Do you create New Year’s Resolutions? The idea of starting something new with a new year is appealing, and that’s why so many people do this.
Did you know that a majority of New Year’s Resolutions (NYR) fail before the end of January? And a majority of the ones that survived through January fail before the end of March.
Or do you do a “Word for the Year”? Which when you think about it, is just a very light-weight form of a resolution — it’s a resolution to “focus” on that word, but with no structure, no milestones, and no accountability. That’s a way to make sure your resolution doesn’t fail — define it so loosely that by definition it’s not going to fail.
People debate if Einstein actually said this or not, I am not sure but do know it’s a powerful sentence:
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Maybe there’s a better way. How about doing something different?
Think about how you’ve created NYR in the past — how much time, effort, and energy did you put into the creation?
Here’s my observation: Most NYR fail because they are not tied emotionally to a big enough WHY.
Another word for resolution is goal. Many of you have heard of the phrase “create SMART goals”. I love SMART goals. However, I have created my own version of them, which are the words:
You can see how I laid them out in the attached graphic. The “A” – Aspiring is at the “top of the mountain” visually because I believe that a goal is much more achievable when it is connected to something bigger and more important in your life.
Here are links to further posts where I explain what each of these words mean in relation to S.M.A.R.T. goals and give some practical examples of how you might see them show up in your life:
As a WeAlign coach it is my mission to “re-humanize the world through genuine identify and belonging.” This is a rather tall order- for each individual to fully know themselves and at the same time be willing to accept others as they know themselves to be. As John Maxwell said, “Everything worthwhile is uphill.” So, let’s get on our bikes and climb together.
One of the 34 talent themes from the CliftonStrengths® assessment is Empathy. People with a high Empathy talent theme can intuitively sense the emotions of others and have the ability to form deep personal understandings and relationships. Recognizing there is a universal human need to be valued, masked or otherwise, it is critical to shift our mindset from ME to WE. Dr. Maya Angelou explained empathy in her powerful words, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
To begin re-humanizing the world we need to better understand others’ needs, emotions and motivations. Our hill has a bit of an incline, doesn’t it? Let’s keep pedaling!
As I enter into my senior years- hey, 60 is the new 40 and I can prove it– I’m struck by my changed understanding of the word ‘legacy.’ Most think of legacy as something we leave behind, such as valuables in a will, money or a family business. I thought this way for many years, but now, not so much. Sorry, kids.
Legacy is more about what we leave IN someone, at the moment, not what we left behind for them. To use Dr. Angelou’s words as an example, your legacy is how you made someone feel and the impact that had on that person’s life. Are you a parent? What do you leave IN your children? Are you a business owner or manager? What do you leave IN your employees after you interact with them? Are you a teacher? Your legacy goes far beyond the knowledge you impart to your students.
My past understanding of ‘legacy’ was held in a closed mindset. Now, I have a growth mindset towards ‘legacy,’ what I leave IN others. The hill just became very steep. Can we reach the top together?
Re-humanizing the world can be a complicated process unless we find a common platform of understanding to work from. That platform is a self-knowledge of our individual talents and strengths, and the CliftonStrengths® assessment will provide it. While there are 34 talent themes, ranked in order of greatest potential growth, we only need our Top 5 talent themes to discover who we are at our most genuine self. Our Top 5 talent themes are those areas of talent where we have the greatest opportunity to grow in what we do best; to focus on what we are good at, and create a language for others to know us, respect us and love us.
Conversely, when we also know the Top 5 talent themes of those around us we are grounded in understanding, growth and relationship. Empathy becomes a strength because we better understand ourselves and those around us. Legacy become a verb, something we do for others and leave IN them. We now have a shared language.
To re-humanize the world is a tall order, certainly. But knowing your strengths, and the strengths of those around you will provide a wonderful opportunity to re-humanize your corner of the world. Imagine the possibilities if we all do that.
We just reached the crest of the hill. Unfortunately, there is no downhill. We reached a plateau, so keep pedaling. There is good work to be done!
