The Greatest Enemy of Decision Making – Inertia!

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By Bill Mason, WeAlign Certified Coach

Have you ever wanted to move to a new stage of life, a new career, get into shape, lose a few pounds, have a better relationship with a friend, spouse, or loved one? What is holding you back? I believe our greatest enemy is: Inertia!

This inertia comes in many forms: the status quo, almost good enough, I will wait till the perfect timing, I am not smart enough, I am not talented enough, if only. These are all excuses and lies that we all believe and tell ourselves daily. What if we could overcome this inertia and move forward with our decisions with one simple new one-/hour monthly thing we do?

Sounds too good to be true?  It could be, but I have found that having an Executive Coach has been a key to overcoming this problem in my life. Here are some examples of how my coach has helped me in practical ways.

In many decisions I let fear keep me from moving. An acronym for fear that I like is FEAR: False, Evidence, Appearing, Real. When I become anxious or fearful, my mind starts to race 100 miles an hour, and I struggle to shut it off. It runs towards the cliffs that are imaginary in my mind! At least 90 percent of the fears that I have never come to pass. So most of that emotional energy is wasted on nothing! Fear also kills my desire for fulfillment. We have a bias that causes us to fear loss more than we want fulfillment. If I focus on fear, I will not reach fulfillment in my life. My coach has helped me by allowing me to voice these fears, hit them head-on, and replace my fears with my long term desires. My goals become my compass and true north for my brain’s activities, allowing my mind a positive fuel to move me forward, rather than the negative fears that keep me afraid and overwhelmed by the negative outcome possibilities.

Another truth I have come to realize is that living reactively does not meet our deepest needs. As we go about our daily lives, we rush from one thing to another and look back after yet another week and think, “Have I really accomplished anything this week?!” This can lead a deep-seated dissonance between what I am doing, what I value, and what I want out of life long term.

As I process these feelings with my coach, simple questions, without judgement, have been very helpful. Questions like: What makes this worth pursuing? What is causing you to feel stuck? How does this align with who you are, and who you want to be? If you look back in 20 years, what advice would you give yourself? Who are you becoming through this decision? These questions help me to process why I feel this dissonance and how to say “No” to the urgent activities that pop up every day.” This allows me margin to say “Yes” to what I value most, health, fitness, relationships, and other deep-seated life-bringing values.

Sometimes I get stuck because I try to make a decision through one frame of reference or decision-making strategy. Since I cannot find a path using this strategy, I stay immobilized by it. Having another person asking me questions from another strategy has been of great value to me as well. A few examples of strategies that we use are:

  1. Rationale: “What are the pros and cons of pursuing each option?”
  2. Relational: “How will this course of action affect those around me? Family, Co-workers, friends?
  3. Alignment: “How well does this decision align with my passions, values, calling?
  4. Spiritual: “What decision would best align with my faith? What is God saying to me on this?
  5. Cost: “What would it cost you in terms of time and resources to do this? What would it cost me if I do NOT do this? What cost is there to me if I do nothing and make no choice?
  6. Risk/Reward: “What is the payoff for each opportunity? What is the opportunity cost of each? What is the risk? What steps could minimize the risk involved?

In many decisions, we face fears, both known and unknown. To overcome this inertia we feel (which causes us to avoid people, places, decisions, or actions) hiring a coach that you can trust and act as a sounding board is one of the greatest investments in your life you can make!  Hire a coach today!

For more articles like this check out my online profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bill-mason-81015811/, www.wealigncoaching.com, www.billmasoncoaching.com, If you would like to try coaching, contact me and mention this article to receive one free 30 minute coaching session.   Email bill@wealigncoaching.com, cell 850-855-3430,

Comfort: Your One-Way Ticket to a Life Half-Lived

By Jonathan Woolridge, WeAlign Certified Coach

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Image by tookapic from Pixabay

Who doesn’t love being comfortable? Hopping on the couch and turning on Netflix, is probably one of my favorite things to do. The pursuit of living comfortable lives drives most of our career and family decisions and we all can benefit from relaxation. But comfort, or at least making comfort and being comfortable our chief aim, can be detrimental. Like a slow-acting poison, if left unchecked, it can cripple your ability to pursue your passions and get in the way of good decision-making.

