Accurate not arrogant: admitting your strengths

* In honor of the spectacular Stephen Hawking, who died early this morning


What are you really good at?

Does that question make you squirm? Or is it just me?

Perhaps it’s a product of my humble Canadian upbringing (heaven forbid a Canuck be proud of an accomplishment) but the idea of talking about the things I’m good at seems about as fun as a bikini wax.

But isn’t there a difference between confidence and arrogance? Between honesty and grandstanding? Isn’t it our right as people of this planet to embrace the things we are good at – isn’t that, in fact, our societal obligation?

Why can I only admit that there are some things at which I do not completely suck? I say things like “decent” to describe my writing, my yoga, my workshops. I cringe when asked to promote the two books I’ve written. But ask me where my weaknesses lie and I’ll launch into a calculated and comprehensive attack detailing my sub-par spelling skills, fashion sense, and map-reading abilities.

Not everyone is this way. Other people can stand with pride and say “Hey, I’m good at this” and not be struck by lightning or fall so madly in love with themselves that they are rendered useless to the outside world. Other people can accurately name their strengths and then identify their weaknesses in an equally factual manner.  I know that these Other People are not just mythical creatures but they truly do walk around among us. I am married to one of these baffling mortals, which makes it all the more frustrating that I’ve not picked up on this particular habit.

If this is indeed a habit, it can be adjusted. So, here’s my plan: I’m going to write down at least ten things that I am good at. From big things to little things. From the serious to the silly. From my ability to self-motivate and hit even the tightest of deadlines to my talents as a Stuffed Animal Surgeon. I’m a devoted friend and I can cook without a recipe. I love to give away books and I can carry a six-foot-tall Christmas tree all by myself. I’m going to put that list somewhere I see it a lot and I’m going to look at it until the sight of that list doesn’t make my skin turn inside out.

Because here’s the real issue: if we don’t proudly stand up and own our talents – we get overlooked. If you’re locked in “move along, nothing to see here” mode, you are absolutely going to miss out on some awesome opportunities. And those opportunities are not just great for you; they are chances for you to empower and inspire others. That’s your moment to contribute some of your unique goodness to the world.

So, don’t be selfish and keep all your awesomeness to yourself.

Stand up.

Be seen.

Take up space in the world.

It’s your birthright to be here.

I want to hear it: what are you really good at? (Seriously, leave a comment and tell me.)

* and just one more, because he was amazing

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22 Replies to “Accurate not arrogant: admitting your strengths”

  1. I’m really good at listening and hearing, and I’m really good at helping people develop their ideas. And I’m a pretty good knitter. And I am excellent at belly laughing at dad jokes, especially my own.

  2. I always think of my flaws first … but I feel I am a good listener and loyal friend. It’s important to me show my loved ones I care for them even in the little things ❤️

  3. Loved this piece Lisa. As I’ve mentioned in the past, my daughter Nina occasionally suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. Reading this article with her made her realize she should be proud of what she’s good at and share her abilities to do something she loves. Doing yoga with me has helped her embrace her uniqueness and love herself more!
    ~Nelly in Texas

  4. This is hard. I am much better at naming my weaknesses. However, deep breath, I am compassionate, kind, a good listener, a good cook, a good mom, a loving mom, I have a big heart and endless empathy for the underdog.

  5. I’m good at reading maps, but even better, I’m good at finding my way to where I’m going without generally needing to look at a map. And I generally have good parking karma. 🙂

  6. Talking about what I’m good at and in what ways I’m a good person have been really difficult for me. Last year, my therapist gave me homework, to write 1-3 graditudes every day, but not about external people or things, about myself. Like “I’m grateful to be the kind of person others feel comfortable opening up to” or “I’m grateful for my quick wit.” It wasn’t easy. It’s still not easy, but it’s getting easier.

    BUT…I am good at finding information, I’m knowledgeable and witty and creative, I’m a good listener (which isn’t always easy, since my ADHD makes it difficult for me to always keep attention on what people are saying to me), a good writer, a good public speaker, and I give good hugs. So there!

  7. Most days, I only think of how I am not good enough or how I can improve areas of my life that I’m not great (dare I say, bad) at. But I have to remember that I AM good at other things.

    Thanks for this, Lisa. I love your work!

  8. I’m a good guitar player. Was forced to admit that one day and felt like a douche for saying it, but by all metrics I play the guitar very well. And sometimes I can sing fairly well while I do it, particularly Eagles songs. So there’s that.

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