Many professionals struggle to identify and articulate their strengths. When you’re changing direction in your work and life, this is even more challenging.
Read on to find out how mind-mapping can help you build confidence by increasing your awareness of the things you already know.
Why You May Be Blind to Your Strengths
Do you remember your driving instructor reminding you about checking blindspots? If you’re changing lanes, checking blindspots is necessary for safe driving. It becomes a habit. But there are also tools that you can use. You can widen your field of vision by attaching a curved mirror to the standard side-view mirror. Adding a blind-spot mirror means that visibility is easier.
In the same way, mind-mapping can help you expand you awareness of your strengths. It’s common for professionals to take for granted the things that they do best. Try mind-mapping as a way to overcome the problem of blindspots for strengths and skills.
Mind-map to Identify Project-Specific Skills
Choose 3-5 work projects that, when you think about them, you feel good about your contribution. Create a separate mind map for each project.
Put the name of the project in the middle of the page, and map out the key elements. What’s most relevant depends on the project. For example, you might included the goal, context, who was involved, actions taken and problems solved. Next identify the areas you contributed most. Name the relevant skills and add them to your mind map.
Choose a project with a well-defined goal that you were part of. Here’s a example to use as a reference if you wish. Imagine a project with a goal of reducing the number of people not attending their regular appointments at a clinic for people with diabetes. The pivotal issue in this example might be stakeholder involvement to find a workable solution for patients, health care staff and administration.
Compare Mind-maps Across Projects to Identify Patterns
Mapping out three different projects on separate sheets of paper will deepen your insights. When you’ve done that, have a look at your three mind-maps side by side.
What do you notice? Are there skills that are common across the three projects.
Depending on your situation, you may not have had more or less choice in the project roles you had. Of the roles you had and actions you took, where were you at your best? Which activities where most engaging for you?
Are there roles you would have like to have had, but didn’t have the opportunity? For further exploration and an outside perspective, share your mind-maps with a trusted colleague, mentor, or coach.
No other professional has the same combination of skills and experience as you. Because you’re so close to your own experience your strengths and skills may not less visible.
Mind-mapping is a way of refocusing your attention to get a different perspective. Comparing skills across projects is a way of deepening your appreciation of the things that you do best, as well as the things you want to do more or less of in your future.
Jennifer Bradley helps professionals get unstuck and move forward in their career and work life. She offers individual coaching and consulting, leads workshops, and writes about personal and professional transitions.