Michael Baker, head coach at Michael Baker Coaching, holds a Masters in Education, is a Certified WeAlign Coach and a Certified Strengths Champion. His mission is to ‘re-humanize the world through genuine identity and belonging.’ He can be reached at email@example.com.
Know You Strengths • Act With Purpose • Live In Abundance
I had been coaching for about a year and wanted to reach clients who were tired of doing the same thing over and over. I decided to check out a coach marketing program and was on the phone with a recruiter.
I was in the middle of the interview when the recruiter asked me, “Is what you do informational or transformational?” Until that question, I thought the interview was going well. I was taken aback and had to admit, “I don’t know.” The recruiter ended the conversation by saying, “Keep doing what you are doing and get back to me in a year.”
What do I do? I am a Strength and Leadership Coach who joined the WeAlign Coaching tribe in March 2020 and am using their unique process to help clients understand their CliftonStrength’s assessment. But is that all I do?
Not sure what to do next, I phoned a friend. Bill Mason, who had made me aware of WeAlign and whose story was instrumental in my decision to join the tribe. Bill asked me, “What’s your story? You are on a journey that others can relate to. Tell it.”
TOP 5 TO FULL 34
Well, my story started in 2013 while I was a church volunteer leader. The pastor asked all leaders to take the StrengthFinder2.0 assessment and share with the group what our Top 5 Strengths were. I discovered mine were: Developer, Responsibility, Learner, Input, and Relator. I shared them, but for some reason, the pastor never talked to the leadership team about their strengths. I didn’t look at the report and filed it away.
Then, in 2017 I discovered the book Strength in Marriage. My bride Laura and I are always looking for ways to invest in our marriage. We both took the assessment (now CliftonStrengths) and got the full 34 results. The book had us look at our top ten and bottom five strengths and look for similarities and differences. But we didn’t do anything else, because when we looked at the assessment we were overwhelmed with the information. So, we ended up filing the report.
I AM COACHED
Two years later, I met Bill Mason during a vacation in Washington DC. He told me he was a Strength and Leadership Coach with WeAlign Coaching and uses a specialized process to bring understanding to the CliftonStrength assessment which shows you the power of living in your strengths.
I signed up! Being coached through the WeAlign Strength Alignment Process helped me understand who I was, what I can be good at, and who I am not. With that awareness, I realized the job I had been doing for 30 years did not offer me opportunities to use my strengths. Not being able to use my strengths had left me empty and unfulfilled.
Suddenly, I understood how I was able to see others’ potential and was energized when I was able to help them grow in their personal or professional lives! That was why I loved encouraging others even when I saw small incremental growth! My #1 strength is Developer. That is who I am. That is what I do.
I recently retired after 30 years of public service as a 911 Call Taker. I now say, “I Develop Leaders. I Develop you.” I didn’t know that until I was coached the WeAlign way.
Now I know. The CliftonStrength assessment alone is just information. The CliftonStrength assessment along with Coaching the WeAlign way is transformation.
What is your memory of a porch? From a rocking chair, to a bench, to the stairs, those who have rested themselves on a porch understand its power. Stories shared, lesson learned, quiet moments with the sun’s warmth on your face, the porch offers a space for soul searching and contemplation. Blanche’s porch was nothing special, milk jugs filled with plant food, potted flowers, old things piled here and there in the corners, and plenty of spots to sit. Its view was of the forest green with trees. Yet it offered safety, serenity, and sometimes forgotten lessons.
Blanche was a woman who lived over 104 years and had life experiences like no other. She loved her porch and always shared an invitation to join her. Blanche had an incredible talent of seeing people for who they were and who they would become, quite an innate sense, in fact. I sat many an hour together with her as she shared stories of the past with rich lessons and flare. I remember most of them, however, as I grew into an adult, I forgot some of her most important words. She spoke such truth about who I was, and where I could go.
