How to Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses

How to Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses

To know oneself thoroughly is a question that everyone ponders, along with the subsequent question: what am I lacking in?

If you’re unsure how to answer these questions, read on. This article aims to assist you in gaining a better understanding of yourself.

At the age of 14, I discovered an unknown talent. My older brother had bought a home gym, but faced a problem: "Some assembly required."

After struggling for a few hours, my brother gave up and left me alone with the assembly instructions. Slowly and steadily, I completed the task, and by the end of the night, the gym was ready to use.

That day, I realized that I possessed an ability that my brother didn’t have, and that it had value.

If you’re considering starting a business, understanding your strengths and weaknesses isn’t just an exercise to boost your self-esteem. It’s crucial for determining how you can excel at what you do and where you need improvement to achieve success.

In this article, I’ll guide you through the process of identifying your strengths and weaknesses. We’ll cover creating lists, seeking input from trusted individuals, taking personality tests, and trying new experiences.

1. Create two lists

Before seeking external help to identify your strengths and weaknesses, spend about 30 minutes alone creating two lists.

The first list should focus on skills crucial to your business or entrepreneurial goals. Give it a title like "Skills Needed for Success."

Don’t worry about including every possible skill needed for your business to succeed. This list is meant to be an overview and should be fairly general. Highlight the skills you already possess and mark the ones you need to develop. Set this list aside for now.

Your second list requires complete honesty about yourself. Create two columns: "Strengths" and "Weaknesses."

Objectivity is essential, even if it’s difficult. Don’t dwell on what you consider to be major flaws, or overestimate your strengths. Simply list them and move on.

Remember, you don’t need an exhaustive list of 100 strengths and weaknesses. If you have more than 10-15 items in each column, you may be focusing too much on insignificant strengths and weaknesses.

Examples to include in this list can range from character traits like "calm under pressure" or "achievement-driven," to technical skills like "HTML expertise" or "project management experience."

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Use the following questions to help you brainstorm:

  • What am I good at?
  • What have others complimented me on?
  • What do others frequently ask me for help with?
  • Which projects drain my energy?
  • Which projects have I worked on tirelessly?
  • What are my hobbies and why do I enjoy them?

After honestly assessing your strengths and weaknesses, reach out to those closest to you, such as a significant other, mentor, close friends, or family members.

2. Seek input from trusted individuals

Seeking input solely from yourself can result in a biased opinion. Most people tend to think either too highly or too lowly of themselves.

If you’re like me, you fall into both categories simultaneously. To gain clarity and a better understanding of yourself, it’s important to seek outside perspectives.

Select three to five people whose opinions you trust and who have known you for an extended period of time. Look for individuals who have observed your behavior and character in various situations. This group may include a significant other, mentor, best friend, sibling(s), or parent(s).

Consider not only the length of your relationships with these individuals but also whether you value or trust their opinions of you. Avoid biased friends or family members who either think everything you do is amazing or have a history of hurtful and destructive opinions.

Once you have selected your group, reach out to them and ask for their honest feedback. You can meet for coffee or simply send an email with questions related to your strengths and weaknesses.

Provide context for why you’re seeking their opinion, mentioning your desire to start a business and the importance of understanding your strengths and weaknesses. Ask what they believe will contribute to your success and what weaknesses may hinder you.

As you receive feedback, refine your two lists. You’ll notice that some strengths and weaknesses you listed are confirmed by those you trust, while others may not be as significant to them.

3. Take a personality test

In addition to your own reflection and the opinions of others, personality tests can help identify strengths and weaknesses. Consider trying the following tests:

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

The MBTI test is highly regarded in the corporate world. It measures four areas: energy (introvert versus extrovert), decision-making, information processing, and approach to the outside world. The official test can be taken for $49.95, or you can try the free Jung Personality Test.

DISC Personality Testing

Another popular corporate-level test, DISC personality testing categorizes people into four main types. It helps individuals understand and relate better to others. You can purchase a full assessment for $29 or try the free version.

