I recently read a book about portfolio careers (I’m coming to the realisation that this seems to be what suits me and what I’d like to do with my freelancing). One of the things the book talks about is the importance of knowing our ‘motivated skills’ which the authors explain as things we’re good at, enjoy and are proud of. I’ve done the StrengthsFinder before, but I liked the idea of the exercise in the book to help identify our motivated skills so I’ve been working on this as part of my freelance planning.
One of the things I found incredibly useful at the authentic leadership session at Clore was thinking back not just the last few years, but right back to my childhood to see what common themes there are throughout my life. The exercise in the book asks similar. You are encouraged to write down achievements from throughout your life, alongside the age you were when you achieved them (I’m not sure what this is designed to achieve and I didn’t like this much as there seem to be periods of time where I don’t achieve anything and then a big period of change!). Once you have your list of achievements, you’re asked to select the 7 that stand out as your proudest achievements; I chose ones spanning from age 6 to age 32 (my current age). You then map these against a series of skills, to see which seem to be common themes within your achievements. My top motivated skills came out as:
- Motivating and leading (in 6 of my 7 chosen achievements)
- Persistence (in 6 of my 7 chosen achievements)
- Having high energy (in 5 of my 7 chosen achievements)
- Communicating (in 5 of my chosen achievements)
- Helping others (in 4 of my chosen achievements)
I had quite a few skills which were in 3 of my chosen achievements including; solving problems; managing time; teaching; organising people; managing money; being practical; and physical activities.
So what does this tell me? I’m not at all surprised to see persistence up there; some may call it stubbornness but whatever it is I am definitely the sort of person who keeps going when I’m determined to do something. I hope this will be something that will help me in my freelance work (especially when things aren’t as easy), but of course I need to make sure I’m directing that persistence in the right direction. I’m pleasantly surprised to see motivating and leading at the top of the list too – that’s something I’d like to be able to ensure I do in my work which is largely collaborative and for the benefit of others. I hope to continue to work in this way and continue to develop these skills. I’m surprised to see having high energy so high in the list; I would like to bring more energy to my work – by my nature I’m quite an active person, and I hope I bring an element of this to my training but it’s definitely something I’d like to do more of. Communicating underpins most of my work so is definitely something I do a lot of; I’m comfortable with many forms of communication but do still need to develop in some areas (I’m not so suited to formal communication for example but have to do this sometimes). I’m relieved to see helping others in my top list, as this is what has driven my decision to go freelance. I’m really passionate about helping other people develop and definitely want to prioritise this going forward.
I found this exercise really useful to help me confirm some of the things I already felt were my strengths, as well as highlight some of the things I might not have realised as much. It’s reassuring to do this sort of exercise and end up with similar results to other exercises but to have got to them a different way. I plan to revisit this list and the exercise (and probably this blog post) periodically to remind myself of these skills, and ensure I am utilising them.
Do you know what your strengths (or motivated skills) are? Are others aware of them (e.g. colleagues, family, friends)? Do you get the opportunity to utilise them?