Today's Clinical Lab - News, Editorial and Products for the Clinical Laboratory
Photo of a sticky note that reads “Are you ready?” on a blue background.
Take your time, think about yourself and your past, ask your closest friends, find out who you are, and make it happen.
iStock, Canan turan

How to Leverage Your Innate Strengths to Grow Your Career

Each of us has natural, valuable gifts we can use to grow our success and sense of professional fulfillment

Photo portrait of Tiffany Payne, MS
Tiffany Payne, MS
Photo portrait of Tiffany Payne, MS

Tiffany Payne, MS, is the global clinical market director at Agilent Technologies. Payne received her master’s in chemistry and pharmaceutical sciences from the University of the Pacific, where she studied the use of mass spectrometry for rhenium-based anticancer agents.

ViewFull Profile
Learn about ourEditorial Policies.
Published:Apr 10, 2024
|3 min read
Register for free to listen to this article
Listen with Speechify
   Photo Boombox

The first step to any big change—be it personal or professional—is to define what success looks and feels like for you, and then decide what you need to do to make it happen. That said, knowing what it is that you could or should pursue can be daunting when there are seemingly endless opportunities and paths to take.

While there may be people who say, “follow your dreams,” or “do something you love,” I would suggest you try narrowing down your options based on what you are naturally good at and “follow your strengths.” These skills are those that feel effortless to you, and that you may even take for granted because you think they are easy for everyone (but they’re not).

So, where do you start? Here are some suggestions.

Uncover your self-imposed limits

Almost everyone has limits they are placing on their own happiness, success, or ambitions without ever knowing it. If you're interested in exploring the ways in which you may be holding yourself back, my first suggestion includes two book recommendations: The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks, and You Turn by Ashley Stahl.

Have you ever been sitting on the couch after a busy workday when you are hit by feelings of irritation, anxiety, or stress that seem to come out of nowhere? The Big Leap introduces the concept of the “Upper Limit Theory”—the idea that there is only so much happiness and success we will allow ourselves to have before we self-sabotage and bring ourselves down to a level of happiness (or misery) that is comfortable for us.

You Turn adds to that picture by exploring the amount of success we’re comfortable having and helps uncover our self-imposed limits that prevent us from achieving more. These comfort levels are formed in our developmental years in childhood, but if you can recognize your upper limits as an adult, it is possible to pass through them like an invisible wall and avoid the crash.

Once these limits are out of the way, you can start to focus on your unique talents that will provide the direction you need to find a new path.

Base your goals on your strengths

What is it that you can do (and maybe have always done) that feels easy for you? Is it talking to people? Is it finding trends in complex data? Is it solving puzzles? Think about the things you can do all day and not get bored (even if you’re working). Whatever that “thing” is, it will lead you to understanding your core strengths.

For me, I love storytelling, I love helping others tell their stories, and I love breaking down complex ideas into the “so what” factors that impact people’s lives. Interviewing people on camera and making them feel relaxed and comfortable is my superpower. I could do this all day, every day, and never tire of it.

Take your time, think about yourself and your past, ask your closest friends, find out who you are, and make it happen.

Put yourself out there

Once you have done your research and know what opportunities you’d like to pursue, I recommend reading Tara Mohr’s article in Harvard Business Review. To summarize, Mohr cites the statistic that men apply for jobs when they meet only 60 percent of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100 percent of them.

What it comes down to is that women are socialized from a young age to follow rules that ultimately don’t serve them in the hiring process: they may feel that they could do the job well but put too much emphasis on checking every box in the job posting.

But what’s more important is putting yourself out there: network, build relationships, and go after opportunities you want while knowing that if you’re talking to the right person at the right time, you can’t say the wrong thing. The worst thing that can happen is rejection, which isn’t that bad when you consider what you could gain by going after an opportunity that capitalizes on the skills that are foundational to who you are.

The alternative is to stay where you are. If that prospect feels untenable to you, congratulations, you already have all the clarity you need to get started!

Photo Leaderboard