To put it in the great Marcus Buckingham’s words, we can each build on our strengths, and capitalize professionally on what we already do well. Do most of us know what we do well? How do others perceive us? and What do they think we do well?

Here’s a starting point to tackling big question: What do I do well?

Start by freewriting about things that you love to do. Put everything else aside 

1. Start by freewriting about things that you love to do. Put everything else aside, grab a watch to time yourself. Give yourself 5 minutes. Yes, five whole minutes and write non-stop about all the things that you love to do. Don’t censor yourself as that defeats the purpose of the exercise.  Most often times than not, what we love to do are things that we innately do well.

2. Find 5 people who you totally trust and ask for feedback about you. Because you don’t know what you don’t know, start with “what you need to know.” Start with:

You’ve known me a very long time and I need your honest thoughts about me. This will help me create a strong foundation for my professional and personal life. It may not be easy for you to tell me about areas that I need to work on, and it may not be easy to hear too, but let’s look at it as an exchange of information. I don’t know what I don’t know. Any examples of specific behavior will help me greatly to understand your perspective. Thank you. 

It’s human to lose touch with reality, especially if you’ve been told over and over again that you are bad at something 

I remind you to do this because it’s human to lose touch with reality, especially if you’ve been told over and over again that you are bad at something. Or that you are good at something, for that matter. Feedback keeps you humble and gets you back on track.

3. Ask anyone you partner with How can I be a better [insert role]? Be it manager, direct report, spouse, parent, sibling, child, wouldn’t it be awesome to get straight, uncensored responses from the people who know us, our work, and methods? It may be a POW in your ego but that’s okay. This is still about gathering information.

4. Later – probably a few days later – gather all this written data and lay it out all in front of you. Examine the patterns, concepts and themes that were gathered, and ask yourself, what does this all mean? Is there a collective consensus that I can learn from? What do other people see in me, as my strengths? Keep it simple and manageable by taking one step at a time. Yes, this simple.

Is this easy? Admittedly, not all. If it were easy to execute on all of these, we’d have a world of accomplished people, loved by the folks in their professional and personal lives, and there’d be no need for professional coaches like me. But it’s complicated.

So here’s my coaching thought: keep it simple and manageable by taking one step at a time. Yes, this simple. Things don’t all change overnight. But it does begin with just one step.

Karen Galli is the founder of One Leadership Group. She focuses on driving leadership development through relationship building. Through her work, she helps people see that leadership is about self, others and thought. If you’d like to contact her, you can find her on Linkedin by clicking here. 

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