When I first took the CliftonStrengths© it was at a friend’s suggestion. I have a thick file stuffed full of assessments so it was just a chance to sample a new one. I thought the results were interesting and, not knowing what else to do with it, I stored it away in my thick file of assessments. There it remained for two years. I didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t know what made it different from other assessments. I did not even know that the Top 5 results it provided were not my “strengths.” Then a couple years later a friend of mine called and said, “Hey, I took this thing called the CliftonStrengths© and I’d love to talk with you about it.” We talked and talked and we started making connections that I hadn’t made before and I thought, “This is a really powerful tool.”
It helped me understand myself in a new way because I had always labeled myself as “lazy.” Or, more accurately, others described me as such and, not knowing a better explanation, I adopted theirs. When I was a child, I was always trying to think of how to avoid unnecessary work. Doing things for the sake of doing them never excited me. What excited me was ideas. In school, I was the kid who got kicked out in the hallway because I would interrupt the teacher with ideas that I thought were more interesting. When I learned that I have Strategic and Intellection and Ideation in my top 5, these qualities made sense of how I operate in the world. The author Joseph Conrad said, “No, I don’t like work. I had rather laze about and think of all the fine things that could have been or that can be done. I don’t like work, none of us does. I like what is in the work, the chance to find yourself, your own reality for yourself not for others, what no one else could ever know. They can only see the mirror show and can never tell what it means.” When I first experienced this quote I’m like, “Yes, that’s me, I don’t like work. I would rather laze about and think about things that can be done, the possibilities.” the CliftonStrengths© helped me to understand the names for that quality.
The author Joseph Conrad said, “No, I don’t like work. I had rather laze about and think of all the fine things that could have been or that can be done. I don’t like work, none of us does. I like what is in the work, the chance to find yourself, your own reality for yourself not for others, what no one else could ever know. They can only see the mirror show and can never tell what it means.” When I first experienced this quote I’m like, “Yes, that’s me, I don’t like work. I would rather laze about and think about things that can be done, the possibilities.” the CliftonStrengths© helped me to understand the names for that quality.
More than that, it helped me see the potential value I could bring. It helped me see qualities that I internalized as negatives and instead use it as a sort of compass to find the work that didn’t feel like work at all. It helped me do things such as create Talent2Strength. As you experience more of what T2S entails, I don’t think “lazy” would be an accurate description.
What I realized is that we have these stable qualities (our themes) and we existed in a world that is full of a variety of constantly shifting opportunities, situations, and people. At any moment, our qualities can be a perfect match for those things in our environment or they can be a discordant mismatch. I also learned that we have more influence over finding those matches and avoiding mismatches than we may realize. It begins by taking a proper inventory of one’s significant qualities and the CliftonStrengths© has been the single most valuable tool for doing so. And, this is another reason I get excited to bring this tool to others.
As I started working with the the CliftonStrengths© more, I had to discover for myself how this tool works. I’ve spent my professional life developing ways to apply, what I considered to be, useful knowledge. That’s what I do as a consultant or as a coach, or as a director of a youth leadership development program. A constant thread in my life has been to help people by bringing useful ideas forward in a way that is actionable. I saw this was needed with the CliftonStrengths©. Just as I had done for 2 years, others were missing the incredible benefits of the CliftonStrengths© because they did not understand it.
I began by first developing tools for myself, and then began teaching those tools to others. When I went through the Gallup certification, I realized that I had already developed a robust curriculum. The Gallup certification confirmed that my tools were on track with where Don Clifton wanted it to go. My work with clients was further confirmation. That’s what I’m bringing here to you. I’ve done Talent2Strength work with thousands of people. Every model and tool gets tested hundreds of times over until it is developed and refined to be the most user-friendly version that I can make it. I see myself as experimenting and trying to fine tune and help people learn this better because I’m such a fan of it.
People have started to grow numb to assessments, so that by the time they take the CliftonStrengths© many may say, “Oh, another one of those assessments.” I want people to see how much value there is to be had from the application of this tool. I don’t want anyone to lose that because of the glut of assessments in circulation.
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