When you start to run your own business you become a jack of all trades. You wear lots of different hats: CEO, book keeper, marketing director, website designer; not to mention all the other ones that you might be wearing in your life, like being a mother, chef, or partner. But in our efforts to do it all, we often forget what we do well, as well as our strengths.
While we might not be able to outsource everything that we dislike, it pays to notice the activities that we enjoy and do well, and where we personally add value in our business. Because it’s this added value that’s going to help us grow and develop our business.
Understanding your strengths is the first step to leveraging them in your business.
So what are your strengths?
You can do all sorts of quizzes and questionnaires to find out, but I have a feeling that you already know deep down what your strengths are. Our brains hold a lot of information about us. It stores away everything that we’ve ever seen and experienced. Our brains also love solving problems, working out what’s coming up next, and filling in the blanks. We just need to ask it a question or give it a prompt for it to deliver a response.
So here’s a simple creative tool that uses metaphors and association to tap into your brain’s big picture, intuitive, expansive thinking to uncover one of your many strengths.
But before we do anything please tell your inner critic, the part of your brain that points out all the dangers out there to keep you safe from harm, that we’re just going to play and use our imagination – nothing serious. There are no wrong answers. So relax… OK. Let’s start.
- First, pick up your handbag. Or if you haven’t got it handy, then look at your desk or whatever is in your close surroundings as you’re reading this. For example, I’m writing this blog post at my desk so I’ve decided to look at my desk.
- Look through the contents of your bag, the objects on your desk, or do a scan of your environment and pick one object that symbolises one of your strengths (or at least something you’re good at and enjoy). I’ve picked a purple rubber band. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or special.
- It doesn’t need to be the entire object. It can be just one element of that object (its colour, pattern, shape or weight) that reminds you of your strength.
- If you draw a blank just pick any random object that you like (you don’t need a lot of in-depth thinking on this one). For instance, there’s also a green pen on my desk.
- Look at your object and start to think about why you picked it. How does this object symbolise one of your strengths? For example, the purple rubber band is flexible. It reminds me of how l like to see issues from different points of view.
- If you get stuck on finding a way to describe your strength with this object then make a short list of the object’s characteristics.
Using the ballpoint pen as an example. The pen is green. It’s made of hard transparent plastic so you can see the refill inside it. It has a clip on its side and makes a clicking sound when you press it. It has black ink.
Do any of the characteristics on your list symbolise one of your strengths or something you’re good at and enjoy? For example, the transparent plastic reveals the inside of the pen and reminds me of how I love to pick apart tools and ideas to see how they work.
So what strength did you reveal?
Understanding yourself better is the key to unlocking your creativity (it helps us work out the right creativity tools that bring us success). But taking action is essential to creating success. So the last part of this creative tool is to ask yourself:
What is one way that you can use this strength more in how you run your business today?
While we may not be able to give up all of our business hats right away, at the very least we can organise our working time and activities to get more value out of our strengths.
So what object did you pick? And which of your strengths did it reveal to you? And m
ost importantly, what are you going to do to use it more in your business? Please share your discoveries in the comments below.
Natalia Walker, founder of Inner Creative, empowers entrepreneurs to unlock their creativity to create customised business plans and solutions better aligned with the business leader they want to be.