You have Unique Success Power. This is the unique combination of your talents, strengths, knowledge, abilities and more that make you a unique person, not exactly like anyone else. Here’s how to discover yours.
If you fully understand your Unique Success Power and how to focus it in the marketplace and relationships with others, your chances of achieving great success are high indeed. You will have the power to succeed. This post explains how to do that. (I am writing a book about Unique Success Power and sharing parts of it through my blog posts here. Your questions and comments are welcome.)
Hundreds if not thousands of books have been written about how to be successful in life. The oldest surviving book in the world, The Teachings of Ptahhotep[i], was written 5,000 years ago. It tells young Egyptians how to be successful in life and the royal courts.
I have read so many success books I can’t count them all. But the vast majority of them provided a success formula that was essentially one size fits all. The authors implied that you could be successful like them if you followed the same steps. Not one of them adequately explained how the reader could discover his or her Unique Success Power before providing a truly practical system for success in life and business. Let’s look at how you can discover your Unique Success Power (USP). It’s not super-simple, but if you follow along, you can certainly understand and make use of this valuable information.
Appreciate Your Uniqueness
It is extremely important for you to appreciate your uniqueness as you come to understand your Unique Success Power and develop your own Unique Success Power System. Do not be a copycat. Be authentically you. (This recommendation is the exact opposite of some success “gurus” who recommend that you find someone who is successful and imitate them.) Only a Success System based on your uniqueness is going to work, is going to last, is going to satisfy you now and in the future. You are indeed one of a kind in the entire worldand throughout all of history since the dawn of time. Consider this:
- Your genetic make-up is unique. You come from a long line of human beings going back hundreds of thousands of years. At no other time in all those years has anyone had the same genes as you do. You are the offspring of a unique mother and a unique father. You carry the genes of your unique grandparents, and so on, all the way back. You were born unique.
- Your brain is unique. This master-control center of your existence contains billions of neurons and recordings of your entire life history. Everything you know is physically located in your brain. No other person has a brain like yours.
- Your talents are unique. There is one thing or several things that you do better than other people. Maybe its athletics or music or other arts, writing or singing, organizing or executing, problem-solving or creative thinking, cooking or cleaning… the list is unlimited. You are probably not the only person in the world with your talents, but the combination of all of them along with your genetics and brain iscertainly
- Your body is unique. It’s pretty incredible that with all the world’s billions of people, no two are identical. Even so-called identical twins do not look identical to their parents or close friends. Subtle differences in facial expressions, ways of speaking and moving, and other physical factors set us apart from others. You may not be a movie star or a beauty queen, but you are uniquely beautiful! Treasure your uniqueness.
- So what does this mean? It means your capabilities for success are unique, and your best pathway to success will be unique. This is why my Unique Success Power System profoundly appreciates and accommodates the uniqueness of every person who seeks to use it for their own life success. Many other success systems instead present a one-size-fits-all formula that worked just fine for the author of the book but may not be a good fit for you at all! Think about that. It’s very important.
Analyzing Your Unique Success Power
As noted above, few if any success books provide an adequate process for evaluating the reader’s unique strengths. In the following content, you will find substantial depth on this topic. This is because I truly believe that only by understanding and building on your unique strengths can you achieve maximum success.
In traditional strategic planning, this analysis step is called Situation Analysis and involves identifying strengths and weaknesses of an organization. Personally, I dislike the word weaknesses and prefer to use the term gaps. A gap indicates an improvement you would like to make, but that doesn’t mean you have a weakness – in fact it can be a positive.
Now let’s analyze your current situation and your Unique Success Powers.
Analyze where you are on your key success factors
In a previous post, we introduced you to the 9 key success factors of life. Start analyzing your Unique Success Power by working through the nine key success factors and write down your strengths and gaps of each, using a clean sheet of paper, Word or Excel document:
Be honest with yourself. Nobody is going to grade you on this work. But take the time to write it down on paper or a word processing document to get it out of your head. Of course you can review and think about this as much as you want later on.
A valuable part of understanding your Unique Success Power is understanding who you are as a unique individual. The more you understand yourself and define your own Unique Success Power System based on your strengths, the more likely your success will be. I highly recommend you use the following personal assessment tools to gain more self-awareness:
Analyze your unique personality
Through a combination of your subconscious and conscious brain functions, as well as your body and how you use it, there emerges a unique property called your personality. According to the American Psychological Association, “Personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving.” That sounds a lot like our four internal factors of mind, body, emotions and spirit – only they left out spirit, as most scientists do. Personality is the combination of things that make you a different kind of person from other people.
One valuable way to measure and describe your personality is through the Myers-Briggs personality (type) indicator. Although there is much more to the human brain and personality than this, the Myers-Briggs can be remarkably accurate in describing your personality type, determining what types of activities and jobs you would enjoy the most, and in general what type of success would be most appealing for you. I have found it a powerful tool counseling many people over the course of my career, as well as better understanding my own preferences for dealing with life and the world.
