Beginner's Mindset: Think Back to When You First Took the StrengthsFinder

strengthsfinder Jul 17, 2018

Think back to when you were first introduced to StrengthsFinder

- What was your experience like?
- What clicked for you?
- What didn’t?
-What happened that made you want to take CSF further (i.e. key experiences, interactions, etc)?
- Why do you want other people to have “this?”

Go back in your mind to when you were first introduced to the CliftonStrengths© . It’s important to keep that recollection. This is what most people you talk to about it will be experiencing. They will have a beginner’s mindset and it’s important to remember just what that feels like. 

I often forget what it was like for me and now that I’m so geeky about the CliftonStrengths© I want to talk about things on a much deeper level. If I’m working with a beginner and I jump into that level of depth, I haven’t brought my audience along with me and I risk diminishing their positive experience.

When you first took the assessment, was it immediately life-changing in the moment for you? Or was it more like, “Okay, fine, here’s yet another assessment. I’ll humor whoever asked me to take it?” Did you immediately agree with your results and understand them 100%? Or, did you casually glance over the descriptions and file it away? Did some themes resonate for you immediately? Or, were there some that didn’t quite make sense? Did you truly understand what the results were saying about you and how you interface with the world around you moment-to-moment? Or, did you get the general gist and leave it at that because you had other demands on your attention?

After someone takes the the CliftonStrengths© , I sometimes hear something like this: “I doubted the results.” When you hear this ask if they’ve shared the results with people that are close to them. Often they will confirm what is too close for that person to see, like a person with Competition not really “seeing” herself as competitive. It will often take a person a little while to observe themselves. Often, when they talk through their results with someone close to them they hear something like this: “I can’t believe you never realized that about yourself.”

Or they will have what I call “theme envy.” They will sometimes say something like: “My themes are boring” or “I kind of wish I had that quality or that strength in my top five.” 

It’s as if they are saying, “I want to have all 34 things in my top five.” Or they will use their own definition for Gallup’s theme names. Even Gallup has gone through a struggle to dial into just the right names for some themes. I came across some information where Harmony used used to be called “Peace Keeper” and Maximizer used to be known as “Varsity.” Why Varsity? Varsity is that idea like you could be junior varsity or you could be varsity, you could be the best. Connectedness used to be called ”Fairness.” Adaptability used to be called “Flow.” When you hear these other words for it, it helps you think about the themes in a different way. It’s a tall order to take a theme and make everything rest on one word. Take the word “Competition.” Right away there are thoughts that we have about competition such as “Oh, you’re so competitive.” The terms come fully loaded before we’ve even understood the true nature of the theme itself and why it’s so valuable.

It can mean a lot of things to be competitive, but if you understand Gallup’s definition it doesn’t necessarily come with those societal stigmas like, “All you care about is finishing in first place, you’re all about yourself. You’re a sore loser.” Those things could come with someone who scored high in Competition. However, and this is very important, if you truly understand the theme at a much deeper level you will expand your definition of the Competition theme. For example, before Competition is about winning, and it’s about the valuable information that comes from comparison. People with Competition are great at making comparisons and they do it with almost no effort. They always sense where they are in comparison to other people and that helps them know how they are performing and this spurs them on elevated results, and maybe that’s why at times they may get caught up in the thrill of testing themselves against others. They might want to win but it’s more about the pursuit of personal excellence. Understanding the backstory behind the themes is what can help give fuller meaning to them. The same expansive meaning is true for all of the themes. Each theme is so much more than the word used in the title. That’s the reason many of our materials at T2S goes beyond the name and description. We aim to bring the themes to life.

People sometimes come to their results sometimes saying, “I don’t know that I agree with this. I don’t know that a test can tell me all this about myself.” And yet almost every time this happens, it turns out that the results are accurate. the CliftonStrengths© is uncannily accurate. The key is helping people connect with their themes and then apply them to get the most out of their results.

Often people are very pleased to suddenly have words for things that they took for granted about themselves and are surprised to learn most other people don’t have the same qualities. They like the fact that, with so many different themes, they could see themselves and others through a more appreciative lens. “If I would have known this about myself some years ago…my work would have been easier” or…“I would have made different choices.” the CliftonStrengths© is a needed shift away from the constant search for what is sub-optimal about yourself or others. It reveals the truth: each of us is an equation of assets and liabilities and our job is to find the ideal fit between our true selves and our environments.

The themes provide insight for why people think, feel and behave so differently from each other. If my top theme is Responsibility and I can understand the powerful pull it has on how I participate with the world, then it becomes easier to help me understand how powerful the pull is for someone who has Analytical as her top theme. As we increase our familiarity with all 34 themes, we unlock a greater capacity for understanding of, and alignment with, others.

The the CliftonStrengths© is a sort of alphabet of human qualities and provides a language to put into words the qualities you already have. I love watching people get excited to see their value, worth and dignity.

What I’ve consistently heard the most falls along the lines of:

the CliftonStrengths© provides not just an, “aha” moment about oneself. It’s also invaluable learning about other people, and to be able to use the language of themes among individuals and between groups of people so that they can communicate better. It provides understanding for someone who may not have Competition but has a friend that has Competition. That friend’s behavior might have annoyed you in the past if she was always trying to compare herself to you-- “Where are your sales numbers at?” “How fast did you run the race?” A person without Competition might say, “I finished, that’s all that matters. Why do you care about my time? Worry about yourself.” But if you understand her Competition you understand this is one of the ways she measures her progress and pursues excellence. Then you begin to appreciate her behavior instead of being merely annoyed or confused by it. You understand she has a need that must be fulfilled. You can see her as a powerful ally when situations call for stepping up in situations that call for winning. She may help you become better by showing you how to learn from other skilled competitors and make improvements or strategies for outperforming others In turn, you may help your friend refine her competitive qualities so that she can use them to greater advantage.

This is as true for the other 33 themes as it is for Competition. Each has its benefits and liabilities. Each can be leveraged for positive results. We can use this remarkably accurate and useful information to be better versions of ourselves and help others do the same.

The the CliftonStrengths© gives a language to those qualities that we experience in ourselves and others. This is just one of the many benefits and an example of what gets me so excited about the CliftonStrengths© . When properly understood, the CliftonStrengths© can lead to many life enhancements. But there’s more to it than just taking the assessment and learning the 34 themes. 

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