Why Recognising Your Strengths is So Hard to Do?

“What makes you different or weird, that’s your strength.” 
Meryl Streep 

There is no doubt that pivotal to you being able to achieve your greatest potential is your ability to harness your greatest strengths. When you apply these ‘gifts’ you are a positive force, achieving results is almost effortless and others will be admiring you ‘doing your thing’ – “How does he do that?!”

Why then is it so hard for us to be able to

a) recognise


b) talk about our strengths?

If this is an area you struggle with you’re certainly not alone. We’ve worked with hundreds of people over the years, including talented business and military leaders who even after a notable career find it much easier to talk about the strengths and qualities of others than their own.  

So, what is going on here? Let’s seek some answers by exploring some of the common blockers to recognising our own strengths, and ways to finally move past them.

Blockers to Recognising Your Strengths  

 1/ You no longer notice your strengths because they are things you find easy to do.

To help you spot the strengths and skills you display every day, talk yourself through (yes out loud.. ?) a typical day in your current role. Bring in as much detail as you can around the type of situations you are often handling or projects you are involved with. What type of qualities, strengths and skills must a person need to have to be able to be effective in these situations? Find at least five things.

2/ You don’t see yourself the way others see you – they see your achievements; you see the full warts and all behind the scenes version.   

As soon as you achieve something do you stop to give yourself a pat on the back or do you automatically focus on what you could have done better? Perhaps you move on too quickly to the next thing without stopping to admire how far you’ve come?  

To give your strengths the kudos they deserve, you must open your eyes to why what you do, matters. Think of a career highlight, something you’ve done that you really enjoyed. Reflecting upon this situation, what positive impact did you make? What were you bringing to the table? How – specifically – did you help your team and/or your organisation achieve important goals? What did you do, and how did you go about it?  

Finally, a controversial, but great, clarity giving question… If you didn’t do your role half as well as you do, what would the consequence be? Now can you see why what you do is important?  

3/ You compare yourself to others with a similar skillset, devaluing the things you’re really good at. You think to yourself, “If they can do it too, what’s the big deal?”  

All professions are full of lots of people with a similar skillset working side by side. In your role there may be others you work with on a regular basis with comparable strengths to yours, however, there is nobody quite like you, and it’s these subtle, but significant differences that mean something.  

Echoing the sentiment of the legend that was Frank Sinatra, every day you do it ‘Your Way’. You have your own unique approach to achieving the goals your role demands of you, to overcoming challenges, and it’s this uniqueness that makes you stand out from the crowd. To spot this (what we at Evolve call) Unique Positive Impact (UPI), take all the insights from above and describe yourself as though you had to introduce yourself to a stranger? What kind of person do you see? 

Bonus tip – Another way to find your UPI is to ask yourself what other people come to you for? Is it for your encouragement, your attention to detail, your empathy or your ability to find a solution no matter how big the problem?  

4/ You fear you’ll appear arrogant. 

Arrogance and confidence often get confused but are in fact poles apart. The easiest way to distinguish this difference between the two is to recall a time you’ve been in the company of somebody displaying arrogant type behaviours – how did this make you feel? Did you gravitate towards or want to move away from them? Did it make you feel better or worse about yourself?  

Now compare that to when you have been in the company of somebody displaying confident behaviours – how did that make you feel? Did you gravitate towards or want to move away from them? Did it make you feel better or worse about yourself?  

Can you sense the stark difference? Arrogance has a negative influence upon the person displaying it and others around them. Confidence on the other hand has a positive influence upon the person displaying it and others around them.  

When you’re building awareness of your strengths you are being confident. Only by you recognising what you have to offer can you then apply these gifts to help people around you to feel good about themselves too, and achieve their goals.  

“The good life consists in deriving happiness by using your signature strengths every day… using these same strengths to forward knowledge, power or goodness.”

Martin Seligman, Psychologist

Now go find ‘your awesome’! 

Team Evolve

The Evolve Company - Coaching in Hampshire

Team Evolve