Unfortunately, many lies were spoken over me and Blanche’s truth was lost, dimmed from my mind and heart. I went through my youth captive under those lies. I broke free physically at 17 years old when I ran away, but it took until I was almost 30 to break free emotionally. Even then, there was much work ahead.
Why are stories, lies, other’s insecurities that are spoken over us as we develop our sense of self, so powerful, while truths slip away? Well I don’t know about you, but I’ve been given a bit of a feisty spirit, and have fought my way back. Fought my way to understanding my value, my wiring, how I was created, based on truths! Conquering the lies and owning truth is a great place to begin. Knowing your value is an important posture to present in this world and there is a world full of resources to get you there.
There are so many wonderful tools out there to lean into your own development. One of my favorites, Clifton Strengths, gives you a viable vocabulary to launch confidently into personal and professional choices and pathways. Sadly, many take the assessment, see their top five, and never look at them again. Never unpacking them fully, discovering the rich roots to unleash themselves.
Do you know your wiring, have you ever questioned the value you bring to this world? You’re not alone. Let me ask, do you have the courage to challenge the lies, the stories spoken over you filled with someone else’s pain? I’d like to invite you onto my porch. Choose the rocker, swing, or stair, get comfortable and let’s lean into uncovering the truth of who you were designed to be. How can you start?
CREATE SPACE Calendar and physical space – Create a space in your schedule to develop your self-awareness. There are tools to help you develop the ideal week. Choose your spot, the porch, comfy chair, the library, wherever you can concentrate on learning about you. Choose a spot that fits your personality, it will bring out the creativity and emphasize the wiring you possess naturally. When you have a designated time and space you have a higher percentage of follow through.
CHOOSE AN ASSESSMENT THAT WORKS FOR YOU Assessments – Clifton Strengths, DISC, Enneagram, Myers Briggs, and more. Each offer great insight through varying ways. Choose to investigate up to three formats, then select the one that is most usable in your life. Ask yourself? Can I use the terms in an everyday conversation? Can I acquire a basic and deep understand of myself through the information provided? How do I connect with this type of format? Speaking aloud your wiring feeds your brain information to develop new positive pathways. So, make sure you choose a format. You want one that can feed your brain, so you develop a strong posture and live in the freedom of the confidence you’ll develop.
FREE YOURSELF Freedom – Become your own warrior! Fight to discover the truth of who you are, separating from other’s stories that have been spoken over you. Free yourself from what holds you back by gaining self-awareness that can bring you forward. Make it a priority to know you.
Enjoy your time on the porch to dive into self-awareness to discover a pathway to unleash your strength and purpose upon this beautiful world.
While research has shown that 95% of people claim to be self-aware; only 10-15% of those people actually fit the criteria.This same study also suggests that when we see ourselves clearly, we:
make better decisions
build stronger relationships
communicate more effectively
are more effective leaders
and the list goes on…
If Aristotle is correct, and “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”, then how do we become more self-aware and live an authentic life?
I believe the place to start is by learning to identify and accept our natural talents and abilities.As Donald Clifton said, “What would happen if we studied what was right with people versus what’s wrong with people?”
The personality profiles such as DISC, Myers-Briggs, and Enneagram, can provide you some valuable insight, but they force you into certain groups or categories based on your responses. The CliftonStrengths assessment measures your talents – your natural patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving – and forms your unique talent DNA with 34 different themes.
As a Christian, I firmly believe we are God’s unique creations. There are many verses in the Bible that support that, and the science backs it up as well. Consider the following statistics of you finding someone else who has the same talent DNA as you:
1 in 275,000 – Top five talents regardless of order
That’s 2.5 times the capacity of Michigan Stadium, the largest stadium in the US.
1 in 33.4 million – Top five talents in the same order
That is more than the population of the 18 largest US cities combined.
1 in 447 trillion – Top 10 talents in order
Unfortunately, the prevailing mindset in today’s culture is to identify a perceived weakness and work on it until it becomes a strength.Instead, we should be focusing on our strengths and working to make them stronger.