I live in Colorado and our weather can be very unpredictable. A few weeks back, as I was driving home from work, a cold front was moving in and brought with it freezing rain. I really didn’t want to turn the heat up on the defroster because I was bundled up and preferred that it didn’t feel like I was driving a sauna on wheels. Instead I chose to keep my windshield wipers working feverishly. After a few minutes, my windshield was becoming more and more obscured and I had to say goodbye to being comfortable so I wouldn’t die in a fiery car crash.

This perfectly normal, everyday experience actually led me to a somewhat profound conclusion; making the right decision often requires accepting some level of discomfort. While I was fixated on being comfortable, the only solution that made sense was the ineffective use of my wiper-blades. No matter how fast they moved, they couldn’t keep the ice at bay, and for a few moments, I felt like there wasn’t another solution.

While the idea of being comfortable sat on the throne of my decision making, I was temporarily paralyzed. This realization happened in a split second, but it made me think, “What other areas of my life had I abdicated control to the allure of living comfortably?” As I kept driving, a little warmer than I wanted to be but finally with a perfectly clear windshield, I started thinking about the territories in my life that comfort was threatening to overcome. I quickly realized that over-prioritizing comfort was negatively impacting some of my parenting, professional development, hobbies, chores, and relationships.

Whether we admit it or not, comfort keeps us on the couch when we could be running. Comfort keeps us scrolling through our phones when we could have been reading. Now I’m not saying that being comfortable is wrong (all things in moderation right?), but I am saying that if you only ever make decisions with comfort as your chief aim, then you’ll probably experience life at half (or a lot less) of what it could be. The problem is when we spend too much time protecting our comfort.

Making lasting change in your life will be uncomfortable. In fact, all good things in life come with challenges. The dream job you finally landed will have its fair share of frustrations. Your soulmate won’t always understand you. The beauty and joy of a newborn child will also bring sleep deprivation and poopy diapers. The best things in life require effort and so will making positive change.

I would venture to guess that most of us (if not all of us) have areas in our lives that we want to change or improve. And since you’re human, I bet comfort gets the better of you from time to time. Comfort gets the better of me more than I care to admit (does this count as admitting it?). But if you recognize the issue, you can start to change your response.

So, if you aren’t satisfied with some area of your life, or you’re not reaching your goals, I want you to ask yourself a couple of questions. First, “Am I unsatisfied with ______ because I’m prioritizing comfort over taking action? If the answer is yes, then ask, “What realistic step can I take today that will move me in the right direction?”. You might find that you couldn’t imagine a different way of approaching the problem all because you were too focused on being comfortable. Making progress and good decisions will bring with it discomfort, but it’s through discomfort that exponential growth occurs!

When The Magic Happens

By Dale Young, WeAlign Executive Coach

“When people start operating in their Strengths instead of overcompensating for their weaknesses, that’s when the magic happens.” – SAM Morrison

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n17DAL9vLI&feature=youtu.be
Click here to watch

At the beginning of 2019, SAM owned her own business as a publisher of a local neighborhood magazine, which she loved. However, she was feeling exhausted, overworked and underpaid. She knew that God had something different for her but was not sure what that was. She wanted a company where she could have significance in other people’s lives, but she also wanted to work from home and help others do the same.

Things took a big turn for her after she went through the WeAlign Strengths Alignment Package with Coach Dale.  The powerful insights she got motivated her to take action to better align her work with her strengths.

  • She shut down her work with the magazine
  • She created a new company “Your Admin Ninja” to do Virtual Administration
  • Your Admin Ninja opened for business on April 1st, 2019
  • One month later SAM was fully booked
  • The company has continued to grow
  • As of February, 2019, she is employing seven (7) other Ninja’s part-time

SAM says that she learned several things while getting coached through her strengths:

  • About who she truly is and what she is naturally good at.
  • She had been trying to fit in a box based on other people’s expectations of her.
  • While she thought she was good at some things, they really didn’t come natural.
  • By focusing on what she is naturally good at, she can be exponentially better at what she does.

SAM explains that impact of the coaching process in this short video: https://youtu.be/4n17DAL9vLI

And here’s SAM Morrison’s website  YourAdminNinja.com

How about you?  Is your work aligned with your strengths?  WeAlign coaching can help.

Practical Insight to Keep Pursuing Your Passions

By Jonathan Woolridge, WeAlign Certified Coach

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Photo by Michael Descharles on Unsplash

Have you ever had an “aha” moment? When, for a split second, you had perfect clarity and you knew what direction your life should take. Like a spark landing in dry grass, your passion seemed to roar into existence, and you knew that your life would never be the same because of­­_________. With your heart racing, head filling with ideas, and a completely new outlook, you set out on a journey to pursue this new passion. But as days, weeks, months, or years crept by, the excitement of that initial spark faded, and the fire went out.

