Guidelines to assess your strengths

ourStrengthSachin Tendulkar knew that he is cut out for cricket and he excelled.

Einstein knew that he is cut out to be a scientist and even the rejection of his papers by patent office did not stop him while he pursued his modest job in the same office.

Wright brothers knew that they were cut out to do something as great as inventing flying. This list can be endless.

Coming to the same point, how do we know, what you are cut out for?

There are few rules we should keep in mind to assess our strengths.

a. Seek truthful feedback
b. Track your actions and outcomes
c. Dream about yourself with others in mind
d. Exercise your strengths
e. Correlate through proven methods
f. Seek, if the strengths give you confidence and happiness

Let us get into the intricacies of these rules and how they apply to our day to day life.

Seek truthful feedback:

“Truth hurts”, that is what we have understood all along. We have been taught how to be diplomatic when speaking truth, which at times hurts others. Somewhere within ourselves, we are aware about the truth but we always try to validate just the reverse with others.
A not so presentable girl may spend longer in front of the mirror and yearn to have someone tell her that she looks beautiful. A person who wronged multiple times in his life before becoming a public figure always yearns to hear his good deeds and probably would bluntly disown his past. While we feel this is flattery, it is not so.

It is just a form of validation we seek from others on what we really want to hear. More often, what we want to hear is just the opposite of truth because we know that the truth would hurt.

Seeking feedback is the reverse of seeking approval or validation we seek in the form we have been encountering in our day-to-day lives. It is a difficult and engaging process, both for the person taking and giving truthful feedback.

Most of the companies find great inputs from surveys taken from their employees and customers to know where to improve and remain relevant in market. Feedback has been a great method to know where we stand and where to go next if we have to become better.

Taking feedback is all about having an open mind and understanding that we may not like some of the inputs being given, but whatever inputs are being given are for our own good and for our own self improvement. It is equally important to find mentors and specific individuals who we trust with the fact that they are interested in our growth and happiness. These individuals can help us find our strengths and weakness in a better way.

In my own case, my wife is one of those trusted persons who gives me candid feedback on several of my areas of strength where I need to improve more. Almost in each case I started by defending myself, but quickly settle with the fact that it is all about a feedback which is truthful and I need to act upon it to improve and make my strengths look better. Likewise, our parents, partners, close friends, professional colleagues and mentors who have interest in our growth can be our best bet to find a invaluable source of truthful feedback to help us understand our strengths better.

Track your actions and outcome:

There are a lot of things, which we feel, happened because of our luck. Someone is always good at studies, while someone is good at playing cricket. There are few who have great skills of making friends and some know well how to make stories. In almost all the cases, we are getting an outcome for our actions, which are in turn a direct outcome of our strengths and weaknesses. Tracking some of the outcomes and comparing it with our actions would help us know our strengths better. To illustrate this, my son happens to be great in visualization, which makes him good in art. For a long time he was simply attracted to things of art, but soon he started making many good pieces of drawing fairly quickly. Most important, he enjoyed his time doing it. One day, his friend came to our house for a play day. He commented that sometimes we tell our teacher that Manit can draw better than you. While this was a joke for some, as a father, I took this clue to understand that my son has an inherent strength in art and that should be honed well. We decided to engage him with a professional teacher and we are getting a great outcome now.

“ If you enjoy what you are doing, your strengths in that trade are sure to grow. Most successful people played with their strengths“

Dream about yourself with others in mind

Do we have to include others in our dream? In my view, certainly. We are not alone. We live with our family and in a community. Our dreams will be fulfilled better and faster if we take them along and seek their support. I had always dreamt that I would create thousands of jobs. The idea behind was to be a creator of an organization that will generate several jobs, however whenever I dreamt, I always looked myself to be a person responsible to create jobs.

This dream became contagious and I started getting help from several quarters to make this dream successful. Others got involved in making my dream a reality just because they shared my dream, just because I involved them in my dream as well.
Similarly, if you dream of becoming something on your strengths, visualize it by involving others just like I did.

Exercise your strengths

Practice makes a man perfect. I would narrate a small episode of my own career to illustrate this point.

When I joined my first job, I had no experience of computers. Rather, I saw my first computer in my workplace and yearned to do something on the wonder machine. Soon, I found mentors and teachers who trained me on computers and I learned programming languages to become more relevant to business needs.

I could have continued with my job which did not demand any computer knowledge, but I continued to work in extra hours to hone my skills. On one occasion, a departmental head needed some work done which could be done very well through my knowledge on the computers.