The philosophy of CliftonStrengths is that:
You don’t have to become a different person to be successful
You don’t have to be all things to all people
You can’t be anything you want to be, but you CAN be more of who you are…and a better version of who you are
To do this, we need to understand what a talent is; identify it as a signature, auxiliary, or non-pattern talent; and, finally, what to do with the talent and how they interact with other talents.
Signature talents provide us the greatest chance to succeed, represent us at our natural best, and give us energy when we are using them.
Auxiliary talents are things we can do well, and can be developed to an extent, but are energy neutral.
Non-pattern talents, or weaknesses, are energy drainers, and often result in frustration or burn out.
A talent is the foundation of a strength, which is defined as the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance in a specific task.
Signature and auxiliary talents can be developed into strengths by applying skill, knowledge, and experience to them over time.A non-pattern talent can never be developed into a strength, no matter how much time and effort you put into it, but you can take steps to minimize the impact a weakness has on your daily life.
We can begin to live authentically by starting with:
accepting who we are and how we were created
continuing to learn more about ourselves and how other see us
and finally, accurately representing our true nature and beliefs
“The real tragedy in life is not that each of us doesn’t have enough strengths. It’s that we fail to use the ones we have.” – Donald Clifton and Marcus Buckingham
Brice Long is an entrepreneur, management & technology consultant, CliftonStrengths & leadership coach who has a passion for helping leaders solve complex problems so that they can lead authentic and impactful lives. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many companies today choose brand ambassadors rather than sales reps to promote their products. A brand ambassador is a person chosen by a company to represent their products in a positive manner, and by doing so will build brand awareness. For example, Mike Trout, a highly popular professional baseball player might be seen regularly with a Boombatz Backpack. You can bet that every 12 year old kid who loves baseball and is a Mike Trout fan wants, no needs, a Boombatz Back Pack like Mike Trout’s. (Boombatz is a fictitious company, so don’t bother looking it up. But you get the point.)
This is certainly a cost effective way to market your products, and it works. In fact, I took the accompanying selfie photo and posted it on Instagram (@heartwarrior_mhb). I received two offers to be a brand ambassador for contemporary men’s clothing. They probably should see the whole face!
Seriously though, your brand is personal, and I highly recommend creating your own brand- a Leadership Brand. Creating a Leadership Brand tells people who you are and why. It shares your talents and lets others know what they can expect from you. A Leadership Brand is your statement to the world. I have a client who uses his Leadership Brand statement as a bio introduction on his LinkedIn profile. This is just one of the many ways your Leadership Brand will help you grow and develop.
The steps to creating a Leadership Brand statement are simple. First, take the CliftonStrength® assessment at www.gallup.com/strengths/assessment. You need at minimum your Top 5 CliftonStrengths®results. However, the CliftonStrengths® 34 will give you your full profile of talents and strengths and provide you with a compass for where to put the effort in your life.
In either report your Top 5 talent themes are areas where you shine, where you have the greatest potential for growth and where you feel most comfortable when applying yourself to relationships, work or hobbies. They are your natural God-given talents.
Next, study each of the Top 5 talents in your report and come up with three words or phrases that describe you in that talent theme. Lastly, use those words or phrases to create a brief description of who you are. Remember, your talent themes are not labels. They are descriptors of something much deeper in you.
When working through this exercise be patient with yourself. It may take several sittings to get a Leadership Brand statement that is satisfactory to you. Share your work with people who are close to you and get honest feedback. It took me several months and several attempts to create mine Here is my Leadership Brand statement and my Top 5 talent themes I used to create my brand:
Understanding that every individual is unique,I seek excellence for myself and others. Asking ‘what if?’ to new knowledge I facilitate order from chaos to create opportunities and reach expected outcomes. – Michael Baker, aka Coach Bake
My Top 5 Talent Themes are: Maximizer • Strategic • Learner • Arranger • Empathy
Enjoy creating your personal Leadership Brand statement. When it is complete, print it out and put it somewhere you will see it regularly.
