My name is Adam Seaman, and I'm going to be sharing with you information to help you live a strength-based life. We, at Talent2sstrength have our own methodology and use a variety of tools to accomplish this goal and we will be talking them over in the blog.
One of the tools I use is called the Clifton StrengthsFinder. It's very important to me that you get the most value out of this tool possible, and I want to help make the application as easy as possible.
I want to take you back in time. The year was 1996. I was driving down a local highway listening to a radio program, and the person being interviewed, Donald Clifton, was so fascinating that I had to pull over to take notes. I've never done that before or since.
Clifton described the research he had done with successful people. He had studied over two million people who were considered effective in their pursuits such as teachers and business people. He found that the quality they all held in common was that they played to their strengths. These successful people focused their energies on their strengths and they would look for ways to build their life around their strengths as much as possible.
He made a point to say that playing to your strengths does not mean that you're ignoring weaknesses. Instead what he found is these people managed their weaknesses, were aware of their weaknesses, and didn't ignore them. Now, this resonated with me because my whole life I had been taught to focus on my weaknesses. Like most people, I was very aware of them and even developed a complex around them. They were always present, always haunting me. Every time I met a failure or a challenge, I immediately looked to my weaknesses. And here's this man who discovered, through his research, that the most successful people, are aware of their weaknesses, but they figured out what their strengths were and built their life around it.
Now, I want to fast-forward about 10 more years to when an acquaintance of mine introduced me to StrengthsFinder. In my work in organizational development and executive coaching, I have had the occasions to take many personality assessments, such as: the Myers-Briggs, or Myers-Briggs personality type indicator (MBTI), or DISC. I’ve also taken some less well-known assessments that I’m certified in: the Hogan Assessments.
So, when I heard about StrengthsFinder it was an occasion to take another one. I took it and read my results, thought it was interesting and accurate. Some of the results were not quite clear to me, but I didn't necessarily disagree with them. And at this point I faced the challenge I think most people face with an assessment: what do I do with this information? Not really knowing what to do with it, I put the results in a file with about a hundred other assessments that I have taken over the years, where it sat for two years.
A couple years later a good friend of mine from college called and mentioned he had taken StrengthsFinder, so I told him I had taken it as well and pulled out my results. For the next three hours we talked through each other's StrengthsFinder results. This conversation helped me begin to understand myself in ways that I couldn't before.
I'll give you an example. One of my top five themes is called Input. I didn't really know what that meant. Of the 34 themes of StrengthsFinder, Input is one that isn't normally talked about in someone’s day to day; we don't usually talk about this quality that people have. My friend said, "Adam, I see this quality in you. I've seen it all these years back in college. I used to be really jealous of your ability to recall information or come up with a quote on the spur of the moment." He confessed to me that what he used to do was try to emulate that quality. He would read quote books and try to remember them. I told him that isn’t really quite how it works, or at least that's not how I developed that quality. But I couldn't really explain how I developed that quality. I never thought about it. I didn't know that that was a unique thing. I didn't know that other people didn't operate with this same quality in the forefront. Moments in the conversation helped me realize that I have an asset that's been valuable to me all these years but didn't know that.
Then that led to learning about my other themes and my other top five themes, and then I began to get curious about these other 29 themes that weren't in my top five. To understand more, I would give StrengthsFinder to friends and family and insist they take it. In some ways it was for selfish reasons; I wanted to learn the 34 themes, but it also helped me know them better too, because it helped me give language to those qualities that I noticed made them unique.
Later I learned that the odds of somebody having the same top five as you are 1 in 278,000. Now, some theme combinations are a little more common. I think the most common is 1 in 11,000, and then some combinations Gallup hasn't seen yet. To date 16 and a half million people have taken StrengthsFinder. So what I really liked about this tool is that it didn't just put me in 1 of 4 categories, or 1 of 16 categories, it really dialed into me as an individual and allowed me to dial into other people very individually as well. I began to learn all 34 themes, because what I would do is associate that theme with that quality of the person that I had personally experienced and that gave me a sense of all 34 themes, and this became a language for me now, almost like an alphabet. And much like the letters of the English alphabet can be combined into an endless combination of words, I began to view someone’s top five themes like a “word” that captures their unique qualities.
I began to really understand this tool’s value and wanted to learn more. So I went online to look up information but there wasn't a lot about StrengthsFinder, which surprised me. I read everything I could find and became a student of this tool and of its creator, Dr. Donald Clifton, to read his philosophies, why he created this tool, and eventually Gallup began to offer an open certification for people in 2013, so I became certified. But by that time I had already developed a set of concepts and tools to help people understand StrengthsFinder. Over the years I've worked with thousands of people to help them go from taking the StrengthsFinder to understanding an applying it to their lives.
Now, I want to circle back to the story about the man being interviewed on the radio that caused me to pull over. Dr. Donald Clifton had just published a book called Soar With Your Strengths, and this was before the StrengthsFinder existed or was released to the public. He had a philosophy that the most successful people play to their strengths and that if we recognize that and cultivate it we can harness a great deal of untapped potential.
On this website, we'll be providing you with resources and tools to make empower your journey to live a strength-based life. That's the goal. My next topic will be: what do you do once you've taken StrengthsFinder?
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.
Never miss a blog post! We don't share emails. Thank you!