How to Recognize Your Strengths

By Katy Macek

One of Megan Watt’s main sources of success isn’t a secret at all — she plays to her strengths, and one of those is teaching others how to play to theirs.

Watt is the founder of Dream Catalyst Labs in Madison and is a learning program manager for Exact Sciences — plus she occasionally does public speaking.

“My plans have shifted,” she says, noting that while she had planned on remaining with Dream Catalyst, she realized the frequent travel it required wasn’t sustainable for her long-term. So, she opted to return to working for an employer. “How I view and what I care about as ‘success’ has changed — but I still rely on my strengths to carry me through.”

So, how can you start playing to your own strengths? Watt has a certified formula: knowledge + natural talent + skills = strength.

We’ll let her explain more.

Become Aware of Your Strengths

Watt says it all starts with “recognizing the talents you were born with and being aware of those gifts that you have and cultivating those.”

To do this, think about things you’re good at, and don’t be shy. She recommends asking close friends and family this question to get another perspective.

“Strengths often bring you joy or satisfaction,” she says. “You can come alive, get into flow — those are signs that it’s a strength.”

Make note of these things.

Activate Discovery Mode

After you’ve listed your strengths, it’s time to think about how best to use them. Watt suggests really digging in here. Think about what else is important to you, but also get to know your values and how your strengths align with those.

For example, if one of your strengths is succinct writing, you might decide to use that strength to pursue a career in copywriting for a marketing firm or social media marketing.

The discovery phase is all about figuring out how your strengths and values can align, so you can take action.

Start Taking Action

Now, it’s time to put everything together. Watt suggests incorporating your strengths into your daily schedule. If a strength of yours is connecting easily with others, think of what that could look like on an everyday basis. For example, maybe you could reach out to someone in your network once a week for coffee. “Engagement is critical,” she says. “Our happiness really comes from engaging in strengths.”

Engage With Your Network

Finally, it’s important to lean into your network.

“Eighty percent of what you need to accomplish any goal exists in your current network,” Watt says. “You just have to ask for it.”

Leverage your network to help you achieve your goals. Finding a partner or a group of people who can pool their strengths toward similar end goals is a great tool.

“Nothing is done alone,” Watt says. “It’s often done with at least one other support person, if not a tribe of people. We are social beings, and we need that to accomplish goals and thrive.”

While your core strengths will likely remain the same, Watt says circumstantial and environmental changes may affect which of your top strengths are most prominent at any given time.

“You circle through your top six to 10 strengths on a daily basis,” she says. “Depending what capacity you’re in, it might change which of your top strengths come out, but there’s not going to be a huge shift.”

That doesn’t mean life won’t still throw challenges your way. But, Watt says, that just makes it more important to lean on your strengths to get through tough times.

“It’s important not to give up on yourself,” Watt says. “You might end up in a different place than you thought and you have to be open to success coming in different packages. Know that [success and happiness] pan out in different ways.”

What would you tell your 20-year- old self?

“Relax and enjoy the moment.”

– Megan Watt

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