Having recently said goodbye to my Mother, I’ve been reflecting on what it is that forms us. There is much debate about nature versus nurture. This article by Saul McLoud explains that the nature versus nurture debate within psychology is concerned with “the extent to which particular aspects of behavior are a product of either inherited (i.e., genetic) or acquired (i.e., learned) characteristics”.

So when we think of nature, it’s about our pre-wiring or the “genetic inheritance” and other biological factors. And when we think of nurture it is generally taken as the “influence of external factors after conception, e.g., the product of exposure, experience and learning on an individual.”

The reason why I’m sharing these thoughts with you is that by reflecting on, understanding and embracing what has formed us, and who we are, is a key part of being able to identify and articulate our strengths.

Articulating Your Strengths Helps You Achieve Great Career Success

If you are currently in a career planning or job hunting season, then it is essential you do the work to help develop a strong sense of self, or ‘the identity piece’ as I like to call it. Once you can clearly articulate your strengths as they relate to your industry and the contribution you can make to an organisation, then you are in a much stronger position to achieve greater career success!

How to Identify Your Strengths

How well can you answer “What do you believe your strengths are?” While narcissists may find it easy to answer this question, for most of us, it is quite challenging to talk about ourselves in these terms.

I believe a lot of our strengths come from our family. We either build on these, or move away from them. We frame our identity from our childhood and use those pre-wired and external factors to form our sense of selves. It is only natural that we are strongly influenced by our parents, by both genetic inheritance and parenting. It is our parents who give us our fundamentals.

Today I would like to encourage you to reflect on your childhood and consider the following:

  • What traits and lessons did I get or learn from my family?
  • What was I told at school?

Examples may be that you were called a ‘rascal’ and that you challenged authority. Or perhaps you were constantly in trouble for talking in class.

It is with the benefit of hindsight that we can reflect on these messages and experiences and consider how they have helped form our strengths and who we are today. When you are in job interviews, networking for your next career move or writing about yourself in a Resume or LinkedIn Profile, you must be able to clearly articulate your strengths as they relate to the opportunities you are seeking for a career move or job vacancy.

A Personal Reflection

And so as my sisters and I ‘adjust our settings’ and consider the impact our mother had on us, I’ve enjoyed reflecting on her eulogy, which highlighted to me how some parts of who I am have been formed by her.

Please indulge me as I share some key parts of her eulogy with you here today. For those of you who know me, you will appreciate how significant this is to my own self identity.

In July 1962, she married and came to Australia and lived in a beautiful Victorian terrace in Carlton. They had 3 daughters.

She often talked about her childhood which involved looking after her younger siblings and taking care of the household while her parents went out to work in the fields. Her ability to run a tight and effective household stemmed from these days.

In her 20’s, she was sent to a nunnery and from this experience she learnt to be a great cook.  She enjoyed watching cooking shows and loved to experiment with cooking meals from other countries. So, we were probably the only Italians who grew up eating: Chinese fried rice, Hungarian cabbage rolls, Indian curry and rice, Greek spanokopita and Lebanese tabouleh – just to name a few!

She worked for the railways and travelled extensively with family to country Victoria and interstate. She was also a very good entertainer and loved social outings. In the 90’s, she joined the Italian Clubs and loved attending the group functions and heading off on bus trips to the pokies in Albury. After a few years, she became the President of one of the Italian clubs and remained so for some time.

She was also part of a church group and through this she started volunteering to look after the sick and the elderly.

In the words of my Niece:

“Our Nonna had many strengths and passions that have been passed down to her daughters and this can be seen in: Zia Marina’s social and leadership skills, my mum’s family commitment and Zia Pina’s love of different foods, travel and volunteering.

We thank you Nonna Carolina for the strengths, interests and abilities you gave us, we love you and we hope you Rest in Peace with your dear husband, beloved parents and brother.”

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