Michael Baker, head coach at Michael Baker Coaching, holds a Masters in Education, is a Certified WeAlign Coach and a Certified Strengths Champion. His mission is to lead individuals and businesses to find Certainty in an Uncertain world. He can be reached at email@example.com.
My values and beliefs aligned with the mission, I was coaching and loving my clients, and I enjoyed the people I worked with. But, my health was declining, I was becoming increasingly more frustrated and fatigued, and my desire to do anything at work plummeted to an all time low. So what was the problem?
I wrestled with the decision to leave for over a year and a half, asking God daily if I was just being selfish in my desire to leave or if it was the wise decision to make. I ultimately decided to part ways with the job, but I still had lingering feelings of guilt nagging me daily.
It wasn’t until I went through WeAlign’s 5-hour Strengths Alignment Process that I realized why I had been miserable – none of my intrinsic needs were being met.
When I discovered this during a coaching session, the guilt melted away and I could finally move on. I only wish I had heard about WeAlign’s 5-hour Strengths Alignment Process earlier; it would have saved me a lot of worry, frustration, and heartache.
My coach helped me get unstuck and move on. Here are five others ways a coach can help you.
1. Overcome Barriers & Setbacks Quickly
A coach will partner with you to help separate your person (or identity) from the setback or problem at hand by offering objective feedback. Being able to see your problem or circumstance from an objective point of view will give you greater understanding and free up more options to reset and move forward. Ultimately giving you the opportunity to overcome your setbacks quicker than if you tried to sort it out alone.
2. Create New Pathways of Possibility
One of my favorites, coaching jolts your mind out of autopilot and provides new and exciting pathways of thought. A professional coach has access to a multitude of creative tools & models to help expand your awareness of self, others, and the world. Innovation, ideas, and possibilities become endless when you have the right coach on your side.
3. Gain Greater Clarity & Purpose
A professional coach has been trained to ask the right question at the right time to help evoke deeper understanding, create new pathways of thought, and they invite you to become a part of your own story. Sometimes the answers are staring us right in the face, but we’re too close to see what’s in front of us. A coach will help you take a step back and see your life, problem, or situation from a whole new perspective. You’ll be able to see the whole picture and decide what needs to go and what needs to stay.
4. Unleash Your Potential: Known & Unknown
Great coaches will hold a space for you to experiment with who you are becoming in the world without judgement, and help draw out your gifts and talents. When you know who you are, what you do well, and what you don’t do well, you can start to choose the life you were meant to live. You’ll find you’ll go from average to extraordinary because you’re working in your giftedness and this dramatically accelerates your results and forward momentum.
5. Build Your Legacy
Our lives are so chaotic most days we never allow ourselves time to reflect and contemplate our lives in meaningful ways. What’s the importance behind what you’re doing? What’s the legacy you want to leave future generations? Your children? The world? A professional coach pays attention to what’s said and unsaid, providing meaningful space and offering objective observations to help you grasp the deeper meaning in your life.
Coaches are invested in you, 100%. It’s your agenda, your timing, and your life. So, if you’re feeling stuck, directionless, overwhelmed, burned out or just want to find deeper meaning in your life, there is a coach waiting to help.
I thought it was about time I showed up and shared my thoughts on some things I’ve been thinking about as I’ve been coaching people and watching the world respond to a pandemic…
These are undeniably difficult times. We are mourning and adapting because of things and people lost, and it’s going to be hard for a while. However, that’s not the whole story, and I’m here to say that it is possible for grief and joy to share the same room. We are hearing about the good, kind, loving things people are doing for each other too, and I want to challenge you to not only join in with that, but to take it one step further.
What if you were completely clear on what you are skilled in, capable of and passionate about? Are those things related to the role you had or the way you viewed yourself before the world turned upside down or have they also changed? Last week, did you give much thought to the things that had been important to you in January? Were you still focused on the environment, homelessness, refugees, equality, helping small businesses or with local community needs or whatever else was on your heart? Don’t let these things go! People are still living without water or food or shelter. People still need advocates. And what are we going to do for all the people for whom home isn’t a safe place? For the carers without respite? For the people who can’t understand what’s going on due to disability or ill health?