If you look back and wonder why, you’ll probably find a number of reasons. You might have relied solely on the initial spark to keep you going. Maybe you made such drastic changes in pursuit of your passion that you overwhelmed yourself and gave up. Maybe you believed a lie that you’d never be able to get where you want to be and so you never truly took steps towards it. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t have to be this way.

If we treated pursuing our passions like keeping a campfire lit, we’d have a much higher chance of succeeding. Keeping a campfire going is simple but requires effort and a little discernment. You have to continuously collect wood and you have to know how much you can add without smothering it. You can’t expect a fire to burn forever if you aren’t intentionally feeding it and you also can’t expect it to stay lit if you feed it too much. Now I know this sounds obvious, and it is, but so many people either don’t feed their passions or they smother them. Keeping the fire burning is probably one of the most important aspects of achieving goals and I believe this analogy gives a great picture as to what it takes to keep pursuing your passions. Here’s some practical wisdom that’s helped me.

1: Just because the fire exists, doesn’t mean it will stay lit on its own

You’ve got to keep your fire burning. So often people set out on the journey of becoming better and expect the emotions of that initial spark turned inferno to carry us the rest of our lives, when in reality, our passions and dreams are fragile and need to be fed if we want to be successful in our pursuits. No matter what your goal is, you’ve got to build in repeatable habits that will keep you on track.

If you’re an aspiring bodybuilder and you’re only going to the gym on days that you feel motivated, chances are you’re going to have a hard time making significant gains. If you’re setting out to write a book and expect to be taken by a wave of inspiration every time you sit down if front of your computer, then chances are you’ll spend the rest of your life working on the same book.

On the day his Jersey was retired, Kobe Bryant, in his speech, said this to his daughters, “those times when you don’t feel like working, you’re too tired, you don’t want to push yourself but you do it anyway: that is the actual dream. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. And if you guys can understand that, then what you’ll see happen is that you won’t accomplish your dreams. Your dreams won’t come true. Something greater will.”

Keeping the fire lit everyday takes grit. It takes determination. But most of us focus our motivation in trying to replicate the initial spark rather than just adding another log to the fire. When you apply grit and determination to building life giving habits, your goals can be bigger than you ever imagined.

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2: Keeping the fire lit is simple but will take effort

You’ve got to gather the wood and feed the fire if you’re going to keep it lit. It really is that simple, but it will require continuous effort. My coach, Kim Avery, once told me, “all success rises and falls on the level of our habits.” This is where we have to put in the work, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as we tend to make it. In a previous blog post, I mentioned taking small attainable steps towards your goals. If you know where you want to be in life, then think about what habits you need to form or which bad habits you need to dismantle, that will get you closer to your goal.

For me, I wanted to read more books. My reading list seemed to be growing longer and longer and I was barely making any progress. In 2020, I decided to start reading 45 minutes a day no matter what. I knew this was realistic for me and it’s already paying off. In the first 9 days of January I had finished my first book and I ended the month having read 3! In 2019, I read 7.

I’ve also noticed an interesting shift in perspective. Whereas before, the thought of reading and how long my reading list was felt overwhelming, now I find it exciting to get those 45 minutes in each day. It’s also led to me looking for opportunities throughout the day when I could be reading. I even had a moment the other day when the kids were in bed and I normally would have just grabbed my phone, but thought to myself, “I want to read!” I know it probably sounds funny, but this was a huge moment for me. Now I’m probably reading on average 1-1.5 hours a day. I’m thrilled to think about how many books I’m going to get through this year!

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Whatever change you want to make in life will take effort, but there are simple ways to establish good habits that can be scaled up as they become ingrained in your everyday life. A two-hour gym routine might start out as 30 minutes a day in your basement with dumbbells. Writing a book, might start out with the habit of writing one page a day. Meaningful change rarely happens fast and often starts small. Don’t despise small beginnings! It doesn’t have to be monumental. It doesn’t have to be groundbreaking. All it has to do is keep the fire burning so that on the days when you don’t feel like it, there you are doing it anyway.

How will you feed your fire today?

