How to Know What Your Strengths Are

... and why smiling is underrated

If you want to have a glorious career then doing what you’re good at should be the only way forward. But how do you know what you’re good at?

Feedback Analysis

Peter Drucker talks about this method in his book Managing Oneself. He says the only way to accurately gauge your strengths is through feedback analysis.

The idea is to take a decision or an action with the expectation of a certain result and then monitor it. After a reasonable time frame of 12 to 18 months, check if the results are in line with your expectations. If they are then you know what you can execute well. Results of your key decisions and actions can help you decide what you’re good at.

Of course, you shouldn’t aim either too low or too high for this to work. You need to first understand what results you can deliver when working from a point of strength and chasing an audacious but not impossible goal. Once you’re sure, you can work on improving your strength by acquiring related skills and then aim higher.

Smile Even When You Don't Want to

I have to admit that I don’t smile often. It doesn’t come naturally to me. This, despite knowing the benefits smiling brings. I have seen people getting their way by just smiling confidently at the right time.

Here’s some advice for me from Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People:

You don’t feel like smiling? Then what? Two things. First, force yourself to smile. If you are alone, force yourself to whistle or hum a tune or sing. Act as if you were already happy, and that will tend to make you happy. Here is the way the psychologist and philosopher William James put it: “Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.

William James was right.

Food for Thought: Having Kids in the Era of Climate Crisis

Climate crisis has spawned all kinds of doomsday narratives and pessimistic approaches to our lives including the idea of not having kids. Having or not having a kid is a personal choice and I find it disconcerting that people are comfortable advising others to not have them because we are all doomed to suffer.

Ezra Klein’s eloquent monologue on this sensitive topic towards the end of the Generation Climate Change episode of his podcast is worth paying attention to. He argues that humans are usually bad at predicting the future and we don't really know what the next chapter of human story is going to be. And obstacles and difficulties have been there for every generation. People forget that we've had antibiotics for only 100 years. The human story, for all of its failures, is beautiful and there's meaning in it. 

The episode’s worth listening to overall as well, discussing The Sunrise Movement and how to approach climate change from an angle of optimism instead of fear.

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