Much of it came because of my personal background - without going into details, self-esteem came late in my life. In fact, learning what I was good at - and accepting it - was a long process. Working for social change can be very frustrating and not very conducive to confidence...
...but it was in those moments that I began knowing my strengths. Learning what I was good at - and what I needed to develop - allowed me to continually strive towards self-improvement. Although I once considered myself a perfectionist, I now strive for excellence....
....and I can't believe I just typed that out loud.
Knowing my strengths is helpful, but it's also a responsibility. Although many nonprofit professionals can claim to be "awesome" (as the kids say), I'm finding that the ultimate proof is in actually being awesome. I'm also finding that with every strength that I find, there's usually another area of my life that needs dire improvement. It's an attitude that's helped me throughout my career, and hopefully can provide some guidance for others.
So in an effort to match those of my fellow Chicago Now bloggers who are writing about this very subject, here are some of my strengths - and areas for growth:
- When it comes to work, I can be very organized - I've learned the power of the to-do list, and I have adopted many of the principles of Getting Things Done....however, this also means I have to be more diligent in organizing my time. (Because after all, those BBC Documentaries on YouTube will still be there for me to watch after I get my work done).
- Another talent of mine is writing - so much so that I am fortunate enough to have some short fiction published (and I have the Amazon Author page to prove it!)...but balancing copywriting for work with other non-work writing (like this blog) is a continual challenge.
- I know a lot about Doctor Who - so much so that not only do I run a local Meetup group, but I've also been featured on the BBC's website. However, other than "I like the show, too"....not really much benefit.
- I'm really good at networking and connecting with people (which, for someone as naturally introverted as I am, is a challenge), and actually make an effort to connect. However, it also means that I have to set firm boundaries on my time and travel.
- Thinking strategically has always come easy for me - perhaps having a father who was an attorney helped in that regard. But it also means letting go of the results, and more importantly, allowing others to take on pieces of a given task. (Two interpersonal skills which have improved over the past few years are delegation and collaboration).
As a freelance consultant, I've taken on many of the administrative tasks that others have done when I have worked for an organization. Even as a freelancer and an office worker, knowing my strengths has been crucial in my professional development. For any nonprofit/social entrepreneurship professional, it can be a critical step that leads to organizational growth or decay.
I've seen much improvement in the past few years (and especially in the past year and a half, spurred on by a friend's passing), and it has been through continual inventory and knowing my professional and personal strengths. Knowing what I'm good at helps in the short term, but those areas of improvement....will keep me going for a lifetime.
And as always, thanks for reading!
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