Having used and administered the Myers-Briggs for more than 30 years, I have seen how it can be a truly effective way to understand each person’s uniqueness and help them find their best fit in life and work. I highly recommend you take some form of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator now. This will help you as you follow along through developing your own Unique Success Power System. Go to Truity.com or any other “free myers briggs test” you find online and take their version of the Myers-Briggs; on Truity it is called TypeFinder. Be sure to print out your results and save them for future reference.
In case you are not familiar with it, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was developed by two Americans, Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers, based on the theories of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. Jung had speculated that people experience the world using four principal psychological functions – sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking – and that one of these four functions is dominant for a person most of the time. The Myers-Briggs team expanded this into four continuums:
- Extraversion-Introversion—where you prefer to focus your
attention and get energy
- Sensing-Intuition—how you prefer to take ininformation
- Thinking-Feeling—how you prefer to makedecisions
- Judging-Perceiving—how you orient yourself to the external world, preferring an organized approach or an open-spontaneous
Each of these eight terms has special meaning within the MBTI and should never be taken literally using dictionary definitions of those words. Let’s look at each one a little more closely:
The 8 Myers-Briggs Personality Characteristics
|Extravert – More oriented to the outer world of people and things. Energized by interacting with people.||Introvert – More oriented to the inner world of ideas and thought. Energized by peaceful time alone such as reading or thinking.|
|Sensing – More oriented to concrete facts, objects and things observable by the senses.||Intuitive – More oriented to possibilities and connections, including abstractions not observable by the senses.|
|Thinking – Making decisions based on impersonal analysis and logic||Feeling – Making decisions based more on personal values and feelings|
|Judging – Preferring to be well organized, a tendency to structure things into lists and timelines and to make fairly quick decisions||Perceiving – Preferring to remain open to possibilities, not be highly organized but rather checking possibilities and details before deciding|
Each person is considered to have one preferred quality from each continuum, producing a 4-letter type indicator like ESTJ or INFP, with 16 different types in all.
Odds are you do NOT have the same type as most other people you encounter, including your spouse or significant other. This is a major cause of confusion and conflict in relationships. As an example, pastor David T. Moore, who is a big fan of Myers-Briggs, gave a funny talk called, “Why Can’t You Be Normal – Like Me?” available on amazon.com in audio format.
Three other online “tests” or strength indicators can also be very helpful as you seek to understand your uniqueness:
- The VIA Character Survey at VIACharacter.org, which will help you understand your innate character, which is different from your personality type
- The CliftonStrengths Assessment developed by the Gallup organization, online at gallup.com/CliftonStrengths. This also shows another picture of your strengths different from Myers-Briggs or VIA. CliftonStrengths is not free but focuses on four “domains” very relevant to the workplace: strategic thinking, relationship building, influencing and executing.
- The Big 5 personality test, which some psychologists and academicians prefer over Myers-Briggs because it has been shown to be astatistically accurate predictor based on research studies. I have not used it with clients because one of the “Big 5” personality factors is neuroticism. Even if many people have neuroticism, I consider it a very negative term for group One reason I prefer the Myers-Briggs is that there are no negative factors. All types are “good,” and everyone can use the results in a positive, constructive manner. However, the Big 5 provides a level of detail which Myers-Briggs does not. It can provide valuable insights for your self-assessment and allows easy online comparison with the results of others such as a spouse or family member who take it at about the same time. It can be especially valuable for couples or relationship therapy in the hands of a skilled therapist. Like the Myers-Briggs, you can find free versions of the Big 5 Personality Test online.
The more you understand your personality type, character and strengths, the better you can chart a course for your life and work that is compatible with who you are, your unique strengths and preferences. This increases the likelihood that you will enjoy greater success and happiness as a result. This is extremely important, and the reason I recommend that you start your success journey or your “system building” by getting to know yourself.
Analyze Other Personal Success Factors
Now that you know your personality type and other mental characteristics, to further assess your strengths, you need to consider many factors. You are strongly encouraged to write this down on a sheet of paper or a word processing document, because writing it down is far more powerful than just thinking about it. It will stick in your mind better and provide a firmer foundation for building your own Unique Success Power System.
Get out something to write with and do this exercise now for best results. Draw a line vertically down the middle of a sheet of paper or computer page and title the left side Pros and the right side Cons. Then here’s what you need to evaluate, noting the pros and cons of each, in the privacy of your own place:
- Your mental strengths and any mental problems you might have
- Your physical strengths and limitations
- Your emotional state and any emotional problems you might have
- Your spiritual state and relationship to God or a Supreme Power
- Your knowledge – what you know and what you need to know
- Your talents – things you do better than most people, such as music, athletics, writing, art, fixing things and more
- Your resources – family, money, personal and business connections
- Did we leave something out that you think is important to you in your life? By all means add it to this life assessment.