Two Questions to Help Gauge Your Emotional Maturity

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By John Saunders, WeAlign Associate Coach

One of the most important things a leader can do is build trust in his or her leadership and among the group.  A significant and often undervalued factor in building that trust is the leader’s emotional maturity. Often, leaders expect others to trust them based on their position, their track record and experience, or the brilliance of their strategies.  Yet emotional maturity, and in particular the leader’s behavior in difficult situations, has more impact on the trust level of the group than any other factor. People want to know: Are we in this together?

A key test of emotional maturity is behavior under stress.  When things are going well, it’s much easier to be patient, supportive, respectful, and encouraging.  When there is a significant problem or the volume of work reaches a certain threshold, it’s much more difficult. 

Here are two questions to ask yourself, and others you trust and who will be honest with you, about your emotional maturity, and especially how you react under stress.  They’re not yes or no questions, but more of a never/rarely/sometimes/usually/always scale. Certainly, you want to be working towards both qualities as the day-to-day norm.  As the depth and strength of your emotional maturity grows, you will be able to continue to manifest them under increasingly difficult circumstances.

How well do I remain relational?

To “remain relational” means to continue to focus on the relationships with people rather than just task execution.  Do I still care about and am I willing to listen to what others think and feel? Do I just want to make the problem, person, or feeling go away?  Do I duck for cover, and try to make sure I can look good even if things go badly? Do I go into the “I’m going to fix this” mode, where I interrogate, judge, feel very certain that I’m right or at least smarter than everyone else, and try to pressure people to do things my way?

There are gross deviations from remaining relational, like screaming at people and openly playing the “blame and shame” game.  It’s also possible that you can lose your ability to remain relational and still remain (at least on the surface) fairly professional and polished.  Even in the latter case, people will sense that it’s about the problem, not about really working together and respecting one another, and will feel like they can’t trust you fully.

How well do I act like my best self, in line with my values and the group’s values?

My identity is linked  to my values and the values of my group and is expressed in my behavior.   Again, there are gross violations of values like illegal behavior or intentional deceit  Few will follow you if those things are exposed. At the same time, most people expect a higher standard than strict legality and factual correctness.  If say that I value things like fairness, respect, and transparency, is that what I consistently display, or do I make decisions that are expedient but not in line with those values?

Most people don’t expect perfection.  They realize that life is complex, and that there will be times when you slip from your standards.  However, they also expect a level of consistency, and your humility to acknowledge and apologize when you’ve slipped in your behavior, and for you to show improvement over time.  

Emotional maturity may seem subtle, but with trust being one of the major assets of your organization, it’s worth the investment.

Note:  These two questions are based on the first two habits from the book, Rare Leadership: 4 Uncommon Habits For Increasing Trust, Joy, and Engagement in the People You Lead by Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder

Let’s Face It, You’re Stuck

aubrey-rose-odom-T1L9Q5g7eIQ-unsplashby Jonathan Woolridge, WeAlign Certified Coach

Have You Ditched Your New Year’s Resolutions Yet? I didn’t make any, but I am making bite-sized changes that will compound over time. If you’re tired of beating your head against the wall every winter as you rely solely on will power to make positive change in your life, then I’d encourage you to keep reading!

The other day I was standing by the copier, scanning a bunch of documents, and I heard a buzzing noise. After a second of looking around, I noticed that a fly had gotten stuck in the blinds. I decided to free this fly from it’s impending doom, but immediately after it was free, the fly took a hard-right turn into another set of blinds. In that moment, I thought about all the times I set out to make meaningful change in my life only to lose steam and divert back to familiar struggles. Since it’s that time of year, I decided to focus on the fact that New Year’s resolutions don’t work, but bite-sized, “you know you’ll do it”, changes produce extraordinary results over time.

I know some of you might be thinking of the rare individual who actually sticks to their resolutions, but the majority of human beings struggle every year to make significant improvements to their lives. You know what I’m talking about. For some of you, 2019 might have felt like a rinse and repeat cycle of getting stuck, then getting unstuck, only to get stuck again. This could be for a number of valid reasons, but at the end of the day, stuck is just stuck.

Whether your decisions led you to this predicament or circumstances out of your control trapped you there, you can decide how to respond. Whether you wallow in self-pity or stand up and take the next right step is completely up to you. This could look like forming good habits or dismantling bad ones. It might be a simple change in perspective. The point is to TAKE THE NEXT RIGHT STEP. President Harry S. Truman once said, “Imperfect action beats perfect inaction every time”. Making lasting change in your life begins by taking imperfect action regularly over long periods of time. Don’t let perfectionism or impatience keep you from moving forward.

