Know Yourself & Use Your Strengths
This article is part of the “7 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success” series. Click here to check out our June 2020 issue for the initial article.
We each have a unique combination of preferences, tendencies, and styles that play a critical role in our quest for success. Perhaps, certain ways of expressing one’s self (extroversion), creating routines (being a morning person), and approaching work (systematic and orderly) have been promoted as being better than the others. The reality is that your natural preferences, however different they may be from what’s praised in society, are better utilized as strengths to build on to create a more fulfilling life. A better understanding of your own unique preferences enables you to better express your needs to the people in your life, understand how you might be perceived, develop strategies to enhance your style, build support mechanisms, especially with people who would complement your style, and most importantly enable you to seek (or create) an environment where your unique qualities serve as your superpowers.
Through assessments, we can get insights into how we prefer to think, act, and behave, and why functioning a certain way works better for us. This article offers tools for you to understand, embrace, and use all your unique qualities, your superpowers, to set yourself up for success.
Habits & Routines
Let’s start by looking at our natural tendencies as it relates to forming and changing habits. I’d like to emphasize the “natural” part because we tend to put in so much effort into fitting the definition of “the successful individual” that we may overlook the fact that somethings just don’t work for us. For example, if you actually feel most energized, productive, and motivated late in the evening, then you are “naturally” a night owl and should not put too much effort into becoming a morning person, as it would not only drain your energy but also might lead you to a path of disappointment. Additional questions to consider and to build the right systems around:
• Are you a marathoner, a sprinter, or a procrastinator?
• Are you a moderator or abstainer?
• Are you an opener or a finisher?
• Do you prefer to take small steps or big steps?
Once you understand what works better for you, then you can build the right systems to help you build good habits, break bad ones and create routines that amplify your energy, productivity and motivation levels.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®)
Grounded on the psychological type theory of Carl G. Jung, the MBTI, in my opinion, is the ultimate assessment tool offering an extensive and insightful report including strategies to enhance your style. Unlike other tools that place you on a spectrum, the MBTI sorts you in one of the psychological opposites of the four preference pairs (e.g. Extroversion-Introversion, Thinking-Feeling). It’s great for individuals to increase their self-awareness as well as for teams, even for family and friends, as it demonstrates how we each have natural preferences in regards to the way we communicate, receive and project energy, gather information, make decisions, and approach the outside world. (I’d encourage you to work with a certified MBTI practitioner to walk you through the process, interpret your report, and discuss it with you.)
The “Big Five” Personality Test
This widely popular test assesses what contemporary psychologists consider as the five fundamental aspects of your personality (OCEAN): openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Your score on these five dimensions offers insight into why you behave a certain way, react in different situations, and can even help you identify careers that align with your personality.
By evaluating the different ways people interpret the world and handle their emotions, the Enneagram describes nine interconnected personality types (the perfectionist, the giver, the achiever, the individualist, the investigator, the skeptic, the enthusiast, the challenger, the peacemaker). It’s a great tool to increase self-knowledge and help with personality development both for professional and psychological purposes and for parents and educators as it also includes areas for development for each personality type.
The Power of Character Strengths (VIA)
Built around the 24 character strengths that make up the best aspects of our personality, with all of us possessing each strength to a certain degree, the VIA survey identifies your “signature” strengths (e.g. creativity, love of learning, perseverance, kindness, bravery). By putting your signature strengths into action you start to find more joy and meaning in your personal and professional life.
Kolb Learning Styles: Especially great for teams and students to better understand their cognitive processes.
Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode: Assessing a person’s behavior on two dimensions (assertiveness and cooperativeness) to identify their conflict-handling modes.
Knowing your preferences, your communication style, your habit-forming tendencies, and other aspects of your personality enable you to build the right support systems on your path to success, have better relationships, and turn them into superpowers that can add more meaning and joy to your daily life and your work.
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GG is a personal and professional development coach, and an organizational consultant focused on culture and leadership development. Her passion and talent in empowering individuals to discover their skills, strengths, and passions enables her to assist them in creating and leading fulfilling lives. Based on her cross-disciplinary background and experience, GG's unique approach incorporates resources, insights, and tools from a wide range of fields, including entrepreneurship, organizational behavior, psychology, design, mindfulness, and sustainability. Her coaching approach focuses on areas of motivation, engagement, and inspiration to amplify and build on the individual’s strengths so they can create a better environment toward their ideal future. Her company Mercury Change offers training, workshops, and leadership development programs for organizations.