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 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 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.