I bet we can all agree on the fact that it’s a universal dream to do what we’re passionate about. The only problem with this desire is that most often than not, the thing we care about the most isn’t what we do best. As Gloria Steinem rightly said, “We teach what we need to learn, and write what we need to know.”
Hold up! This doesn’t mean your dream is useless and dead. It simply means that you need to figure out how to synergize your dream and what you are great at; how to bring that dream to fruition—using the skills you currently possess. Sure, your dream will be fine-tuned and altered, but, in the end, you’ll still be able to do what you’re passionate about.
Here are three crucial questions you must ask yourself to help make that happen:
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1. What skills helped you succeed?
During your childhood, Secondary School and undergraduate years, you’ve no doubt developed certain skills out of necessity. You had some skills you never even knew existed until you were faced with difficult situations. Now, you can agree with me that no matter how rosy your growing up days were, you at one point or the other came across obstacles that looked insurmountable but somehow, figured out a way to go over them.
Think about those situations that challenged you: Is there a common thread among all of them? If so, that’s something that you’re good at. All you have to do now is figure out which field or position that skill is best suited for.
2. What made you exceptional as a child?
When we were children, we had the tendency to always do what we loved- it did not matter if it made us look odd or stupid, we just did it and we sure did enjoy ourselves back then. If you can seriously look back on your childhood pastimes, you are likely to discover an inborn talent.
In elementary school, Candice Brown Elliott’s classmates teasingly called her “Encyclopedia Brown” after the character in the children’s books. She recounts, “All the kids thought I was the smartest kid in school, but most of my teachers were deeply frustrated because I got only average grades. I was labeled an underachiever.” Instead, she says, “I daydreamed of having animated conversations with famous people like Madame Curie. I daydreamed of building the first true Artificial Intelligence (AI) that would reside in my bedroom closet. I daydreamed about how to build floating cities, great inventions, and new forms of art.”
Four decades later, Elliott holds 90 U.S.-issued patents. Her most famous invention, PenTile, color flat-panel display architecture, is shipping in hundreds of millions of smartphones, tablets, notebook PCs, and high-resolution televisions. She founded a venture-backed company to develop this technology, and later sold it to Samsung. As a child, Elliott’s daydreaming was considered odd by her classmates and tremendously frustrating by her teachers. As an adult, her daydreaming, autodidactic approach is her superpower.
Is there something that made you peculiar when you were young? Could it actually be your superpower?
See also: 7 Reasons To Leave Your Comfort Zone
3. What compliments do you tend to Ignore?
All too often, we’re unconscious and blind to our strengths. When you have the ability to do something reflexively well, it’s is very easy to overlook it. A word of advice, keep your ears open for compliments that you habitually dismiss, not to be coy, but because this thing feels as natural as breathing. It may even be that you’ve heard a compliment so many times, you are sick of it! You begin to wonder why people don’t praise you for the thing that you worked really, really hard to achieve.
The tendency to deflect compliments around what you do well is understandable. You see, I understand this point well, because, I was in this position for years, but the truth is, over the course of your career, it will leave you trading at a discount to what you are really worth. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.” Don’t assume that just because something comes easily or seems obvious to you, it’s not rare and valuable to someone else.
Are there compliments you repeatedly dismiss? Do you have any superpower stashed safely among your family and friends and is not reflected on your CV? I think it is about time you changed that.
Open your eyes and see that in actual fact, there is no shortage of jobs that need to be done and problems to be solved, but there’s only one of you. Once you’ve homed in on your underlying assets or your core strengths, you can more easily identify your distinctive strengths, what is that thing that you do so well you that others in your workplace do not. If you want to be successful, look for problems you feel especially passionate about, and then get to work, by playing to your distinctive strengths.3 Questions To help You Figure Out What You're Good At by Stellamaris Obomanu