It is important to know where your weaknesses lie, so that you can improve upon them. However, it is just as important to understand what you do best, so you can capitalize on that strength.
Do you know what you are best at? You might be good at many things; you might be good at few. But of all the things you do, there is something that you do better than anything else. What is it?
Knowing what it is that you excel at can be very powerful. It allows you to tailor your life accordingly, so that you can maximize your impact on the world. Your job, your friends, your hobbies, your life partner — knowing your strengths might impact all these choices.
Of course, there may also be other factors to consider as well. What you enjoy the most is important, and isn’t necessarily the same (although it might be). Other things to consider might be areas of greatest need, or, earning potential.
At any rate, knowing where your skills lie can help you to live a more fulfilled life. What do you do best?
Related questions: Why do we like what we like? How do you define success? How do you judge yourself? What gives a person value?
3 thoughts on “What Do You Do Best?”
My imagination is one of my strengths. I am best at using it to create collective storytelling campaigns to build social justice advocacy power. The conditions need to be right, and the organizational supports need to be in place. Those things being the case, I can often imagine ways for people to contribute to a campaign — usually through a prop — to amass power. I’ll share one example.
Several years ago, Minnesota’s then-governor, Tim Pawlenty, proposed making significant cuts to a tax credit called the Renters Credit. This credit makes sure renters are not devoting too much of their rent to pay landlords’ property taxes. The proposed cuts were going to drastically hurt the state’s renters with extremely low-incomes.
Back then, in my first stint as HOME Line’s Public Policy Director, I wondered what we could do to demonstrate that these cuts would keep renters from being able to afford basic necessities. We decided to ask renters across Minnesota just that: what would they forgo buying — often in their local economy — if the Governor successfully denied most of them hundreds of dollars each year? Amongst the answers, buying: school supplies for their kids, glasses for family members, tune-ups for their aging cars, extra supplies (like toilet paper) to be bought in bulk to save money, non-perishable foods (like ramen noodles … and spices to make bland food tastier), annual doctors’ check-up, sometimes even medications, and the list goes on.
In addition to asking people what they’d buy, we asked them to write a note to their state legislators, asking them to reject the Governor’s plan. Staff at HOME Line then asked volunteers to contribute the products, goods, or containers of the things people reported they bought. We then filled scores of “Renters Credit Shopping Bags” with the donated goods and representations of services along with the notes renters shared with us attached to the appropriate item in the bag.
Next, we delivered the shopping bags to state senators and representatives so they could interact with a tactile prop making real the ways their constituents would suffer if the Governor got his way. Some legislators prominently placed the props in their office as proof they would be fighting the cuts to the Renters Credit.
The massive effort worked. We saved the Renters Credit, partially because I conceived of this idea for a campaign, but mostly because people used the prop idea to give voice to their opposition and hopes for a win.
If I had more time, I’d write about the “Three Words for Home” campaign, or asking librarians to collect for me their favorite books about collective action, or the Tenant Bill of Rights campaign. And the list goes on.
Using my imagination to achieve social justice … oh, I love it.
I suppose my answer, unsurprisingly, is: “Ask questions.” After all, I started a blog where the primary purpose is to ask interesting questions, and spark conversation, and we’ve been going at it for years now with no end in sight.
Years and years ago, I made a point to ask many of my friends and family how they would describe me in one word. I had in mind a few words that I expected to hear as a result.
But what I actually heard was a revelation. Every single person I asked — more than thirty people — answered differently. This was a powerful illustration to me of the fact that everyone sees and values you differently depending on what individual relationship that person has with you.
However, one of the answers really stuck with me. The respondent cheated slightly by answering with a hyphenated word (I didn’t mind) with their way to describe me: “Talk-show-host”. Even then, I had a reputatation for interviewing whoever I was talking to, asking probing questions that wouldn’t be asked in a typical conversation.
In a way, that answered helped lead to this blog. It’s not a direct line, but you can trace a path, however twisted and gnarled, from one to the other. That’s me leaning in to my strength, and I think we should try and do these sorts of things more often: recognize our best qualities and do something that uses them in some way.
I should mention, of course, that I don’t run this blog or come up with the questions all by myself — I work closely with Michael to come up with all the questions we ask. That’s why most of the questions are posed by “Question Asker” and not one or the other of us.
Whether in my career as a lawyer or outside, my greatest strength has always been writing.