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As I mentioned earlier, your talents are made up of three things: your gifts, your loves, and your skills. So, the first step to discovering your talents is to understand your gifts. Your gifts are the things that come naturally to you. They've always been there and are a part of your personality. Sometimes these gifts show up early in life, and sometimes they appear much later as a welcome surprise. Whatever your gifts are, we want to discover and understand them. Making your gifts stronger will give you the greatest amount of growth and benefit in the shortest amount of time.
To make this process easy for you, I've created a simple worksheet that you can use to ask yourself a series of questions. Included with this worksheet is a 360-degree feedback form, where you can ask other people to give you their impressions about what your gifts are. In fact, their responses will probably reveal more than your own. People often have a hard time recognizing their own gifts. You've been living with them so long, you may have come to take them for granted, or just forget that you have them.
First, you'll answer the series of questions on the worksheet, and then you'll have someone else respond to the questions. Let's talk about each of these questions briefly, starting with the questions you'll answer about yourself. With all of these questions, just write down the first thing that comes to mind. Writing your answers down will make it easier for you to remember, and you'll also have a physical record of this process. The first question is, what comes easily to you? This question is deliberately open ended.
Think about the first thing that comes to mind. What's easy for you to do? And write that response down. Next is a question about when you were younger, under the age of 10 or so. When you were a child, what sort of things came easy to you then? Think about the things you just naturally took to as a child, and found yourself spending the most time doing, and which give you the greatest amount of enjoyment. Write down your answers. Next, what are the areas where you've received awards, won contests, or received public praise? This really is an outside validation of what your gifts are.
It means some person or group of people recognized your gifts and rewarded you for them. Next, what are the areas where others have said, "I wish I could do that as well as you?" Of course, when you give the second part of the worksheet to someone else, they'll give their answer to this question, but for now, answer it from your perspective. What do other people tell you they wish they were as good at as you are? Finally, take some time for quiet introspection. Just ponder for 5 minutes.
That means do nothing else but sit and think, and focus on this question: What are your natural gifts? Set a timer for yourself for 5 minutes and quietly think about that. After 5 minutes, write down your answer. Many people in today's society have become used to finding easy answers, but by taking just 5 minutes to yourself to sit quietly, you'll give yourself an opportunity to push past all the mental clutter and find the answer that may be less obvious.
Finally, you'll see a section on your worksheet for other sources. This means there are other great resources out there that you can use to discover your gifts. There are many books, online aptitude tests, and more that are available. Perhaps you've taken such assessments before. If you have, think about your results, and write them down on your worksheet. After you've filled in your answers, and after at least one other person has completed their worksheet about you, we're ready to move to the other column.
This column is where you indicate that someone other than you also mentioned the same gift in their worksheet. For instance, if I said that I received awards for public speaking, and someone else mentioned my awards for public speaking when they completed the 360-degree worksheet, then I'm going to put a check mark there. What that means is that both you and someone else agree that it's a gift. After you've answered the questions and someone else has provided their feedback, you'll complete the Multiple mentions section at the bottom.
Here is where you'll list things that appear multiple times. If you only mention speaking once, for example, then you probably wouldn't list that there. But if more than one person said that you're great at getting deals done, or making sales, then you might list making sales in that first bullet. Now it's time for you to complete this worksheet and give the second worksheet to at least one other person. After you do this, you'll come away with a greater understanding of what your gifts are.
This understanding will help you along the path toward discovering your talents and increasing your ability.
This course is one of a series of five Dave Crenshaw courses based on his Invaluable teaching methodology for professional development.
- Identifying gifts, loves, and skills
- Assessing personal performance
- Applying your strengths and talents at work
- Making continual improvements that impact your career