The building blocks that define Talent2Strength and Positive Leadership originate in the field of Positive Psychology. There is a focus on finding the common understanding of the “positive” aspect in Positive Psychology. The field of psychology has three missions: 1) Cure mental illness 2) Make the lives of all people more productive and fulfilling 3) Identify and nurture talent.
In the past, after World War II, there was a shift toward a concentrated focus on treating mental illness that while absolutely important, detracted somewhat from the missions of making people’s lives better and fostering human talents. This primary focus on mental illness persisted over the next 50 years with occasional advances in the second and third missions (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, January 2000).
In 1998, a challenge was issued by the president of the American Psychological Association (APA), Martin Seligman and a group of his colleagues. Seligman’s speech to the APA...
What is the connection between being happy and our talents? Our talents can provide insight to what truly makes us happy.
Happiness is one of the central themes of Positive Psychology—a branch of psychology that’s exploded over the last two decades. Until studying Positive Psychology, happiness was a vague concept and had preconceived notions that happy people were the ones who were always smiling and giddy—two traits that would not describe me, for example.
Positive psychology helped expand my understanding of happiness to include other qualities: serenity, sense of fulfillment, and curiosity to name a few. While I couldn’t relate to smiling and giddiness, I could certainly relate to these three. It wasn’t long before I realized how to expand my definition of happiness.
Researcher Sonja Lyubomisrky, author of The How of Happiness, describes the happiness pie
She offers a formula: A person’s happiness = their happiness set point, + life...
Successful strengths coaching can be summed up as “the transition from contrast to alignment.” One of the most universally applicable tools in our work is based upon my observations of 20 years consulting to various organizations which boiled down to one fundamental concept: There was some degree of tension between the ways things were and the desired vision for the way things should be; and my word for that is “contrast.”
Now, contrast goes by many names: drama, discord, stress, anxiety. The causes vary but the experience of contrast is universal. It is characterized by negative emotions. It’s our hard wired way of knowing when there is contrast. The problem is that negative emotions warp our vision so we do not see clearly. While this is true, contrast provides information we cannot otherwise gain. The realization of what it is we want. If only we could suspend the tumult caused by negative emotions long enough to ask one question: If this is what I...
Recently, I watched Hear My Train a Comin', a documentary about the life and career of rock'n'roll great Jimi Hendrix. In this film, we meet two Jimi Hendrixes. The first is one most of us may know--a master of the guitar who exuded dazzling stage presence. The second, less-known version is the incredibly shy, introverted Jimi. To two versions seem nearly impossible to reconcile, but not quite.
Jimi was unnaturally obsessed with making music, and obsession would be an understatement. He cared about nothing else. He would almost never be seen without his guitar. This explains his prowess; playing the guitar behind his head or with his teeth were just two feats he regularly displayed. He fanned the spark of interest in music to a single-minded preoccupation; and occupation; and legacy. Jimi Hendrix forever shaped the world of modern music.
The first Jimi was the embodiment of supreme confidence. The second Jimi would hardly be distinguishable from a person on the street (aside from...
In any activities, we are all at different levels of performance. We know that one level of performance is strength—performing the activity consistently and near perfectly. But, if something is not at the level of strength, then what would we call it? CliftonStrengths© doesn’t provide for other levels of performance in an activity since its scope is themes of talent. So how can we measure the potential for strength in an activity?
To address this gap, I’ve have adapted a model that I learned while studying under an anthropologist turned business coach named Marsha Shenk.
It makes the most sense if we start from the bottom of the ladder and work our way up. Also, you can apply this ladder to rate your performance in every activity. And then use the strength formula to apply your talents, knowledge, and skill to improve your performance in the activities you wish to develop.
For any activity, there is always a time before we learn the...
The Alignment Meter is one of the most powerful tools of Talent2Strength. It measures thriving (alignment) and suffering (contrast) in our experience. This helps us identify, actively shape, and communicate with others as we measure our levels of contrast and alignment in a given activity. Our state of being is always evolving due to the variety of our lived experiences. Below is an illustrated interpretation of our model. The full model and activities that go with it are part of our curriculum. But you don’t need the full model to get value from it and apply it to your life.
The meter is like a speedometer that measures from 0-100. All of us have this meter inside of us. At any moment we know where we are on the Alignment Meter if we take a moment to orient to our thoughts and feelings.
I know if I’m suffering (0-25), if I’m doing something that I just find miserable, I feel weak, and I feel drained. If I wasn’t forced to do it I probably...
What’s at stake here?
We already covered much of what is at stake. In business, the profit, professional satisfaction, and income is at stake. In non-profits, effective use of limited resources to improve quality of life is at stake. In families, where people are criticized instead of encouraged, we weaken the social fabric.
Proper application, in all of these arenas, allows us to enhance the social benefit. For example, in the non-profit world, where resources are often limited, not trying to be everything to everybody (not playing to their strengths) but rather narrowing the focus and playing to people’s strengths will allow them to make a bigger impact in peoples lives.
In schools, the potential for human development is impeded by an outdated educational system that teaches to a test-which is not everyone’s measure of ability. We’re all different, fundamentally we are created differently, which is at least one of the lessons of CliftonStrengths© . Yet...
The Now Discover Your Strengths Chapter book is the foundation for the philosophy behind the tool. This book is primary source material from Donald Clifton. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it. The chapters delve into the differences between a theme/talent/strength and give a number of examples as to why there is a distinction. It covers the origins of CliftonStrengths© , what it is and what it’s not, and the philosophy behind it as well.
Let’s cover some key highlights from Now Discover Your Strengths. The main one is that we are raised in a deficit-based world, we’re just born into it. I look back at it now and I really feel the effects of it from my past. I was branded as lazy, and I can be but that’s not the full story, it doesn’t explain why I was considered “lazy”. I would hear things like, “Adam does not apply himself.” What they didn’t say is, “he seems...
Each of us exist in an ever-shifting environment of relationships, circumstances, opportunities, limitations. To the degree the individual is properly matched to his or her environment is what we refer to as alignment. To the degree that individual and the environment are out of sync is what we call contrast. Our primary aim at T2S is alignment. To achieve great alignment is to know the gap to reduce the gap between Contrast (0) and Alignment (100).
We help others excavate the authentic self (Clifton CliftonStrengths© and COIN are some examples of the tools we use) and help others shape their environments (Strengths Interventionist support). Helping people to live to their highest and best use is what we are after. When people are forced into situations where they’re not able to do that, then they are not the best version of themselves. They are living below their potential.
For example, in schools, the potential for human development is impeded by an outdated...
I recently met with one of the students who graduated from my youth leadership program, and she came back from College after a couple of years and one of the things we talked about was a student in her group who had committed suicide. It was a very painful discussion for both of us because we cared about the student very much.
I know there’s a lot more at play in something so tragic than the scope of what this can cover and I don’t want to oversimplify it but part of what he was going through was attempting to find his fit between who he was and the world around him. I just know from personal experience, and I know from talking to these other young people where depression rates are so high, that the pressures they are under (i.e. to pick a major, be somebody in life, etc.) contribute to these rates. As young people, they face all of this stuff when they aren’t equipped to understand who they are and how to find the fit with the world around them.
Most of the people...
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