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Professional Strengths: What do you see that others don't?


Understand Your Strengths

I can’t sing. I’d like to, but I am hopelessly off key. In the company of more musically gifted friends, it is glaringly obvious to them, and the more musical they are, the more uncomfortable it is for them to listen to me. They hear, or see something that I don’t.

What do I mean by “seeing”? 

We all have the ability to see things that not everyone else does. Patterns, ideas, problems, structure, systems. They are subtle, near invisible things, obvious only to those who have strengths in this area. Let’s illustrate with a VP-level client I am working with currently. Among his professional strengths, my client sees and anticipates risk. Specifically, risk to project outcomes. Risk to initiatives. For him, it doesn’t make sense to blindly rush down the field when there are glaringly obvious risks that should be attended to at the beginning of the project rather than flailing at the end. To him, this is the logical and obvious way of thinking and it is certainly a strength. However, this ability also gets him into trouble as other executives don’t always care about those risks and as a result, he is perceived as being slow to move and risk adverse.

What do you See?

Do you know what your abilities are? Have you developed them and leveraged them as professional strengths? Being able to see comes from combinations of:

  • Natural ability

  • Areas of intentional study

  • What we pay attention to over time

  • What we value

You, and your colleagues are attuned to different channels. What is it that you see that most of your peers don’t? Here are some ideas:

  • Opportunities or risks

  • A future state or vision

  • Problem identification and/or solutions

  • A clear road map to get from point A to B and even C

  • Patterns (in words, numbers, workflows…)

  • Systems and processes

  • People dynamics

  • The value in other people

  • Inefficiencies or bottlenecks in processes

  • Technical know-how that goes beyond the normal level of awareness

Increase Your Awareness

Identify and pay attention to those areas of sight.

  • To what extent are you leveraging these as strengths?

  • Is this ability typical or atypical for you field?

  • Is there advantage in further honing this ability?

  • Are there occasions where it comes across as a weakness?  Is it a question of being in the wrong environment or overplaying your ability?

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