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StrengthsFinder 2.0

Developed by the Gallup Organization, StrengthsFinder 2.0 determines your top five "talent themes." To take the test, you’ll need to buy the book (Kindle edition is $10.99) for an access code.

How to Fascinate

This personality test by Sally Hogshead helps you understand what makes you unique and how to communicate your strengths effectively. It also reveals your "dormant" advantage, a potential weakness. You can either buy the book for a full report or take the free test.

Quiz: Are You Entrepreneur Material?

A lighthearted quiz meant for fun, this quiz can still provide insight into your entrepreneurial readiness. By answering seven questions, you’ll get an idea of areas where you need to develop new skills.

Personality tests are similar to horoscopes in that their results can apply to many individuals. They often lack the fine details that make you truly unique. However, when combined with self-assessment and feedback from others, these tests can provide a common language for discussing strengths and weaknesses.

4. Try new experiences

Identifying strengths and weaknesses can be difficult if you lack experience. To overcome this, I encourage you to push yourself and try new things. If you’re unwilling to do this, then entrepreneurship may not be for you.

Trying new experiences can help you identify strengths and weaknesses. Here are some categories that require minimal time and money:

Creative experiences:

  • Painting/Drawing: Follow a YouTube tutorial video with some cheap paints and paper or a canvas.
  • Singing: Push past embarrassment and sing your favorite songs.
  • Dancing: Use YouTube to practice dance routines at home.
  • Video Creation: Make a short video that evokes an emotional response using the equipment in your pocket.
  • Cooking: Follow a recipe in a cookbook or online and try making a restaurant-quality meal at home.
  • Standup Comedy: Attend open mic nights or write a five-minute set and perform it for an audience.

Technical experiences:

Financial experiences:

  • Start investing with apps like Stash, investing small amounts initially.
  • Manage your personal finances with budgeting tools like YouNeedABudget.

Athletic experiences:

  • Try rock climbing at a local center.
  • Train for and participate in a 5K run using Couch to 5K apps.
  • Practice yoga at home or attend a class.

Business experiences:

  • Take online courses on Udemy or Coursera to develop business knowledge.
  • Get support from the Small Business Administration to gain new experiences related to entrepreneurship.

Keep in mind that some experiences may quickly reveal what you are not good at. Failure may occur, but it offers valuable insights. To identify your strengths and weaknesses, be alert during new experiences and take time to reflect afterward.

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Ask yourself the following questions to gain more insight:

  • Did you enjoy the experience?
  • What did you like about it?
  • What didn’t you like about it?
  • Did you find it easy or challenging?
  • Is it something you want to continue and improve?
  • When faced with difficulty, what motivated you to persevere?

Evaluating your lists

Now that you have identified your strengths and weaknesses, evaluate which ones require further attention.

Some strengths represent your best attributes, while others may need further development. Certain strengths may not be essential to your success.

Within your weaknesses, some will be glaring and need improvement for you to succeed. Others may be irrelevant for your business objectives. Additionally, some weaknesses may be important but better addressed by others. This is where opportunity cost comes into play.

What is opportunity cost?

Opportunity cost refers to what you lose out on when you choose one alternative over another due to limited resources.

Consider two weaknesses: "lack of sales ability" and "lack of accounting ability." If you devote your time and money to becoming a better salesperson, does the benefit outweigh developing accounting skills?

Improving sales ability may be more beneficial to you, but what about the accounting weakness? Remember, one person’s weakness is another person’s strength. It’s okay to not be exceptional at everything. Focus on improving what you can and bring others onboard who excel in areas where you struggle.

Many entrepreneurs have an "aha" moment when they realize they can’t do everything alone. By surrounding themselves with individuals who possess complementary strengths, their businesses become more productive and effective.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful in identifying your strengths and weaknesses. Is there anything you would add? I would love to hear about your experiences in discovering unknown strengths or overcoming weaknesses.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful in identifying your strengths and weaknesses. Is there anything you would add? I would love to hear about your experiences in discovering unknown strengths or overcoming weaknesses.

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