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Each and every one of us has points of strength and weakness.
And while conventional wisdom says that we should identify our points of weakness and see how to improve them, sometimes it may make sense to focus on strong points to excel and achieve professional-advancement goals.
This focus on your superior abilities doesn't mean that you should totally overlook the areas that need improvement.
But the point is to channel your energy, learn and advance where you will be able to distinguish yourself, and bring up the rest of your skills to an acceptable level.
With that in mind, the first step is always to identify — realistically — your abilities and sort them out.
This can't happen in absence of feedback from supervisors, coworkers and friends. Knowing your edge will lead you to ways that can sharpen these skills and take you to the next level.
Here are a few pointers on how to go about setting yourself apart from the pack.
Keep track of what your supervisors and co-workers commonly reference in terms of your best skills.
What type of projects do you appear to be the best fit for? Hopefully these two factors are in line with your interest.
Regardless to what your areas of strength are — be them your leadership skills or attention to detail — know how to build on them.
This doesn't mean just doing more of the same job duties. Instead, you should know how to employ your skills in different settings and projects.
You also can seek feedback from people who know you professionally but don't work for your employer. For example, clients, mentors, industry professionals and past coworkers may feel comfortable discussing your potential candidly, because the discussion doesn't bring any consequences or promises.
Measure your performance
In addition to formal assessments or evaluation, try to get a sense of where you stand in terms of industry peers. Do you rank among the best in the industry on a local or national level? If not, what can you do to be among the best.
That may sound like a far-fetched goal, but only if you set your eye on such a goal, you will be able to distinguish yourself.
Find industry competitions, contests or rankings, and see the eligibility requirements to be considered. If you are not eligible, meeting these requirements in a year or two should be your first goal.
Once achieved, you will be able to find if you can land among the best. If not, don't give up. Have a plan for polishing your skills, seeking extra training or education, and working harder to be able to reach this goal within a reasonable time frame.
Without benchmarking your performance and knowing where you're in terms of productivity, quality and ranking, your hard work is being aimless. This benchmarking coupled with a goal ensures that you stay on target. This effort also helps you avoid the typical loss of enthusiasm that comes with settling in a comfortable job.
You don't have to do it all. If you know that a weakness point for you is your poor organisation skills, for example, seek help or delegate these tasks to someone else. Your awareness of this shortcoming should keep you performing at an acceptable level, however.
Generally, if your position allows you, try to avoid pouring efforts into tasks that only get in your way of focusing on where you excel. This even applies to major work tasks.
If you find that the broad job duties include many tasks that are not within your abilities, interest or future advancement plans, discuss with your supervisor what you can do to chat that.
Again, that tactic may not work for an entry-level job when you're needed to learn a little bit about everything.
But once you can define your edge and gain some leverage with your employer, learn how to keep a laser-focus on achieving an advanced level of achievement in particular areas that set you apart from the rest.
Build on your strength
- Sharpen your skills to stand out
- Improve your weakness points to acceptable levels
- Align your potential with career goals
- Delegate and work with others
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Source: Rania Oteify, Special to gulfnews.com
The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor