Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

—Marianne Williamson

How do you respond when someone gives you a compliment? Do you say thank you and take it in? Or, do you tense up and dismiss what you’re hearing?

Many of us are raised to believe that we’re being self-centered or bragging if we celebrate our accomplishments. You may feel awkward talking about your strengths or undermine your abilities because they seem like no big deal. When you share your successes, you might follow it up with “But I still need to work on X.” It can be scary to stand out, so much so that sometimes, my new clients tell me that receiving compliments or appreciation makes them nauseous. If you shy away from celebrating who you are— strengths, warts, and all— your view of yourself can become warped, and you can have a hard time bringing your gifts to your work.

I have a completely different story about your gifts to propose to you.

Here it is—

Your strengths are gifts that life has given you, whether through hard work, heartache, privilege, luck, study, experience, or the simple act of being born. By celebrating your gifts, you give thanks and ready yourself to share them with the world. As Alan Senauke, Zen Buddhist teacher, says— We are responsible for the world and to the world we live in. A gift has been given to us to share with everyone.

When you take time to shine light on your gifts, you get clearer about how you can bring them forward in your work and life.

Let’s start with a few online strengths assessments.

These are powerful tools to help you uncover and appreciate strengths you may have taken for granted. Although these assessments are often typically considered to be set-in-stone descriptors of innate talents and strengths, I encourage you to think of them differently.

These are not fixed pictures of who you’ll always be, rather, they are snapshots of your current abilities. As you develop new strengths, the assessments will reflect the changes you make. For example, I’ve taken each of these assessments multiple times, and always, my answers are different and reflect the inner work I’ve done on myself over the past year or more since I took the assessment last.

I recommend taking each of these assessments and then pausing after each one to write notes about what you discover.

Next, I invite you to reflect on and appreciate your strengths and skills.

Get centered and tune into an inner sense of self-appreciation. If a part of you has a hard time with this exercise, acknowledge that part and allow it to be as it is. It can also help to take a moment to appreciate anyone who helped you develop your strengths, sending them appreciation as well. Then, write down what comes up in response to the following questions—

  • What are at least five things you genuinely appreciate about yourself?
  • What comes to you so naturally and easily that you hardly think of it as a skill?
  • What specialized training, credentials, skills or experience do you have?
  • What knowledge do you have that you believe can make a difference in the world?
  • What areas do you have higher-than-average expertise in?
  • What is unusual about you or something that not many people share?
  • What skills are you excited to bring to the next phase of your career?
  • What new projects or careers might allow you to share these gifts?

From now on, I challenge you to catch yourself in the act of using your strengths and your gifts and savor the experience of celebrating yourself.

Finally, think about what you excited to learn in the next phase of your career.

Write down what comes up in response to the following questions—

  • What new strengths are you excited to develop?
  • What new experience are you excited to gain?
  • What are you excited to become known as an expert in?
  • What projects or careers might allow you to develop these new gifts?

I’d love to hear from you—

What are the five things you’re good at that you wrote down?

It would be a joy to celebrate your gifts with you!

If you have a friend or two who might benefit from shining a light on their gifts, would you please forward this article on to them? Thank you so much!


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