Know Thyself

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swot analysis

Want to know more about yourself and what’s really hindering you from maximizing your potential, this SWOT analysis is sure to give you some insight.

You are more likely to get ahead in life if you use your talents and strengths to their fullest extent. In the same way, you’ll suffer less backlashes if you know what your weaknesses are and if you effectively learn to manage them.

How do you go about identifying your strengths and weaknesses as well as analyzing the opportunities and foreseeing the threats that come your way? SWOT analysis is a useful technique that helps you do this.

You begin by answering questions about each of the four areas being examined. Honesty is crucial or else the results won’t be a meaningful. Try not limiting yourself to the strengths that you currently display. List all the ones that have been dormant for a while as well. Make sure to note down what makes you special and unique.

Begin by identifying your strengths. These are the traits or skills that set you apart from others. Here are a couple of questions you could answer.

STRENGTHS

  • What advantages do you have that others don’t have?
  • What do you do better than anyone else?
  • What personal resources can you access?
  • What do other people see as your strengths?
  • Which of your achievements are you most proud of?
  • What values and ethics set you apart from your peers?
  • How strong is your network of connections?

If you still have any difficulty identifying your strengths, write down a list of your personal characteristics. Some of these will hopefully be strengths.

We now move on to weaknesses. Here we examine the areas that need improvement and what could possibly be holding you back in your career.

 

WEAKNESSES

  • What are your negative work habits and traits?
  • Does any part of your education or training need improving?
  • What would other people see as your weaknesses?
  • Where can you improve?
  • What are you afraid to do or most likely to avoid?
  • What negative feedback about your personality or work habits have you received?
  • Do you have personality traits that hold you back in your field?

 

It is important to be realistic in this field. You need to consider this from a personal as well as an external perspective. What do others see in you? Are your co-workers constantly outperforming you in key areas? It helps to face the unpleasant truths earlier on and work on them.

Now we look at any opportunities that may arise for you. Examine your strengths and see if these may lead to any openings. Now look at your weaknesses and ask yourself if these could open up opportunities, by working on or eliminating them.

OPPORTUNITIES

  • What is the state of the economy?
  • Is your industry growing?
  • Is there new technology in your industry?
  • Is there new demand for a skill or trait you possess?
  • What are the biggest changes occurring in the current business environment?
  • Have customers or co-workers given you feedback about new services you could provide, or ways to improve your manner?

You might also find opportunities in the following areas:

  • While networking at events, educational classes, or conferences.
  • If a colleague goes on an extended leave. Could you take on some of this person’s projects to gain experience?
  • A new role or project that forces you to learn new skills, like public speaking or international relations.
  • A company expansion or acquisition. Do you have specific skills (like a second language) that could help with the process?

Look at the external factors you can take advantage of to pursue a promotion, find a new job or determine a career direction.

Finally, look at the threats that inhibit your career growth. This takes into account the external factors that could hurt your chances to attain your goals.

  • Is your industry contracting or changing directions?
  • Is there strong competition for the types of jobs for which you are best suited?
  • Do your weaknesses inhibit your ability to rise in your company or change jobs?
  • What is the biggest external danger to your goals?
  • Are there any new professional standards you cannot meet?
  • Are there any new technology, education or certification requirements that will impede your progress?

Once you have filled out the answers, there are two ways to analyze the information and come up with a strategy. You can do either of two things: you can match or convert.

Matching means to connect two of the categories to determine what your course of action will be. For example, if you match strengths to opportunities, it shows where you can be aggressive and take action on those lines. On the other hand, when you match weaknesses to threats, it exposes the areas you should work on or situation that you need to avoid. It lets you know where you need to be more defensive of your position.

Converting means turning your negatives into positives. In other words, you convert your weaknesses into strengths or threats into opportunities. You could grow a skill set through education or find a creative way to showcase your weakness as a strength. For example, if you are outgoing in nature, working in an introspective and isolated environment may not suit you too well. In such a case, you should work toward a position in sales, for instance, where you can use your outgoing personality traits to interact with people, thus turning your weakness into strength.

FOLLOW UP

It won’t help if you don’t follow through with the outcomes of your SWOT analysis. It will fail to be effective if the elements that are found through the analysis cannot be put into play. The best outcome is to take action and succeed in the opportunities that you have identified through the SWOT. This will not only benefit you on a personal level, but on a professional level as well and it will set you apart from your peers and colleagues in the workplace.

 

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