In last week’s article, we talked about how to identify your strengths and lead with them. Leading with your strengths is the first part of the equation to providing maximum value to others. The second part of the equation involves your skills, passions, and values.
Strengths + (Skills + Passions + Values) = Value to Others
As opposed to strengths (which are natural attributes), a skill is something you have actually learned, honed your ability, and have experience doing that provides a benefit. Skills can be difficult to articulate because it’s not necessarily a natural strength, but something you’ve spent time and energy developing to the point where it is of value to someone or something. A great way to think about a skill is the question WIFT:
“What’s in it for them?”
When somebody asks you what skills you have, you want to respond in a way hat expressed the answer to the WIFT question. By doing so, you go beyond just thinking about yourself, and consider what tools you have and how they are valuable to others (your company, the marketplace, the world, etc.)
For example, when asked what skill someone has, a common response is that they are a “people person.” That answer is weak. It provides nothing about how that skill is of use or value to somebody else. A better way to articulate being a “people person” as a skill is to say “you connect with other human beings immediately, which leads to stronger teams and client relationships.” That is communicating your value. That is a skill. Again, instead of saying you are “punctual,” explain this skillset in terms of WIFT: “I am calm, reliable, and always available to offer support. I am the type of person who is up to speed on deadlines and meetings. I’ll never make you wait or stress, which will allow you to focus on the things that matter most and increase effectiveness and productivity.”
As a business, using the WIFT method to describe skills allows you to communicate clearly to your customers and clients, while also authentically aligning your personal skills to connect better with others and get results for your company.
At launchbox, we don’t believe in hiding your passions and personal interests in the workplace. What defines you at work, defines you personally, and vice versa. The people who are disconnected from what lights them up and makes them hear sing (passions) are the ones who are unfulfilled, stuck, and/or disconnected from their work, organization, or life in general. Identifying and understanding your passions is important because in order to have a great career and be of maximum value, you must align your work with what drives you personally. By seeing where your passions and work/life are out of alignment, you can gain clarity on what you need to do to fix this, and therefore make the changes to increase your happiness and drive.
Often times, people say, “What if I don’t know what my passion is?” I encourage you to forget the word “passion.” Instead, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are you curious about?
- What makes your heart sing?
- What makes you lose track of time?
- What would you do if money was no object?
Answer each of these questions. These are your passions!
Values are your real-deal-no-BS-what-you-are-made-of principles or standards of behavior. Here are some examples of my own personal values:
- Empowering others to make a difference
- Creating value for others and enabling their growth
- Making meaningful connections
The best path toward shaving a great career is aligning you personal values with a company’s values. The best companies that stand the test of time are the ones that have a clear set of values they live and die by. For example, look at Zappos. They have their “Zappos Family Core Values,” which the company continuously uses to develop its culture, brand, and business strategies.
Zappos Family Core Values
- Deliver WOW through service.
- Embrace and drive change.
- Create fun and a little weirdness.
- Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded.
- Pursue growth and learning.
- Build open and honest relationships with communication.
- Build a positive team and family spirit.
- Do more with less.
- Be passionate and determined.
- Be humble.
Don’t you just love these values? It makes you want to say “duh” when you read the list. Many of these values overlap with mine, and so many others, which have allowed me to have a great career. However, as great as the Zappos values are, you don’t want to adopt theirs. You want to look within yourself and think about what makes you and your company the best versions you can be. Those are your values.
Take the time to identify your values. Pay attention to what you personally care about—what drives you—and use them to express your business values. That’s how you articulate your real-deal-no-BS-what-you-are-made-of principles and standards of behavior. Now, you have the ultimate equation for providing value to others. Whether it be family, friends, bosses, colleagues, business partners, etc., it doesn’t matter…the equation works: Strengths + (Skills + Passions + Values) = Value to Others
Want to know more about how you can kick ass in work and life?