If you want to exercise more in 2020, don’t start by going to the gym 2 hours a day, 6 days a week. If you want to read more books in 2020, don’t expect yourself to be able to read 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. If you want to succeed in making a change, start with bite-sized steps. Even if you have to break it down to reading 5 minutes a day, that’s better than setting yourself up for disappointment on February 1st when you look back and realize you successfully completed 4 days of your new resolution before taking a hard right turn back into old habits.

Taking small consistent steps is not a small achievement! Working out for 15 minutes a day consistently, when you normally don’t work out at all, isn’t a waste of time! 2020 will be wasted if a year from now, you look back and realize that you haven’t made any progress at all. 2020 will be wasted if you keep being all or nothing. 2020 will be wasted if keep believing the self-imposed lies that you can’t do it when in reality you set yourself up for failure on January 1st.

What if I told you that this year, you could break the cycle? What if I told you that many of the answers to escaping your dilemma are floating in your head right now? What if I told you that 2020 could be a year of break-through? All it will take is consistent imperfect action, one day at a time. If you’ve already ditched your resolutions, you’re in good company. Start taking small, attainable steps today, so you can look back on a years-worth of progress on January 13th, 2021.

What imperfect bite-sized action are you committed to taking consistently in 2020? Take it one day at a time and you’ll be surprised what you can achieve!

The Power of Knowing My Limitations

man-2037255_1920The Power of Knowing My Limitations

by Jonathan Woolridge, WeAlign Certified Coach

“Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

Have you ever had a moment when you felt completely inadequate? For me it had to do with songwriting. I’m a musician and I’ve been playing guitar and singing for 16 years. Even though I’ve written some songs along the way, the process has felt like trying to climb a tree with fins.

Several years ago, I took part in a Facebook songwriting challenge. We were supposed to write and record 1 song a month for 6 months. This seemed like a low bar, so I decided to give it a shot. After a month and a half of songwriting at an agonizingly slow pace, I finally had a mostly finished draft and a recording. We were required to post our songs to the Facebook group, so I did.

After posting my first song, I saw that a high school student that I had mentored from church was also in the challenge and had already posted his first 2 songs. As I listened to his first one, I felt a pit form in my stomach, my heart rate went up, and I felt jealousy rising in me. And then I was angry. I turned his song off after 30 seconds because I couldn’t take how good it was. Here was another musician, 10+ years my junior, with more natural writing ability in his pinky, than I had in my entire body. I felt so small. I felt small, because I was basing my identity on an area of weakness and not strength.

These kinds of realizations happen for people all the time in every industry. I’m sure you’ve experienced something like this and probably have someone in mind who picked up a skill or job task so quickly it seemed like they had been doing it their whole life. When I heard this student’s music, it showed me, in bright neon letters, that my natural talents didn’t lie in songwriting.

To cheer me up, some people might say, “That’s alright, if it’s your dream keep at it! If you work hard enough, you can be as good as Bono or Paul McCartney! After all, they had to start somewhere didn’t they?” While this is an encouraging sentiment, there is an unintended lie at its center. The lie is this, “Anyone can do anything. All it takes is hard work.” It might be insulting that I would be bold enough to call that a lie, but please hear me out. Donald Clifton, the father of strengths psychology and creator of the CliftonStrengths Assessment, said in his book Soar With Your Strengths, “To theorize that ‘anyone can do anything’ assumes that all people are clones, possessing an identical set of talents. This, of course, is false. We are each one of a kind, with a unique set of strengths.” You see, if each of us is truly unique, then some of us must have a propensity for certain things over others.

Now I’m not saying we should never focus on areas of weakness, but if that’s the ONLY areas we focus on, then we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. Even worse, focusing solely on improving our limitations may cause us to never discover the natural talents within us. We all have genius in one area or another, but the problem is that most people focus on what they think they should be good at rather than the areas that they could be best at. If we try to force our way to excellence, chances are, we will arrive at mediocrity. When we know who we are and can unleash our strengths exponential growth will occur!

What natural talent have you been ignoring in your life? What areas of weakness have you tried to turn into strength? As 2019 comes to a close and we look forward to new things in 2020, I challenge you to let yourself off the hook! I challenge you to discover your natural talents and hone them! I challenge you to step into the recognition that who you are isn’t mediocre. You are a genius and exponential growth is waiting for you if you focus on your strengths!

