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Danielle Bowater, colleague blogger, believes that to be your best, you have to discover your strengths and recognise your weaknesses - read on to hear her thoughts.

You’ve probably heard the saying ‘be the best you can be’ loads of times. But what does that actually mean, and how can you achieve it?

One way of becoming the 'best you can be' is to build on your strengths and work on your weaknesses. We all want a fulfilled life and most of us only dream about the things we want or wish we could do. Hoping and dreaming is all well and good but your dreams will stay as unconscious desires if you don’t take action. Now, let's be realistic…this inspiring and positive speech about following your dreams is not about sky diving or travelling the world, it's about making the small steps in life that can, and will, make a big difference to your everyday life.

So, in the words of Mark Twain "The secret of getting ahead, is getting started."

Build on your strengths

First of all we need to identify our strengths. This can be difficult if you don’t know what your strengths are. Some people, myself included, are highly critical of themselves and find it hard to determine what they are good at. Others know what they are good at and are able to run with it. Typically your strengths are things you're passionate about. For instance, I love writing and to get better at writing I just need to keep writing! The more I write, the better I will become.

 With a passion for writing, I was able to see what I was good at whilst at University. The variety of classes I was taking such as, creative writing and linguistics, helped me build on my strengths as I realised what I enjoyed the most. When I was in seminars I would listen to my emotions and noted down what I most enjoyed and disliked about the seminars. For instance, when taking a creative writing class, I enjoyed the freedom of being able to write whatever I wanted and make it my own. I found I enjoyed writing horror stories rather than romance. I was able to build on my strengths by attending creative writing workshops and listening to feedback from my lecturers.

The secret of getting ahead, is getting started.

My top three tips for discovering your strengths are: 

1 Take Action: Write a list. On one side write down the times when you completed something and note down the positive thoughts and emotions you experienced.

2 Listen to your emotions:  Listen to those positive thoughts and emotions. The positive energy will fill you with the drive to succeed at the task at hand.

3 Listen to others: Listen to those around you. When others praise you for the work you have done, acknowledge that this may be a strength of yours. Family or friends may praise your skills – take on board these compliments and use them to move forward.

Work on your weaknesses

Magazine columnist, Marilyn vos Savant once said, "Success is achieved by developing your strengths, not eliminating our weaknesses."

Although focusing on your strengths provides a solution to being the best you can be, you still need to acknowledge your weaknesses. Recognising what you’re not so good at can  help build on your strengths.

One of my weaknesses was my confidence when socialising with others. I realised this when I started my first job. While I was still at school I started working part-time in a shoe shop but because I had low self-esteem I found it difficult to socialise with others. I was very nervous and I didn't know what to expect but because I was in a customer facing role, I knew I had to face my demons and improve my confidence when speaking to others.

 I was able to work on this by opening up about my feelings to my manager, who then provided me with the training I needed. My manager also made me feel comfortable by allowing me to take a few minutes to myself if I felt very uncomfortable in a situation with a customer. My manager and colleagues helped me to believe in myself. They showed me that the more I spoke to people, the more confident I would become. I started to receive excellent feedback from my customers and my confidence grew and grew.

It just goes to show that if you open up the lines of communication with those around you, you’re one step closer to improving yourself and also helping others to be the best they can be.  

Success is achieved by developing your strengths, not eliminating our weaknesses.

My top three tips for dealing with your weaknesses are:

  1. Recognise the weakness: You may be aware of your weaknesses as they are things that are challenging to you, such as socialising with others. You may notice this as a weak area if you feel unable to interact and talk with other people.
  2. Look on the bright side: You can improve a weak area by thinking of ways to turn your weakness into a strength. You may feel uncomfortable interacting and appear shy if you don’t talk much to people. By recognising this, you can think about what the positives could be. For example this may make you a good listener
  3. Build confidence: If you believe in yourself and believe you can improve your weakness, the chances are you will.

You can take a hundred surveys, strength finders and self-assessments that analyse your answers and create a list of your top talents. I’ve done this myself many times but I began to think, is this a true reflection or just the way I see myself?

 Why not create a survey yourself for others to answer? Ask them to write a story about when they saw you at your best, collect the results and you can connect the dots for yourself. You can then see yourself through the eyes of others around you.

Find what works best for you. Just because you do something differently to the next person, does not mean it is wrong. Our differences with others can help us progress by learning new ways of thinking and doing. All of this helps us to become the best we can be.

Part of Bromford's feedback team, I have a passion for writing and all things fashion and beauty. 

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