Five Ways to Find Out What You Are Uncommonly Good at That Don’t Involve Taking A Test

Five Ways to Find Out What You Are Uncommonly Good at That Don’t Involve Taking A Test

I’m average at most things. 

Definitely worst at answering a bunch of questions so that others can tell me how bad it is.

If you ignore the traditional tests and let simple curiosity do its job, you’ll discover hidden talents waiting to be unlocked. 

Rather than looking externally for assessment, turn your focus inward. 

Your experiences are uncommon gifts. Tune in. 

Let’s look at the ways you can find out what you are uncommonly good at.

1 // What helps you succeed

Reflect on your childhood, education or work history. Including time spent playing sports or in volunteer roles. Remember what made you stand out.

Once upon a time, I got a pet cow. We had the space, and my folks were indulgent enough to fund my mad wish.

It lasted a week. 

The cow ran roughshod over the flower beds that were my mother’s favourites. I failed to control her as she devoured the ivy-gourd creeper.

More than actually keeping the cow, I enjoyed convincing them to get me one.

I’d made my case with persistence and patience, highlighting how much learning it would mean for me. Or as a trial for a possible career path.

I felt most accomplished when they relented. At that time in my life, this was ‘success’.

I’ve gone on to participate in different businesses and careers. My role has usually revolved around convincing someone to take action or to make a decision I favour.

Finding the common thread will show you what path you should be on.

2 // How do you spend your free time

Your hobbies can tell you much about what interests you professionally and personally. 

Do you journal regularly? You are probably a great listener.

Do you immerse yourself in travel? You might make a good chronicler.

My friend is a pottery hobbyist. 

She is at her wheel several times a week, coaxing clay into shapes. She is the fastest learner I know because she does not stop until she has improved on her last clay creation.

Learning fulfils her and motivates her to do better. And she has become exceptionally skilled at using her hands in a short time.

Getting a sense of how you fill your days is a good indicator of what you excel at.

3 // Look for patterns

I have an unnaturally high curiosity drive. I cannot let a scrap of paper go by without reading it. Annual reports (yawn!), comics, postcards, anything with letters on it. 

Once, I fell down the stairs and landed on a heap of newspapers. Our house help had assembled it there to give away.

Hearing the noise, my mother came running to find me lying as I fell, reading the headlines.

I have no recollection of where I had hurt myself, but I remember what I the article was about.

I have read voraciously and variously since, actively searching for the tiny number of good books there are.

Every time my friends or colleagues need to cite a source, they turn to me to dig up the best fit. While writing, I can bring up material to support my topic quickly.

Reading has made me a reliable ‘researcher’.

What you do repetitively is an excellent indicator of your strengths.

4 // Don’t disregard unpopular motivations

One of the most powerful motivators is the desire to be better than other people at something. 

A lot of people do not admit to it. It makes them seem competitive as if that’s a bad thing.

Another equally strong motivator wanting to do things you are not supposed to. 

Like driving a motorized two-wheeler at 14, losing control and ending up in a bush. Like I did.

Going with any of these motivations seems counterintuitive until you see the plus side.
Any little thing you achieve is a positive when you are expected to fail.

The important thing is to get out there and do stuff. 

Instead of waiting to be taught, go out and give in to your desires. 

5 // Try lots of things

Just pick a project that seems interesting – master some learning material, make something out of wood, or answer a question troubling you.

Do something hard enough to stretch you, but only just.

If you are not progressing, it may seem like the project doesn’t fit in with the goal you’re supposed to have. 

But goals change. Let the project drive the goal, not the other way around.

As long as you are excited about it, you are learning more about yourself at every step.

Ultimately, if you don’t go outside your comfort zone, take risks, and fail, you’ll have nowhere to start learning, growing, and excelling.

It’s a big, big world out there full of opportunities waiting for us to find them. 

Sometimes, we can only find ourselves if we get lost first. 

Try traveling, taking new classes, and meeting new people to expand your horizons.

Sometimes, our skills aren’t on our radar until we stumble across a book or a place, or meet someone that enlightens us. You get to meet you, through someone else.

It changes how you see yourself. Just don’t let a test do it for you.

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