Before you start writing your Pros and Cons, it might help to think about some of these key factors in more detail:
Your Mental Strengths And Any Problems
Your mind is virtually unlimited. But through evolution your mind has evolved to minimize the effort required to perform a task. Your mind is naturally lazy. This conserves energy, which is good for survival, but it is not good for increasing your success!
A few fortunate people are naturally very self-disciplined and can do just about anything they set their minds to. For these fortunate few, success comes more easily than it does for the rest of us. Most folks do only what they have to, and even then, the natural laziness often kicks in. It’s easier to put out a little effort and get a C in class than to work hard to get an A. We tend to get into a comfort zone of daily routines, and even though we might wish for greater success, getting out of that comfort zone means making ourselves uncomfortable – and that is not easy.
Some people are also naturally more intelligent than others. It’s easier for these people to make the A’s, do well on written tests, and be successful in life. But if you are smart enough to be reading this book, you are plenty smart enough to learn more. You just need to develop the habit of constantly learning useful information, which we’ll discuss later.
Underneath these more obvious mental factors such as self-discipline and intelligence, many people have underlying mental problems that can have a huge impact on success-ability. In my own case as I mentioned earlier, in my early 20s I experienced anxiety, panic attacks and agoraphobia for causes totally unknown to me at the time. These were frightening, excruciating experiences that made it hard for me to make it through the day and keep my job, much less be successful. Thanks to the Good Lord, those challenges gave me the motivation to learn how to control my mental problems, to become more confident and self-disciplined, and to acquire the knowledge that is allowing me to write this content. But it was a difficult struggle over many years.
One simple test of whether or not you have underlying mental problems, which I believe many people do have, is to answer this question, Can you do anything you want to do? I’m not talking about flying by flapping your arms or turning lead into gold. I’m talking about doing your job, driving a car alone, speaking before a group, building positive relationships with new people, maintaining healthy habits — basically everyday stuff of life and business. If not, you may need psychotherapy or learning self-mastery by practicing what is in this content and related posts.
Before we move on to the next topic, take a little time to write down in a notebook or document your observations about your own mental strengths and problems, as honestly as you can.
Your Physical Strengths and Limitations
In addition to muscular strength, many of us have special talents such as running fast, swimming, throwing a ball, shooting baskets, playing defense, weight-lifting or other physical gifts that we just naturally do better than most of our friends, classmates or colleagues. So make a note of any physical special qualities you have.
Most people have healthy bodies, but many struggle with physical limitations. Perhaps you have a physical problem with your body, an illness, problems with your weight, drug addictions or impaired senses. Or perhaps you are fortunate enough to be strong and healthy, in good shape and physically active.
Whatever your physical condition, it is extremely important to make the most of it in order to be more successful. We will discuss this further in another section.
Any effort to achieve greater success of any kind is going to take energy, and the best way to have more energy is to build your strength through regular physical activity. So in this first step, honestly assess your physical strengths, limitations and habits, and consider what you could improve.
Your Emotional State and Any Problems
It is difficult if not impossible to separate your mental condition from your emotional condition. However, we need to look at emotions separately here because they might get ignored if we just took a limited mental focus.
For many years scientists thought that there must be a place in the brain for anger, another for joy, another for fear, and so one for the many different emotions. But recent research has determined that emotions are a combination of mental and hormonal (bodily) responses to a perceived situation. Each such emotional response is constructed in the moment, involving different parts of the brain, in a microsecond. This concept of how emotions are made on the spot is called constructivism. And creating each emotion happens so fast, it actually occurs before we can even feel it!
So let’s say we are walking in the woods and suddenly see a big bear coming at us, and we feel fear and the urge to run away. We think that is a reaction to seeing the bear, but actually it is a prediction of how we need to respond. Our glands pump adrenaline and other “fight or flight” hormones to energize our muscles to save our lives. And all this is good if it is in fact a bear.
But the same thing happens when we encounter someone at work or in a store somewhere that we perceive as a threat. All those hormones come flooding in, our bodies feel on fire, and there is nothing we can do but suck it up. Situations like this cause stress and are very hard on human minds and bodies and hearts. Modern humans’ inability to flee or fight when encountering a threat in a business or social situation is one reason stress is so devastating for so many people, leading to all sorts of mental, physical and emotional illnesses.
So what is your emotional state in general? Are you happy or depressed? Are you positive about your life and future or negative, worried or anxious? Do you feel loved, and do you love others easily? Do you have anger issues and sometimes explode?
Emotions are like thermometers that give us readings (feelings) of our various internal conditions. Most often emotions are triggered by mental processes, which may be conscious, subconscious or unconscious. They can also be habitual, for example, every time you look at your messy room you feel down. Emotions can be a continuing state, like being in a new love relationship or long-term depression.