Align with Your Design

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Q: At WeAlign, you talk about being my authentic self, but I’ve been so programmed by other people’s expectations that I no longer know who I really am.  How can I recover the real me?

A: That’s a great question, and you’re not alone.  I’ve been going through this journey to “re-humanize” myself as well.  Here are five helpful sources that I’ve discovered along the way.

1) ASK THOSE WHO KNOW YOU

Ask close family members, coworkers, and friends to honestly tell you what your strengths and weaknesses are. They can point out your good and bad blind spots, and be a great “mirror” for you. Note: pay special attention if more than one person points out the same thing.

2) ASK YOUR HISTORY

Take some time to reflect on the accomplishments in your life and note the times you felt successful, fully alive, or in your “zone.”  It’s a big help if you write these down. For each scenario, ask yourself:

  • What was the setting?

  • What skills and talents did you use?

  • What roles did you serve?

Do you see patterns of traits that show up multiple times?  Those are aspects of your core design shining through. When you align with your design, you get the best results.

3) ASK SCIENCE

We live in a time where the science of personality development is exploding. It’s worth your time and expense to take an assessment or two to better understand how you’re wired.

I’ve seen huge results as I’ve coached clients through the WeAlign Strengths Alignment Package. I also like gifttest.org, and DISC, and I know people who prefer MBTI, the Enneagram, Colors, and many others. The key is to know what the assessment is attempting to measure as well as its limitations.

4) ASK A PROFESSIONAL

A qualified coach is trained to help you get clarity on your life purpose and calling.  As an objective sounding board, your coach can often accelerate the process and get you results much faster than going it on your own.

5) ASK YOUR CREATOR

Last, but certainly not least, if you want to know your design it makes sense to consult The Designer.

You may have heard it said that your talents are God’s gift to you, but what you do with them is your gift to God.  So it’s logical that God is biased toward helping you understand your design so that you can make a difference in the world. Ask for guidance and understanding in your prayers, and try some spiritual journaling. Ephesians 2:10

SUMMARY

Each of these factors contribute a part of the whole – the bigger picture of your unique design. Be intentional in your discovery, but remember it’s a process that never completely ends, so be patient with yourself.

Do you need help sorting things out? Let’s have a no-obligation call and see if we can move you forward.

CliftonStrengths® Changed My Life

By Debbie Fawcett, CCPC
(note: this post first appeared in the Spring 2019 edition of Christian Coaching Magazine)

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I have taken many different types of assessments throughout the years but taking the CliftonStrengths® assessment has really changed my life! That may sound over dramatic but let me highlight a few ways this has helped me grow personally and professionally.

What is the CliftonStrengths® Assessment?

Gallup CliftonStrengths®, formerly known as Clifton Strengthsfinder®, is a powerful tool that I would recommend for any person, especially coaches. It looks at 34 specific strengths and ranks them in a list that is unique to the individual. The strengths are grouped into four categories or “Theme Domains”: 1) Executing 2) Influencing 3) Relationship Building and 4) Strategic Thinking. Many people only learn their top five strengths, but there is so much more value when you do the complete assessment and get all 34 strengths.

When I took the assessment, I learned that I had seven of the nine relationship themes in my signature strengths. This means that I lead with my relationship building themes. This was a game changer for me as I saw how all the pieces of my life started to fit together. Have you ever wondered why certain tasks drain your energy? You were probably not working in your strengths. I’ve never had an assessment resonate so deeply.

Personal Growth and Awareness

Another area that changed for me was in my relationships. My husband took the assessment and we discovered that his top strengths were at the bottom of my list and my top strengths were at the bottom of his list. We were complete opposites of each other! I always knew that but now we have a common language to work through those differences. We can also celebrate how God has uniquely designed each one of us. There’s power in a family unit taking the assessment together.

When taking assessments, it is important to figure out how to use the information you gain to impact your everyday life. If it doesn’t help you in the long run, then it’s just a test. That’s one reason that coaching after taking the assessment is so valuable.

Using CliftonStrengths® in Coaching

For me, learning about my strengths has opened doors for me to grow in so many ways. I have become more confident in who God made me to be. My number one strength is Leaner so learning will always be a major part of my life. But Learner combined with my Developer prompts me to do everything I can to help develop my client’s potential. Every coaching session becomes an opportunity to learn and be curious about my client.