A big pause button was pushed on life as we knew it and we will have to navigate a few new ‘normals,’ still, but what if we lifted our heads up from the internal fear and anxiety and let ourselves dream a bit about the future again? Because you do still have a future. The world is changing but it’s not ending.
So what are you going to be filling your calendar with going forwards? What will you prioritize, speak out about, work towards? What if we end up with a society that fully cares for and embraces the poor and the marginalized? What if we had enough food and shelter for people worldwide? It sounds outrageous to say, but I’m excited to see what happens. I don’t want to belittle or be insensitive to anything that we are going through. I’m not expecting an easy ride or to come out of this unscathed, but I am expecting us to unite on the important things, to run after the type of community we always wished ours was, and to fuel a better, re – evaluated way of living that benefits everyone. We are in this together.
There’s going to be pain and anguish, but that’s only half the story. Seek out the other bit. Don’t be blinkered to it because it’s easier to be consumed by the bad news. Acknowledge the bad stuff. Notice what you feel and what you need but then tell someone that and go on to notice or find something good. Change the narrative that everything good has been taken from you and start telling people what you are grateful for, what you are dreaming for and pass the message on that we are all capable of bringing something useful and encouraging to the table.
What is it that you are uniquely placed to do at this time? Pin point it, research it, make wise decisions about it (including following government guidelines and advice!) but then just get on and do it! Don’t be afraid to try and keep some things normal – that’s good! Don’t be afraid to spark action into some things that have been lying dormant in you for a while – maybe they have been waiting there for such a time as this! Don’t be afraid to dream of a big big future where progress has been made in many things. And don’t be afraid of grief and joy being roomies for a while. They can cope with that, and so can you.
Now let’s say you’ve done the hard work of dismantling these negative thoughts patterns. What now? A good next step is to start articulating the things you’re the best at. I’m not talking about the things you WISH you were the best at or feel like you SHOULD be the best at. I mean the things in your life that you do instinctively well.
Getting clear about who you are and who you are not, is hard work. That’s why I recommend using the CliftonStrengths Assessment as a way to help my clients understand and communicate the unique strengths that they have. This also gives them a way to focus their hard work in a way the plays to their strengths and sets them up for success.
If you want to make a meaningful impact on the people around you, the place you work, the city you live in, or the entire world, then you owe it to yourself to discover your areas of strength and let go of trying to turn weakness into strength. Exponential growth is a byproduct of living and working in your sweet spot.
If you haven’t been coached through your CliftonStrengths Assessment, I want to share a simple tool that will help you recognize if you’re working in an area of strength. It’s called the 4 Es, and they are: Energizing, Enjoyable, Easy, Effective.
When you’re using your strengths (even if you can’t fully articulate them), you’ll feel energized. It’ll be enjoyable. Even if you’re working hard, there will still be a sense of ease in using your strengths. Finally, you’ll be effective in what you’re doing. This isn’t to say that once you know your strengths you won’t have any more learning to do or that life will always be easy.
The major takeaway here is that applying hard work to areas where all four Es are present will set you up for exponential growth. You’d never be able to gain and maintain that growth if you focused on areas that are energy draining, unenjoyable, overly difficult, and that you lack effectiveness in.
Take a moment to think honestly about where you devote most of your time. Are the 4 Es present? If not, what needs to change? It could be that you’re in a role that doesn’t fit you. Or maybe the entire industry is a bad fit. It could be, that you’re in the right industry but the wrong department. Whatever your situation is, this simple tool could help you honestly assess your situation and determine if anything needs to change.
If you’re overwhelmed and not sure where to start, working with a professional coach could be the best investment you make in yourself. You never know what kind of contribution you could be making if you properly align yourself with your strengths.