I was scared, but I still did it. Over next few months, I got several other requests, which helped me hone my skills, and made me popular as well. I left no opportunity to exercise my strengths. While all this work happened outside my official duty, very soon I was asked to work on computers full time. I only saw north after that.

Correlate through proven methods

Our own children would normally always look better than other children. Without correlation, we would be looking at ourselves just like we look at our children, always with adoration.

Purpose of correlation is primarily to understand if our strength is really that good or it is just eyewash, which we created for ourselves. Comparing ourselves to others doing similar things gives us an opportunity to understand where we stand and where else we can improve.

It is similar to the fact that best players always watch opponents play to learn and plan their own improvements.

In many cases, use of unconventional methods helps immensely. Myself being a graphologist, I find the art very revealing to find strengths and weaknesses of individuals.

The idea is to find not one but several methods to pin down our strengths so that our growth can be managed through our strengths.

Seek, if the strengths give you confidence and happiness

Finally, if you enjoy what you are doing, your strengths in that trade are sure to grow. Most successful people played with their strengths. Their strengths gave them confidence against their weakness. It is easy to find famous people having several weaknesses, but their strengths overshadow everything else.
Lookout for signs of fatigue in what you are pursuing, it will certainly tell you if your strengths are sustainable or not.

Have something to add? Share it in the comments.


Alok Kumar

Alok Kumar is Managing Partner of SRKay Consulting group, a private equity company, nurturing innovative ventures. Alok also serves on the board of ICCL (Indian Clearing Corporation Limited - A subsidiary of BSE- Bombay Stock Exchange) as an external advisor for technology and information security. Prior to this, Alok had been Managing Director of Sears IT & Management Services India Private Limited (SHI) since its inception in December 2009 and served in the same position till very recently. Having been in senior IT management positions in Fortune 500 companies, Alok has won several national and international awards. Alok is instrumental in planning and setting up SHI and thereafter growing it to a multi-locational thousand-plus people organization. Over the last five years, with his strategic vision, Alok helped SHI grow roots in India, develop and support technology applications and infrastructure across core mainframe, cutting edge e-Commerce and big data technologies. With his unique people-oriented transformational leadership style, Alok turned SHI into one of the most valued investments of Sears, garnering great ROIs, and creating value much beyond cost arbitrage. Under his tutelage, SHI has filed two patents and is recognized widely for its best practices in various areas, the latter, currently featured in Indian Institute of Management (IIM) case studies. SHI also became a CMMI Level 3, PCMM Level 3, and ISO 20000 certified organization. Alok is a widely acclaimed corporate leader in India today. He regularly participates and leads various forums as a keynote speaker and is an author of several books in different genres. Alok has several awards to his credit. He is particularly known in the industry for his people management skills and innovative ideas in improving the productivity of employees through unique people practices. He has been credited with the following industry awards: ¬ Emerging Leader of the Year award 2013 by ¬ Game Changer CEO of the Year 2013 (SHRM) ¬ CIO 100 - The Bold CIOs - 2008 (Reliance Infosolutions) ¬ CIO - Ones to Watch Award 2008 (Reliance Industries) ¬ Extended Manager Award - CIOL 2004 (Tata Teleservices) As an able leader of SHI, Alok got SHI recognized widely in the industry with the following several awards: ¬ CII Award for HR Best Practices in 2014 ¬ Global Excellence in Outsourcing Award - AIOP (Phoenix 2013) ¬ IT Innovation Award (Design & Engineering) - Computer Society of India 2012 ¬ Golden Company of the Year - Economic Times 2011-12 ¬ 7th Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Mumbai, India) 2013: • ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ Award • ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with business • HR Leadership Award • Talent Management Award by Bloomberg TV India ¬ Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Singapore, Asia) 2013: • 7th rank in ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ award • Award for ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with the business • HR Leadership Award Other recognitions: Alok had served on the distinguished panel of NASSCOM's GIC (Global In-house Centers) National Council members. The council members play a key role in major initiatives of the industry and include the torch bearers of IT industry as panel members. Books and Papers: Alok is an established author, with three books to his credit. Alok’s third and latest book, a novel, “The Spy from Unaula” is a 2015 publication. A handwriting analysis enthusiast, Alok collaborated with his wife Nandani on the book, “Handwriting Speaks” in 2006. “Value Sourcing – Future of IT Outsourcing” was co-authored with Keith Sherwell (currently CIO, Altice USA) and was released in 2013. Alok also researched and published two whitepapers: a. “Creating next generation captives” talks about the best practices that are helping generate higher value from the IT company captives.

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