06 Dec Strengths & Growth Opportunities
Have you ever struggled with the idea that you don’t belong? That you don’t fit in or that everybody else is better than you?
If you have, don’t worry. Imposter syndrome is real and a lot of high achievers feel it.
Recently, one of my coaching clients was struggling with this. He came from a lower-class background, a hardworking family, and was not super educated. He didn’t go to college, but despite all those challenges, he’s continued to grow and thrive in his career.
In his career, he’s now in rooms full of people who are college educated and come from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.
However, he still struggles sometimes in those environments, so he asked me what he can do to show up better in those spaces where he doesn’t feel like he belongs.
The first thing I reminded him of is that book smart doesn’t equal street smart. Sometimes you can have both, but just because something works in theory, doesn’t mean it’s going to work in real life.
What he saw as a disadvantage is actually a unique advantage that no one else in that space can relate to.
Understand What Your Advantages Are
Identify the things about you that you may think cause you to not fit in. What are those things that you have that others can’t relate to or can’t do? Those things might actually be your advantage.
You may be able to look at situations very differently than others and that can be very valuable.
Take out a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of it. On the left side, write “STRENGTHS.” Then write down:
- What do you do well
- Where you have natural ability
- Things you’ve learned and put into practice
For example, are you great at communicating or connecting people? Are you just stubborn as hell and a hard worker? Do you learn things quickly? Are you adaptable?
A lot of times when we step into spaces where we don’t feel like we belong or where we think other people are more qualified than us, we tend to forget what we do really well and where we can thrive. Writing these things down can be a reminder of what you bring to the table and also be a confidence booster.
On the right side of the paper, write down your “GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES.” These are areas or skills that you want to improve. They aren’t your strengths, but you’d like them to be one day.
For instance, how you manage expectations and hold people accountable. Maybe you’d like to improve the emails and messages you send to your team. Maybe you love the way someone else in your office can just build relationships with people and you’d like to be able to do that too.
Target What You Want To Improve
You don’t stumble into success. It’s not an accident. You have to be intentional with the choices you make to be more successful.
If you just say “I want to be better,” that’s too vague. Be specific about what you want to be better at. Is it leading, managing, connecting, communicating, problem-solving, or staying calm during difficult situations?
The better you can identify what you want to grow in, the more you can start building an action plan.
We write down our strengths to reinforce what we do well and what we’re going to continue to build on. We write down our growth opportunities to identify the areas we want to get better. When we’re detailed and specific about those growth opportunities, we can start to create plans around them.
Pick one of those growth opportunities every week, figure out one action step that will help you improve it, and then do it.
You’re not going to change overnight, but you’ll start adding building blocks to that skill. That way, at this time next year, you’ll be more proficient and have built more skills.
If you’re struggling with imposter syndrome:
- Identify what you think are disadvantages and ask yourself, “How can these actually be advantages?”
- Write down your strengths and figure out how you’re going to keep building them
- Write down your growth opportunities and take action steps to improve them
Don’t worry about whether or not you belong in the room. Instead, focus on how you’re going to continue to show up and be the best you can, and grow into someone even better.
Who cares if no one saved you a seat in those rooms, make your own.