Another insight that has come out of knowing my strengths is the language that I use when coaching. Empathy is very high for me so before I might say something like, “How do you feel about….?”. Now I am more intentional with my words because my client that is high in Analytical would be better served by using “thinking” words and phrases, not “feeling”. Keeping the client’s language and natural bent in mind makes a big difference.

Working with Others Who Value Strengths

I joined a new strengths-based coaching company called WeAlign Coaching so I could be part of a tribe of like-minded coaches that value the unique strengths and talents in each individual and organization (see http://www.wealigncoaching.com for more information). They have great tools and resources to help individuals and teams to dig deeper into their strengths. One of the questions we try to ask in our coaching process is, “How have you been affirmed in this strength?” Sometimes certain strengths have not been affirmed. For example, a woman who is strong in Command may feel that Command doesn’t fit in her work environment. That individual needs to learn how to use her Command and not tone it down. She’s a natural leader.

Strengths in the Workplace

I’ve seen how this tool can help in business too. If an employee has strong Deliberative, as an example, they will need time to think before a decision is made. Rushing an employee with Deliberative may cause stress. But after the decision has been made, the leaders can trust that the issue has been well thought through. WeAlign Coaching has a system to help teams work better together. Businesses that have gone through the process as a team have reported that employees are happier and more productive when they are working in their strengths.

If you have the opportunity, I would highly encourage you to take the CliftonStrengths® assessment but also to get coaching on what these strengths mean for you and how you can use this information. The Gallup website is a wealth of information and also where you can take the assessment (see http://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com).

For those who are curious, here are my signature strengths: 1) Learner 2) Empathy 3) Intellection 4) Developer 5) Input 6) Includer 7) Connectedness 8) Relator 9) Adaptability 10) Belief 11) Positivity and 12) Responsibility.

What would it do for you if you discovered your strengths? What if taking this assessment changed your life too? The test is available for anyone to take. Why wait?

Debbie Fawcett, CCPC is a WeAlign Associate Coach

How Comparison Steals Your Joy

By Pete Cafarchio, ACC.

compare mirrorPhoto by Fares Hamouche on Unsplash

I was reflecting about how I tend to despise my natural limitations instead of accepting them, and this graphic representation came to mind.  I hope you can gain some personal insights from it.

How it works

When I accurately see myself the way I am, with a realistic view of my strengths and limitations, I can have self-respect and a healthy appreciation for myself.

The problem comes when I get fixated on a fantasy version of who I think I should be.  In that version, my strengths are exaggerated, and my weaknesses are ignored or hidden.  It’s unrealistic, but I’m more attracted to that version.  And then when I see my Real Self in comparison to my Fantasy Self, I wind up disliking myself because I don’t measure up.  The result is deep-seated unhappiness with my core identity.

Entire industries spend multiple billions of dollars each year to convince you that you don’t yet measure up to the Fantasy Self.  They don’t mind damaging your self-esteem just so you’ll buy their products to improve yourself.  Pretty sick, huh?

Social media makes it even worse by broadcasting images that only show our best moments and hide our real struggles.

And if you’re a high-achiever, you might be naturally prone to setting unrealistic expectations for yourself and others.

What can you do?

One plan of attack is to identify the sources that contribute to your Fantasy Self.  A short list might include: entertainment, advertisements, past messages from your family of origin, condescending friends, certain corporate cultures, and your social media feed.

Ask yourself if these influencers are making you feel better or worse about your Real Self, and then manage or eliminate them. It’s not easy because we’re barraged every day, but a few key choices can make a big difference.

The second approach is to get a good understanding of who you really are – self-awareness.  Do the work using the Strengths Alignment, a coach, and feedback from friends and coworkers to get an accurate view of your strengths and limitations.  And then learn to love and accept yourself for who you are.

What’s interesting is that the better you know your Real Self, the easier it becomes to see (and reject) your Fantasy Self.

I’ve heard it said that when currency experts are trained to identify counterfeit money, they don’t study the infinite ways the money can be imitated. Instead, they study the unique characteristics (paper type, colors, inks, images, etc.) of legitimate currency. Then if they see that one aspect is altered, they know the bill in question isn’t authentic.

The same principle applies here.  Get to know the real, legitimate you, and it becomes easier to spot the voices trying to make you into a phony.

How about you? What’s one comparison you can eliminate to increase your joy level?

Pete Cafarchio, ACC, is a WeAlign Executive Coach and partner.  

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