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What Are You Great At?

By Michael Zipursky

The title of this article is a critical question not enough of us ask ourselves. “What are you great at?”

Each of us has a strength. Some area that we excel in. Whether it’s a natural ability or one that we’ve developed over time. We all possess it.

While you might find this question simplistic, I assure you it’s extremely powerful.

To be great at something you must be better at it than others. You don’t have to be the best – though it always helps if you strive to be.

At some point in your life you’ll likely encounter a time (if you haven’t already) where you find yourself searching for your passion. Wondering what your purpose is on this earth. Thinking about your next step. Wanting to become more successful.

It’s at times like that when you want to ask yourself, “what am I really great at?”

Allow me to offer you some suggestions that will help you figure out what you’re really great at if you don’t know already.

Ask yourself:

• When do I feel most passionate or excited?
• What does the environment around me look like when I feel happiest?
• What do friends, family and colleagues praise me for?
• What do people always ask me about?

Over the last decade I’ve found out that I’m great at educating.

I feel honored and very satisfied when I work with my clients and coach other business owners and consultants.

The first time I gave a presentation to other business owners I did feel nervous. I was confident, but had some jitters no doubt. The feeling after I gave the presentation was one of elation. Not only did the participants come up and ask me questions, the organizers of the event said it was a hit.

Of course, that made me feel good. I made money that day, but it wasn’t about the money, the act of giving back to others and sharing my experiences with others was a wonderful one.

It’s not always easy to figure out what you are really great at. It’s worth your time though. Once you figure out what you’re great at, and do use the questions above to help you, you’ll feel more purpose. More energy.

Start spending more of your time working in an area that you’re great at and not only will you be happier, you’ll become more successful.

I’d love for you to share what you are great at in the comments below…

17 thoughts on “What Are You Great At?

  1. Manju says:

    I am good at getting at analyzing business situations, come out with best solution, optimize team productivity, be focused on goals and excel in delivery leading to customer satisfaction. I would like to be able to articulate my experiences like you have done here. Though my verbal and written communications are pretty good, have not not tried articulating them in blogs etc.,

    Would love to develop that capability. Do you have any guidelines please?

  2. Excellent points Michael. I would add that you’re great at something if you’re better OR different at something than someone else. Two people can be great at the same thing, but by being different at it they remain unique. I also like to use Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours example (from Outliers): think of something you’ve done regularly, and like, for the past 5-10 years, then apply the ‘Ask Yourself’ questions in the post above.

    • Bart – the 10,000 hour rule is a great one. For more info on that check out the book, Bounce.

  3. Brian Bice says:

    I would argue that you can be great at something that you don’t really enjoy. I spent 3 years as a trainer, and by all accounts, was extremely successful at it. I couldn’t wait to get back to management. The key is finding something that you are great at AND enjoy doing. Anyone, with the right work ethic and key skills, can be great at something. However, it won’t be sustainable over the long term.

    • Brian – that’s an important note about having passion about the work you do.

  4. Jim Lake says:

    I agree with Bart….great comments Michael. However, we should not forget there are (or should be) two key mental perceptions a person should have when the ask the question, “What am I great at.”

    I believe most of the time one of these mental perceptions is based on what society/culture tells us is the level of greatness. We judge greatness based on benchmarks set by society, not ourselves. If this is the only framework used, we miss out on another very important mental picture. Our own internal, unbiased judgment of what makes us great.

    Bart, your comments make complete sense to me in context of looking outward and judging our greatness by comparing ourselves to others…and their comparing themselves to us. The latter happens when others ask for our advise, want to absorb our expertise, and/or want to assimilate the uniqueness that is ours alone. This makes us feel wanted and desired by others…special. There is no denying focusing on external benchmarks for measuring our greatness is very beneficial and a necessity. Achieving beyond these benchmarks drives our external business success, be it position, responsibility compensation.

    However, it is just as important not to ignore our own internally set measures of greatness. Greatness that does not rely on what society tells us but is based solely on what we believe of ourselves. Using both of these mental pictures provides the same end results so why not actively use both in determining what we are great at? The same level of happiness and joy come from both methods.

    Using both of these foundations in setting one’s perception of greatness enables a person to feel special and unique…To society and internally within ourselves. This leads to happiness / joy which leads to maintaining a tremendous positive attitude. Having a tremendous positive attitude is a people magnet which can tremendously enhance all of a person’s the point where others will perceive us as being great at some thing. Even if it doesn’t measure up to society’s benchmarks or our personal criteria……

  5. Jim, an excellent elaboration, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  6. Thanks everyone for the comments on this post. I’ve been in Chicago and now Munich the last few days and look forward to reading through everyone’s thoughts very soon.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Great stuff. Completely agree with Brian too. You may be really good at something that you have absolutely no passion for.

    Great example is us former military guys. A lot of guys and gals are amazing at what they do but yearn for something more. For me it was following my passion for small business and helping others do the same.

    Thanks for the gold nuggets!

  8. JDLake_LGC says:

    @Carlos – Agree totally with you. Reaching a level of greatness in doing something implies putting in supreme effort or being gifted (from birth or though a life’s situation, i.e. savant, epiphany that brings instance knowledge/awareness) or a combination of both.

    If greatness is reached mostly through effort, it implies considerable time commitment. Without passion, a person sacrifices other things that mean more to reach this level of greatness. What elicits this effort without passion? Love and compassion for others and not for self? Survival?

    Personally understanding our internal drivers and why we reach greatness without passion brings acceptance, not regret. This awareness also reinforces that we, as individuals, are the only ones to ultimately make final decisions concerning our lives. It is not an outside circumstance that dictates how we should live….it always comes back to us.

    • Jim – as mentioned above I’d highly recommend reading Bounce if you haven’t already – great book on this very topic (I’ll share some ideas from it on the blog in future posts).

  9. Emerald says:

    Hello all, I am pretty new to this consulting thing but I have always been able to to bring structure to an organization. People always compliement me on making customers calm, negotiating the most complex situations, and have great customer service skills. That’s why I started to be a consultant because you can implement all of those skills and build clientele.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I am eternally grateful for the article I intend to make use of the advice,since I am trying to determine what given my qualification and experience where my passion lies. I am interested in consulting by I am crippled by fears especially after a business venture I was involved in failed. I am trying to move pass and move on to the next challenge taking the learnings with me. Thanks for all the advice

  11. Anonymous says:

    I totally agree that understanding your internal drivers are important in an individual’s quest for greatness. But the presence of external drivers can also have a significant impact since the very nature of human beings is to seek acceptance and validation. Thus, what I think is important is for individuals to distill those internal drivers that will impel us to find our passion and reinforce by our external drivers.

  12. […] Posted In Managing Your Career | No comments Tweet What are you great at? is a critical question to ask yourself when you start up on your own and its one that we will be talking about in the Taking the Plunge Audio Masterclass Series .   Michael Zipursky will be sharing his thoughts on that question during his masterclass on “Getting Started as a Self-Employed Consultant”.  Today’s blog post is taken from an article by Michael.  You can see the original here. […]

  13. Jason says:

    This is a great topic. I am an educater also. I teach and educate the construction industry about the rights and wrongs in our existing homes and buildings, and how to make them perform at their best by using building science and energy efficiency techniques. How do I market to my national clientel properly to help them?

  14. Jason says:

    This is a great topic. I am an educater also. I teach and educate the construction industry about the rights and wrongs in our existing homes and buildings, and how to make them perform at their best by using building science and energy efficiency techniques. How do I market to my national clientel properly to help them?

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