In my coaching practice, I often encounter clients who are very keen to discover more about their gifts and talents. 

Recently, someone was quite distressed that she was approaching fifty and still hadn’t landed on the career that best matched her talents. When I asked her to give me a summary of those talents, she was a bit vague.

I asked her who she was, and she looked at me from the screen, puzzled. 

I told her that as we get older, we are fortunate to have received more feedback as to how people perceive us. We have had different jobs. We have developed a number of close relationships: friends, partners, children, colleagues. Ask them to summarise the person they encounter. My elderly mother has kept the Mother’s Day card I made when I was seven, in which I wrote confidently about ‘My Mummy’, warts and all. ‘Her favourite programme is the news.’  

When I did my initial coaching course at Henley Business School, we spent an age coming to recognise and understand ourselves. Only when we are self-aware are we truly able to be available to others, went the mantra. So, I did a lot of self-examination.

It taught me that I cannot sum myself up in a few skills, talents, characteristics, MBTI letters, or whatever. I constantly need to derive feedback from whatever I do, whoever I meet, whichever setting, environment, or circumstance I am in. Ask people. Reflect. Journal. Pray.  

Then I suggest that you/we write a summary of who we are. Not the sort of all-star genius that LinkedIn would encourage us to invent for our profiles, but something more real, more human, more authentic.  

I listen to a lot of people public speaking, and I do a fair amount myself. When I have coached people on this, I ask them to search for their voice and to be themselves. I caution them about trying to copy others. I ask them to be confident in their voice, and to match their tone to their content, with no attempt to extract more sentiment from it than it demands.  

As we develop more confidence in who we are, it’s much easier to seek out work, career-next-steps, life moves etc, as it’s then a question of matching the one to the other.  

In summary:

  • Look to develop a much fuller picture of who you are
  • Get feedback
  • Don’t obsess about isolating your particular gifts or skills – a broad idea will do
  • Keep doing all of this throughout your life, to take account of how you are developing.

How about giving it a go…?