Briefing Notes: You Have to Know It to Play to It

Published: October 20, 2019

“I would like to be remembered as someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.” — J.K. Rowling


We’ve all heard it. Play to your strengths. But you can’t play to it if you don’t know it.

Unfortunately, lots of people don’t know — or can’t explain — what they’re good at. What it is that they bring to the table, their unique advantage, their edge?

Mind you, I didn’t always know myself. It took someone sitting me down and pointing out what made me stand out among my peers. I thought it was abc. And he said, “No Lou, it’s xyz.” It was an eye-opening convo.

The Muse offers three areas to look into for clues about your talents. The things you love about your career. Where you lose track of time. What’s on your be-proud list. All good questions for sure. But too often, they lead to more head-scratching and furrowed brows. “I don’t know how to answer these questions, Lou!”

If you need a more structured — less navel-gazing approach — try these resources: (And if you’re curious about MY results for each of these, scroll down to the “Last Word”)

StrengthsFinder (affiliate link) This is a book that gives you your code for the online assessment.
Fascination Advantage This is an online resource.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator This is an online resource.
Enneagram This is an online resource from the Enneagram Institute.

The last two on the list may not point to your strengths directly, but they’ll help you understand yourself better. And I say understanding our tendencies and preferences is the first step to uncovering what makes us unique.


The latest on Second Breaks: Dr. Michelle Mazur knows something about playing to your strengths. Her unintentional side hustle got started because she wanted to flex her communications muscle. One super ranty blog post later, she had the seed of what would become her full-time consulting practice. Talk about playing to your strength. Check out Ep 114 on your mobile device. Or read it here.


“I would like to be remembered as someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.” — J.K. Rowling


Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead
by Tara Mohr
“I have seen hundreds of women with big dreams get stuck behind a wall of fear just as they are about to create something great. Playing Big holds the key to gently and firmly pushing down the wall so that no woman is held from her rightful destiny.” —Pamela Slim, author of Body of Work
Read or listen (amazon affiliate link)


As promised, my results from the resources I recommended above:

StrengthsFinder: Top 5 strengths: Achiever, Intellection, Significance, Focus, Input
Fascination Advantage: Archetype: The Veiled Strength
MBTI: INTJ (introversion – intuition – thinking – judgement)
Enneagram: Type 5 wing 6

What’s one thing you can do this week to increase your understanding of your strengths?


A former management consultant and IT leader, Lou Blaser is the editor of Briefing Notes and the host of the Second Breaks podcast. She is also the author of Break Free: The Courage to Reinvent Yourself and Your career. Lou’s work is focused on helping experienced professionals navigate an evolving work landscape so they can continue their impact and relevance in a changing world.

The world of work is changing.

Stay smart about it.

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