Is it Informational or Transformational?

by Joe Devine, WeAlign Associate Coach

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.

THE TRANSFORMATION

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.

Want to be transformed? Go to WeAligncoaching.com and get connected with a WeAlign coach.

Become More Self-Aware and Authentic

Become More Self-Aware and Authentic

by Brice Long, WeAlign Associate Coach

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 brice@bluefinsol.com

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.

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!

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)

Screen Shot 2019-06-26 at 3.05.08 PM

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

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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