“Ask strangers”: Concrete advice that will help you figure out what to do with your life

Find your stengths.
Find your stengths.
Image: Reuters/Amit Dave
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This question originally appeared on Quora: How do I identify my talents? Answer by Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of Vaynermedia.

The key to loving your job is to ask yourself one simple question: “What is my biggest strength?”

Think about it: so many people are in jobs they hate because they haven’t found that one true passion. They are good at a few things so that’s what they do here and there, but they aren’t sure what that one big thing they want to do forever could be.

I like to share my thoughts about how to execute in businessthese are just the things that work for me. They’ve been historically proven, and are things that have brought me return on investment. I’m also aware that each person has their own beliefs, nuances, circumstances, and, most of all, their own DNA. So for all the people watching my videos or reading my posts, I wanted to have something to refer to when someone disagrees with me on the basis of circumstance, or doesn’t have success when trying something I’ve recommended. I needed to write this.

The truth is (and has always been, and will always be) that it starts with self-awareness. It starts with really breaking yourself down. The only real gift I have is that, for some unknown reason—be it great parenting, or great DNA—I’ve always known exactly what I was good at. I never worried about what I was bad at. It never even dawned on me to work on my weaknesses. Sure, I wanted to round out some things—fix some things to bring them up to some kind of average and make them consumable. But I’ve never ever thought about taking someone’s advice on how to execute. It’s always just been my way. I bought into what worked for me.

Here is my message: stop doing stuff you hate. Nail down your strengths so you can discover your passion.

I have four steps to help you figure out your strengths—this will hopefully help address all the comments and emails I see saying, ”How do I find my strengths?” or, “How I do I know what my best job skills are?” There are so many articles that dance around direct answers—I want to give you four concrete pieces of advice.

#1: What are my skills?

Take the five to ten people who know you the best. Split them into two categories: people you connect with on a deep level of love, and people who you are close with, but maybe you’re a little different in lifestyle and personality.

Then, ask one person from each category to honestly tell you what they think you’re best at, and what they think you’re worst at. “What are my skills and abilities, and what are my weaknesses?”

I truly believe that collecting market research and creating an atmosphere that allows someone to be honest with you are the two big things here. When someone really loves you, they might not want to be totally honest, because they don’t want to hurt you. But the quickest way to find your strengths is by eliminating weaknesses.

#2: What are my strengths?

You can’t take a romantic view on the skills that have made you successful so far in life. For example, you might have been a straight-A student even though you have no passion for academics. Or you’re naturally amazing at basketball, but that isn’t what you truly want to pursue. One way those strengths can come in tremendously handy is by using them as a blueprint to discover talents you may not have understood before. Maybe you’ve been blinded by the particular activity itself because you aren’t passionate about it—instead try listing all the things that that activity requires you to do. Don’t take those skills for granted. There are many things that go into being good at something. Your skills don’t need to be restricted to that one arena.

#3: Read everything

Finding your personal strengths is, well, very personal. But I want to make sure I leave you with real, actionable advice.

So here is a super specific one for you: go on a vacation.

Yeah, seriously.

But it’s not a total vacation. During that time, you’re going to go back through every email, letter, or note someone wrote you, talking about your accolades or failures. Read all of them. And as you read, ask yourself, “Which of my skills am I consistently praised for?” And on the flipside: what do people continuously say you are bad at?

This task could take many many hours. You might be thinking it will take too many hours.

But think: you are the one who clicked on this article. It can’t be that much time because it seems like you really want to figure this out, right? In the end, it’s a small amount of time to sacrifice compared to the happiness it will give you for the rest of your life.

#4: Ask strangers

On social media, make a video or post asking everyone the very question we have been repeating over and over: “What are my personal strengths?” This can be phrased in a number of ways to determine the strength of your content, if you produce things. I like to ask what I am doing that they like. What have they found helpful? What has my best work been? Where is my potential?

This is currently the widest net you can cast to get information. Because these are people who have been viewing you from a very specific perspective—your social media personality—you are able to curate that part of your life, and determine which strengths to pursue.

Following these four steps, you should have the depth of personal information you need to move forward to a new destination. Bring all these thoughts together to find the skill and strength that will benefit you. From there, the options are endless: a new career move? Start a new company? Find a business partner that complements your strengths and work for him? Start a company with him?

I’m pumped for you just thinking about the awesome stuff you can do.

So please enjoy my rants and my thoughts, but I implore you, if you decide to execute on my advice (or anybody else’s), you need to self-analyze first. Poke holes in your process and find out what has brought you success. In the 16, 18, 40 years of your career, where have you really shined? Whether artistic or calculated, whether black and white or grey, spend just a minute a day on auditing yourself and figuring out your strengths. If you find your strength is salesmanship, or storytelling, or patience, or organization, or human resources, or caring for the end consumer or your coworkers, then you need to keep paying attention to it. Or if not, then maybe you need to find someone whose abilities map onto yours, try to follow what they do, and make those actions your own.

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