However, research has found that the average emotion only lasts about 90 seconds[ii] if we just let it pass and don’t amplify it by what-if thoughts (“What if I am having a panic attack,” etc.) or don’t construct stories we tell ourselves (“My whole life is a failure,” etc.). This is something you can learn to control by just letting the emotion roll through your body, observing it for what it is, and not interpreting it in any way.
To some degree you can also control your emotions through mental override. I learned to overcome feelings of anxiety or impending panic by telling myself over and over, “I am calm and in control.” You can learn to control your emotions in a similar manner, and this can greatly enhance your success in life. But like everything valuable, it takes work.
Take a few minutes now to write down your current emotional state, any problems you’re having, and how you would like to be feeling.
Your Spiritual State and Relationship To God
There is definitely a spiritual dimension to human life, to your life, and this allows each of us to have a personal relationship to God or a Higher Power as you may experience it. Extensive research has shown that people who go to church regularly or engage in similar worship are happier people who often live longer. TIME magazine has reported:
“…scientists have found, again and again, that those with a spiritual practice or who follow religious beliefs tend to be happier than those who don’t. Study after study has found that religious people tend to be less depressed and less anxious than nonbelievers, better able to handle the vicissitudes of life than nonbelievers.”i
As Saint Augustine famously said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
Many people are confused by what seem to be contradictions between the claims of science, which they were taught to trust in school, and the claims of religion, which can be contrary. The famous physicist Stephen Hawking, right before he died, said, “There is no God.”
Actually there is no place for God in science. Science is based on observable facts and data. “Faith,” as the Apostle Paul said, “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” But you do not have to bet your life on either science or religion. Each one is a method for thinking and acting in a particular realm of human existence. Science works well in the laboratory, astronomy, physics and chemistry, whereas faith works well in human relationships, in your relationship to God, in understanding the meaning of life, in caring for the less fortunate and much more.
I and many others strongly believe that genuine success in life depends on a personal relationship with God. You might get rich without that relationship, but you might also lie, cheat and steal along the way. You might get promoted without that relationship, but you might step on, hurt and undercut other people along the way. However, success should not be considered having lots of wealth and power but in being the most complete person you can be, your highest self.
The best way to treat other people in life is by following the Golden Rule — treat other people the way you want to be treated, or even better, the Platinum Rule, treat other people the way they want to be treated. This kind of love in action pays huge dividends in life because we are all hardwired to respond to it in a positive manner, and the act of loving others appropriately makes us feel better as well.
Take a few minutes to write down your thoughts about your spiritual state and relationship to God, and whether or not you want this to be part of your pathway to greater success in life.
Your Knowledge and Life Experiences
Chances are you do not know how to pilot a cruise ship, although you may have steered a small motorboat at some time. But you have a tremendous amount of knowledge and information stored in your incredible brain. From the day you were born, possibly even in the womb, your young brain sucked up knowledge like a sponge. Language acquisition in one’s early years occurs so rapidly it can be astonishing. One minute the toddler is going “Yabba-dabba-dabba” and the next she is speaking in complete sentences, or so it seems to family members like proud grandparents.
You learned a lot before pre-school and outside of school. You learned a lot in school. And all your activities from using a computer to playing sports or reading or dating have all enabled you to learn a vast amount of information. So again, take out a sheet of paper or computer document, draw a line down the middle, title one side Pros and the other Cons, and write down what are the positives and negatives about what you have learned in your life so far.
Evaluating Your Talents
Everybody has one or more things they do better than most people. In the case of Tom Brady, it is throwing a football and staying cool in the pocket. In the case of Itzhak Perlman, it’s playing the violin. For Picasso, it was a unique style of abstract art. For Billy Graham, it was evangelism. In my case, it is writing and strategic thinking.
Every famous person was famous for something, usually a talent that they were born with and developed over time through tremendous practice.
You, too, have talents. Maybe you are aware of them, maybe not. Either way, now is the time to identify them clearly, because they can greatly aid your drive toward greater success. The CliftonStrengths test we mentioned earlier will help identify some of your talents, especially those that are work-related. But you can also do this yourself. Think about what you loved to do as a kid. Ask your parents and friends what they think your talents are. Think about other people you know, including those your age, and what their talents are. Maybe you got recognized for some special ability in school or other group settings. Identify your talents. Own your talents as precious gifts you can use, if you so choose, to achieve greater success, even if right now they are just sitting in the corner gathering dust.
Remember now, the purpose of all this analysis is to be highly realistic about your strengths and gaps if any as you plan your success journey, the development of your Unique Success Power. We’ll talk more about your success journey in future posts, so come back often.
[i] You can use this (affiliate) link if desired: https://www.truity.com/?a=53464