My Journey with CliftonStrengths®

shoes-1245920_1920Knowing My Strengths Wasn’t Enough

I first took the Clifton StrengthsFinder® assessment, now called CliftonStrengths® in 2011. At the time I was empty. I was at the end of a multiyear project that took everything out of me. A friend, mentor, and personal coach suggested that I take a sabbatical in order to rest, renew, and reimagine what the next phase of life would look like. As I prepared for the sabbatical, he also suggested I take the StrengthsFinder.

I purchased the book Discover Your Strengths: StrengthsFinder 2.0 and used the code that came with it to find out my top 5 strengths.  I was surprised at the results. They were me! As far as I could tell they were spot on. They suggested action steps were encouraging, inspiring, and invigorating.

I would love to say that I implemented every step, and developed action plans in line with my new awareness. Nope. Instead, I returned from my sabbatical and immediately buried myself in work. Within months, I had forgotten the talent themes that described me. I didn’t forget everything, but since I didn’t know what to do with this newfound knowledge, the assessment ended up in a file that is likely still buried in my desk. My conclusion: knowing your strengths is not enough! You have to do something with that knowledge.

I had forgotten the talent themes that described me and the report ended up in a file buried in my desk.

Experience Greater Clarity

Later on, I surfaced the long-buried assessment, but I didn’t realize that the Top 5 assessment was just the introduction.  So, I ordered the Full 34 report from the Gallup website, and then hired a WeAlign coach to walk me through a full Strengths Alignment.

The result has been greater clarity.  Now I have a much better sense of my unique design and how my talents are deeply woven into who I am.

After taking the CliftonStrengths® assessment and getting coached through the Strengths Alignment process with a WeAlign coach, I decided to become a WeAlign Coach myself – it was that transformative for me!

5 Benefits of a Strengths Alignment

  1. When your life is aligned with your strengths, you have greater clarity.
  2. You have a better idea of your purpose, calling, and how to spend your time.
  3. You have a new language for describing the power you bring to your life and work.
  4. You can better discern how to go about your life and work using your strengths.
  5. You even have greater energy and passion! Strengths are a foundation that you can build on.

If you haven’t yet experienced a Strengths Alignment or would like to know more about our services, contact us.

THE POWER OF AFFIRMATION

Affirmation…so powerful yet so underestimated.

I remember the day when my daughter made a dramatic change, all because of three short words. We were living in France, and she was going to the Maternelle (kindergarten).   At a parent-teacher meeting, the teacher smiled as she exclaimed, “Elle est vite!” (she is fast). Our daughter heard and immediately embraced this affirmation. For the next two years she ran everywhere as fast as she could! “I am fast. I am fast. I am fast…just watch me!” as those words of truth propelled each step forward.

My daughter didn’t realize that her teacher was affirming her mental agility (quickly learning the French language and culture), not her physical prowess. Yet, a compliment put wings on her shoes.

Affirmation turned on a switch in my daughter, just like how Clark Kent taking off his glasses and ripping open his shirt reveals the “S”—his true identity as Superman. We all have “Super” within us, but it usually takes something external to draw it out of us. Many times we may have a hunch or a feeling that something is true about us, but it’s confirmed and brought alive when others call it out. It’s the power of affirmation!

Affirming someone is simply calling out a truth of their authentic design. It’s truly who they are at their core identity. “I appreciate that you have enduring, rock-solid values” or “I love how you always love to learn” are great examples of calling out an identity truth in someone. Complimenting others is a great start too, but slightly different. A compliment is a positive statement referring to a task done or trait possessed. “Thank you for cleaning up the dishes tonight” or “that shirt looks great on you”. They both trigger the production of oxytocin, the “happy” hormone in our brains which results in smiles and warmth.

Here’s a little experiment for you this week: It’ll be easy, simple, and free. Do you want to dramatically change a relationship or your work environment? Start affirming others, and often. Find those characteristics in others that you can call out and affirm in them.  If that seems too difficult to start with, then begin with a smile and a compliment. But flattery is different, and doesn’t count. Flattery is actually focused on elevating the speaker, not the receiver. It highlights a situational non-truth about the other. For example, “I loved your keynote speech” (but you weren’t there and didn’t hear it) or “I’m grateful for your leadership” (but secretly you neither respect nor trust the leader). Affirmation and compliments are a gift to the receiver, because it can produce change in the person’s self-esteem.

Affirmation will put an “S” on your chest…because we all have Super within!  Let WeAlign help you discover your greatness- your true authentic design.

(By the way, we affirm a lot)!

-Dave

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

WHO ARE YOU?…I REALLY WANNA KNOW…

Who are you?… 

This is a huge universal question, and made, also,  for some pretty good lyrics by Peter Townshend of The Who. I clearly remember the day when my 10 year old brain first encountered this great query. My teacher, Miss Franklin, wrote three simple words on the blackboard that began a four decade journey for me:

Who Am I?

These three words linked together make it one of the most challenging, complex, even intimidating questions of all time. It forces us to go beyond the surface and plunge into the depth of our soul. It leads us to our identity.

Many of us, unfortunately, don’t like who we are, but worse, many of us don’t even have a clue of who we are. We are beaten down by an unforgiving world which is inhabited by people who tend to exploit weaknesses and criticize strengths. As a result, many of us have become zombie-like—half dead, half alive, aimlessly wandering around, looking to devour another’s flesh…and identity. OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but you know where I am going.   

The good news is that we can become fully alive again. We can find our design, fit, purpose…and flourish. In future blogs, we’ll look at three factors to help us find or rediscover our identity (not unlike a paleontologist gently brushing the dirt off of buried bones. Together we’ll gently brush off fabrications in order to reveal the talents and traits that are true):

  • Affirmation leads to our identity
  • Rest clarifies our identity
  • Joy and appreciation creates our identity

So let’s get into our special chair and relax & dream and just “be”. With WeAlign (aligning design with destiny), your wonderful journey is about to begin!

Dave Mead

StrengthsFinder Executive Life Coach

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