An Illuminating Experience with Strength

Not long ago, I met someone who is a chef that comes to a person’s home and cooks meals for the week to their specifications and leaves. We meet initially and she interviewed me for an hour to find out what my goals are, what I liked, what I didn’t like. She showed up with bags of groceries and went to work without very little conversation. She left 3 hours later and I was blown away.

Although we didn’t talk much while she was here, I did stop through the kitchen as she worked and watched as we made polite conversation. I sampled one of the dishes that was prepared and watched her work. It was delicious and effortless, not just for me but for her as well.

Whenever I cook a meal, it’s something I have to psych myself up and then, while preparing the meal I need to fully concentrate. I read the instructions many times during the process. I constantly doubt if I’m doing something right or putting in the correct amount or doing things in the proper order....

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Help Me See What You See

strengthsfinder Nov 27, 2018

The purpose of this article is to provide one of the best ways I’ve found to use your talents to improve communication and relationships. It started with six simple words.

I sent an email to Terrie, one of my closest collaborators. I wanted her to evaluate web application that I thought could be useful for our youth program. So, I sent her an email with a link to the website and a note that said “Look this over and let me know what you think.”

Terrie was not convinced the web application would be useful. Instead of giving me her reasons for why she felt that way, she simply said “Help me see what you see.”

This prompted a powerful moment of self awareness about my themes, particularly my #1 theme of Strategic. It took me a few seconds to see how the web application would be useful, but it took me 20 minutes to type out an email to Terrie explaining my reasoning. It was much easier for me to just say “Hey, look this over and tell me what you...

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Helpful Resources

Here are some helpful resources that Gallup has developed to support their CliftonStrengths© (formerly known as the StrengthsFinder ©) assessment. Gallup’s Reports offer a great deal of insight into your themes and can provide assistance when discussing your or your client’s development with each theme. The first two resources can be found after you take the assessment in your personal results page on the Gallup website



Strengths Insight and Action-Planning Guide: This report is approximately 20 pages long. Section I of this report is the same as the Strengths Insight Guide with the addition of two questions for each theme. Section II provides a list of action steps ideas for developing each theme further. This report takes the Insight Guide a little further by offering some stock recommendations for developing each theme. Because of its length, I often forego using this report in workshops; however, many people...

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What About the Skeptics?

strengthsfinder Aug 03, 2018

Not everyone immediately welcomes the insights from the CliftonStrengths©. There are skeptics. I have learned to welcome them because their resistance hones my ability to articulate a compelling message. I’ve written about this in the past too. Here, I offer some excerpts from an article from Gallup’s blog called “Embrace the Skeptics” by Jennifer Robison. In the article we talk about how I address skepticism with clients because there’s always going to be somebody in the room who’s just like, “This assessment can’t tell me who I am. I don’t need this touchy-feely stuff.”

“According to Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach Adam Seaman, skeptics can provide an important service to strengths coaches. “I welcome skeptics,” he says. “I want people to raise questions, and I consider it my job to make the case for why CliftonStrengths is such a valuable and potent tool. If I can get [a skeptic] over the...

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Theme vs. Strength

strengthsfinder Jul 24, 2018

I walked around for two years thinking that my top five themes were my strengths, and then upon re-reading a section in Donald Clifton and Marcus Buckingham’s book, Now Discover Your Strengths, I realized, no: themes don’t provide a name for strengths, themes provide a name for talents. This point is vitally important for our positive growth.

What is the difference between a theme of talent, a strength, and what’s the relationship between the two? Many people often interchangeably use the term strength/themes/talents. This gets confusing for people. They often think my adherence to this point is “word policing” but there is a powerful reason we need to be clear on the difference.

Here is Donald Clifton’s passage from Now, Discover Your Strengths (p. 29) defining the difference between a theme/talent/strength:

“We introduce you to three carefully defined terms:

  • Talents are your naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling or...
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How Talent2Strength Began

strengthsfinder Jul 20, 2018

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,...

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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...

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Precise, Positive and Universal

These are the 3 of the main reasons we love the language of the CliftonStrengths 34 themes.

Precision: Many personality assessments place people into one of four categories (e.g. True Colors). Some put us into 16 (e.g. Myers-Briggs). The CliftonStrengths assessment evaluates people along 34 different “themes of talent.” Most people opt for the version that provides them with their Top 5 themes. The overall odds of two people having the same Top 5 themes are 1 in 278.000. The odds of two people having the same Top 5 in the exact same order are 1 in 36,000,000. This provides greater precision in understanding the nuances of how one person differs from another.

Positivity: The 34 themes articulate, primarily, positive traits that a person possesses. CliftonStrengths is inherently positive in how it views people. The very basis for the instrument is to help people see their most positive qualities and Dr. Clifton’s philosophy is to encourage people to strive for being...

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Your StrengthsFinder Themes Reveal Your Conditions for Happiness

strengthsfinder Mar 30, 2018

Whether we are fully aware of it or not, we all have conditions for happiness—things that contribute to our sense that life is going the way we want it to go. Most of us can name some of our conditions for happiness, but there are also many that lie below the level of our conscious awareness. Even the most self-aware people have conditions of happiness that they aren’t truly aware of. Our themes help surface many of the conditions for our happiness.

Using my Top 5 themes, here are some conditions of happiness for me:

• Strategic: I am happy when I have options and am able to decide which path to take to best reach my goals. I am unhappy when my options are limited by external factors or other people. When I have the freedom to survey the options and find the one that makes most sense to my Strategic theme.

• Individualization: I am happy when I can speak directly to a person and use my Individualization theme to understand their unique situation or qualities....

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