We all have virtual mentors. The people we look up to online.
We read their articles. Buy their books. Sign up for their programs.
We want to be like them. We mimic their behavior, their writing, their business model.
But then we hit a roadblock. What works for them, doesn’t work for us.
We feel like an impostor. Something isn’t clicking for us. We feel like we’re not good enough. We’re not getting the results we want.
This isn’t because there’s anything wrong with us. Nor is it because the expert’s advice is no good.
It’s because we’re not tapping into our natural strengths.
We’re all unique. We have our own values, gifts and worldview. We each see life through our own lens.
And knowing our individuality is the key to becoming unstoppable.
Once you fully express your gifts, you stop comparing yourself to others. Impostor syndrome becomes irrelevant. Success becomes inevitable.
That person you admire is leveraging their strengths. Their inner magic. Now, it’s time to find yours.
Your Strengths Vs Your “Why”
But before we jump into your strengths, let’s talk about your “why”.
Discovering your why was made popular by Simon Sinek in his book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.
Your why is important. It’s what motivates you. It shapes your mission and helps you set meaningful goals.
But knowing your why is not enough. There’s another piece to the puzzle. And that’s your “how”. Your natural strengths.
I discovered my why early in my quest to work from home. It kept me motivated through five years of mediocre results.
That’s right, I kept experimenting and exploring for five years. Even though I was struggling to make money in a way that felt right to me.
So, yes, your why is important. But it’s not the whole answer. At least not if you want to succeed at what you do.
You also need to know how to achieve your why.
Let’s look at an example. Say, you’re driven to help others make money from home (this may sound familiar because it’s part of my why). What are all the ways you could do this?
- be a speaker
- create a blog
- be a coach
- offer online programs
- hold in person seminars or workshops
- write books
- sell physical products like journals
- host a podcast
- start an online TV show
You get the picture. There are many ways to help the people you’re driven to serve.
But are you going to be effective at all these things? Do you possess the natural talent to make them work? Will they make you happy?
The answer is no. You don’t have a gift in every area. And that’s where most of us go wrong. We keep trying things. Thinking if it works for them, then it must work for us.
We chase trends we don’t believe in. We do stuff we’re no good at. We grasp at other people’s magic.
If you were no good with numbers, would you become an accountant?
So why star in YouTube videos, host a podcast show, or write articles when these aren’t your sweet spot? Instead, do what lights you up – whether it’s speaking, writing, teaching, creating, connecting, listening, or anything else.
Figure out your “how”. The thing or things you’re designed to do. And the results will follow.
What Your Strengths Look Like
So, how do you uncover your unique gifts? It helps to know what it looks like when you’re using your strengths.
Think about a time when you became so involved in what you were doing the rest of the world disappeared.
Perhaps you were practicing a skill or learning something new. Time passed without you noticing. This is what happens when you tap into your gifts.
You become lost in the present moment. You focus on the journey and not the end goal. You become more alive. And more powerful.
The strengths approach is different to the traditional view of pursuing goals.
School, work, society, all teach us the end goal is everything. We’re told if we visualize what we want, then we’ll achieve it. But I have a problem with this philosophy.
If you’re busy fixating on the result, how much do you enjoy the process of getting there?
And once you reach your goal, how long does your sense of achievement last? A day? Maybe a week?
Or worse, what happens if you fail to achieve your goal? How do you feel then?
Compare this to what happens when you focus on the present moment. You stop focusing on the result. Instead, you lose yourself in the activity.
Psychologists call this “flow”. In this TED talk, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes how flow is the secret to happiness. It’s what makes life worth living.
An Exercise To Start Using Your Strengths
By now you may be ready to start using your gifts. You’re done with impostor syndrome. You want to claim your own power.
However, intentionally tapping into your strengths takes practice. Your gifts come so naturally to you, you may not know what you’re doing.
This is why I created the following exercise. It will help you uncover and use your strengths.
Step One: Discover Your Strengths
A quick way to reveal your natural talents is to take a strengths test. Note, too much data can be overwhelming. So, I suggest you take one test. Two of my favorites are:
If you prefer not to take a test, you can also ask 5 friends or colleagues what you’re naturally good at. Asking for feedback can provide invaluable insights.
Step Two: Reflect On Your Strengths
Once you know what you excel at, think about past situations where you used your strengths. Try answering these questions:
How did your specific strengths help you succeed?
Is there a time when you entered a state of “flow”? If so, which of your strengths were you using?
It may help to do this exercise over several days or weeks. Be aware of times when something feels effortless to you. Tune into the strengths you’re using and how you’re using them.
If you’re struggling with this step, share your strengths with a friend or colleague. Ask for their observations – other people can see what isn’t obvious to us.
The key to unlocking your inner magic is to understand how you apply your strengths in everyday life. Here’s how this might look in action.
My #1 Gallup Strength is Relator. Someone with this talent wants to understand people’s feelings, their goals, their fears, and their dreams; and wants others to understand theirs.
At first, I was surprised by this strength. I’m an introvert. I don’t seek out opportunities to get to know people.
Then, I noticed how this strength influenced my relationships. I tend to “go deep” with people. I ask searching questions and share my inner thoughts.
Uncovering this gift, led me to offer one-on-one coaching. This part of my business now brings me incredible joy. My Relator strength also influences my writing. I delve deep into topics and share my experiences with others.
Look at your strengths and see how they show up in your life.
Step Three: Use Your Strengths
Now you’re aware of your strengths it’s time to set them to work.
Think about a challenge you face or a goal you want to achieve in the next 90 days. Write down the top five tasks you need to complete to achieve this goal or meet this challenge.
Next to each task, record at least one way you can leverage your strengths to complete the task.
Goal: Find first coaching client
Task 1: Reach out to 10 people in my network and tell them about my coaching
Leverage my strengths: Meet in person so I can explore the person’s goals and dreams. Use my Relator strength to get to know their secret hopes and show them how I can help them.
Once you’ve completed this step, reflect on your answers. Ask yourself:
Which strengths are most useful in achieving your goals?
Where do you see connections between your strengths and your goals?
Do you see how doing what you do naturally gets you to your goals more effectively?
When you do this exercise, you become familiar with your natural gifts. You’re on your way to harnessing your strengths and fulfilling your potential.
(Note: the above exercise is based on Gallup’s StrengthsFinder approach.)
Banish Impostor Syndrome And Become Unstoppable
Once you understand your strengths, you’re free to stop chasing trends. Impostor syndrome becomes irrelevant. Instead, you can double-down on what works for you.
You no longer compare yourself to others. Or follow the wrong people online.
You step into your power and make your greatest impact in the world.
You become unstoppable.
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