When was the last time you performed a personal talent inventory? If you can't remember or you never have, it's time to do it. If it's been more than a year, it's time to do it.

What's a talent inventory?

Young businessman sitting in office chair in front of a wall with cloud thought sketched on a chalkboard above his head

A talent inventory is simply listing every type of talent and expertise that you possess, along with some basic categorization of each one and spending time thinking about where you need to develop new talents.

List the talents that you use both professionally and personally. No talent is too small to list at this point. Spend a few days, maybe a week, adding to the list. Ask those who know you and are familiar with you at work and elsewhere what they'd add to the list.

With the big list compiled, highlight your distinctive talents. These are the ones where you are strong at them, you get better at them as you use them, and they give you tremendous energy.

After that, look for strengths. These too are areas where you perform well, but you don't enjoy that same spark when you use them.

Then, highlight those talents that give you no energy and where you just don't get better at them. You may even perform worse at them the more you use them because they drain you.

What you have left are your everyday talents. You're okay at them, you use them, but they are pretty routine in your talent set.

Reviewing Your Talent Inventory

What questions should you be asking at this point, primarily about your distinctive talents?

Try these:

  • Are there any distinctive talents that I'm not getting a chance to use enough? If so, how can I change that?
  • Is demand changing for my distinctive talents, either professionally or personally? If so, how do I feel about that?
  • Are there other talents that I haven't listed because I'm not skilled in them, but I'd really like to develop them? What are my priorities and plans for doing that development work?
  • How can I jettison more of my weakest, energy-sucking areas from the things that I have to do?
  • When I look at the list and the demands on me professionally and personally, are there any talents missing? Can I adapt some talents to fill those holes? Where else do I have work to do on talent development?

That's a basic talent inventory. Start working on it today. Your continued growth will benefit as will your contributions to life. And, that's all important stuff! – Mike Brown

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