Discover Your Unique Design
What kind of a leader are you? Have you ever been asked that question? It always has felt a bit
vague to me, and if I’m honest, I always felt insecure responding to that question. I think that
may be because I didn’t have clarity around the answer. The good news is, I found clarity…and so can you! With just 3 easy payments of $9.99… just kidding…that just sounded too much like an infomercial. But for real, each of us has been created with a unique design that plays out in the way we lead others. Here are some thoughts on how to begin discovering your unique design.
The first step is to be specific in understanding and describing your strengths. I once heard
Steve Stoope breaks it down into discovering 4 categories about yourself. First, there are things
you are bad at. That’s usually obvious. I had a lifelong dream of becoming a drummer. I say
“had” because a few years ago, I finally admitted I don’t possess the necessary qualities to
become a drummer…rhythm. It’s pretty difficult to drum when you can’t keep a beat.
Then there are things you are good at. Those are things you can do just as well as everyone
else. Case in point: I can paint a room, and it will look okay. It wouldn’t be a disaster. Dare I say it may even look good? But no one would pay me to do it.
Then there are things you are great at. Those are the things you could get paid to do. For
example, I can publicly speak. I’ve done it a lot. I enjoy it and have developed skills over the
years to where I often get hired to communicate.
But there’s a 4th category. This is what you are uniquely designed for. Now, when most people
observe you, they can't tell the difference between what you’re great at and what you’re
uniquely designed for. But you can. As much as I like to communicate by public speaking, I
LOVE strategic leadership. Put me in a room with a whiteboard where I can work with leaders
to build out a strategy to move their mission forward, and I get giddy even thinking about it!
So, what’s your unique design? Take some time to take inventory. What are your strengths,
personality, spiritual gifts, experiences, expertise, and passions?
That’s the beginning. It’s just as important to know your weaknesses. Marcus Buckingham calls
weaknesses “things that make you weak.” That sounds pretty self-explanatory, but that
definition helped me think of not just things I’m bad at but things that drain me or sap my
energy. As leaders, we tend to wear a lot of hats and do whatever is required to make things
happen. That is all well and good until it isn’t. If we are spending too much time on the things
that make us weak out of obligation or need, we are diverting energy that could be used towards our unique design, the things in our organizations only we can do.
Recognize that we grow most in areas of strength. We hit walls, limitations, and barriers in
weakness. Now, that doesn’t mean don’t do hard things or avoid what’s uncomfortable. Very
few of us have the luxury to lead in that way. However, we should learn to manage and
minimize the time spent in those areas that drain us. Pay attention to where you can draw on
the strengths of those around you and yield to them in areas where you are weak. That is the
beauty of a team.
Where are your best contributions? When you invest time and energy into those things, there is
exponential return on that investment. When you function in your weaknesses out of obligation,
need, or guilt, your contribution will be an addition at best when the goal is multiplication. There are seasons when that is necessary and the only option, but the truth is, most of us stay in that season too long. Many times, the result is burnout.
So pay attention. Take inventory. What are the things you’re good at but you hate? What are the areas you are passionate about that make your eyes light up, energize you, are life-giving, and make you strong? Conversely, what are the things you dread that are life-sucking and leave you weak, drained, or depleted? As you reflect on this, pay attention to themes. As you do this, discover your unique design and invest in your strengths. That's where you will find the most joy, fulfillment and impact.
Need help discovering your design and talents?
We believe every great leader deserves a coach. Your mission is too great, and your time is too valuable to spin your wheels without support.