instagrammable as someone else’s “authentic” life – my research-filled “authenticity” makes a really bad social profile).

Success comes when you stop trying to mimic the success or talents of others, and instead fuel your natural abilities. You already have a head start with things that come naturally! Use that to your advantage!

Rethink Your Goals

Now look at the one thing you wanted to improve on. Does that line up with your strengths or your weaknesses? Is it something that you would be forcing yourself to do? How will it help you to be good at that? Would it be better to focus elsewhere?

You don’t have to be good at everything. You just need to be the best at one thing. And once you figure out what that one thing is, you’ve already got your path figured out!

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16 Comments

  1. I was a daydreamer in school. I struggled in a lot of subjects but I had a very imaginative mind. I’m now a creative director where I work and it’s my job to think of new video titles to work on. I think in most schools, many kids fall through the cracks because they don’t fit into the grading system norm. It’s a shame because you could be looking at the next big artists, or musician or singer. Instead those kids get set up to fail.

    • MaggieBanks

      It’s actually a bit ironic that in the early school years, school focuses on being good at everything but as you progress, you specialize. If you end up getting a PhD, it’s not even in something general like science, or even Physics… it’s in a very specific variety like particle physics… and the rest of the subjects no longer matter.

  2. I love this exercise! And I’ve been thinking hard about this a lot lately, especially in terms of trying to replicate the parts of my work that I’m awesome at in retirement, while eliminating the stuff that I suck at. It’s a good problem to have! 😉

    • MaggieBanks

      Oh I think about this all the time… I’m terrible at the pitching part of things which makes the things I AM good at like a hidden treasure… people have to come to me and ask! 🙂

      • Oh, and PS. My post today is totally in this vein, because OF COURSE WE HAVE THE SAME THOUGHTS.

        • MaggieBanks

          I will be catching up on your blog after my trip. I’ve been almost entirely disconnected for nearly 2 weeks!

  3. I did the exercise before reading the rest of the post and definitely picked one of the weaknesses as my thing to get better at. I really like the premise, though. We are raised from a young age to focus on getting better at our weaknesses while taking our strengths for granted. A change of perspective could do us all some good.

    • MaggieBanks

      I would guess most people chose weaknesses. And that’s normal… we think we need to be good at everything. But we don’t!

  4. I used to focus on improving my weaknesses in all parts of my life. Instead, I was just getting to be mediocre at everything, so I decided to focus on weaknesses in my personal life where it makes sense (i.e. food and fitness) and to build a career on my strengths. I still think I could reframe my focus on personal weaknesses since I have been making some progress…

    • MaggieBanks

      YES! You end up mediocre at everything if you try to improve all of your weaknesses! And we could all reframe our focus…

    • Yes, yes yes! I used to think I needed to work on my career/professional weaknesses and mitigate those. Now I realise I should play to my strengths instead and that’s what I’m doing. No point trying to get better at speaking/presenting when it stresses me out, doesn’t come naturally, and there are plenty of jobs that do not require this.

      • MaggieBanks

        Oh yes! Trying to focus on things that are weaknesses are a major cause of stress for me as well!

  5. Jacq

    I am crummy at pausing my work day to make personal phone calls. I rock at cooking. 🙂 step 3 took a lot more thought. Thank you for this post. 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      I’m terrible at STARTING my work day INSTEAD of making personal phone calls. 🙂 The problem of a work-at-home mom!

      • Jacq

        It might be different if I worked from home. Open office cube system with upper levels walking by, I feel awkward leaving my desk to find a free room, or I get into a groove with my work and the day speeds by.
        The one doctor’s office doesn’t open until I’m at work, has a lunch break when I do (why wouldn’t you stagger lunches?), and is often closed by the time I’m done at work. I’m also inclined to procrastinate being poked and prodded, so it’s mix reasons.

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