Two posts ago I addressed the scientific reliability of the CliftonStrengths assessment and concluded that it is in fact very reliable. From a scientific perspective, you can accept your results as accurate. Still, many people remain skeptical because they just don’t “feel” the results are correct. I typically run into these four primary reasons for this: Ignorance, Opportunity, Culture, Your other talents.
Last week I addressed the topic of ignorance and this week I will address Opportunity.
Opportunity can be closely tied to ignorance in that if we don’t know we have something, we are less likely to pursue it and use it. In last week’s example, farmer Yates did not even have the opportunity to use his vast wealth because he didn’t have access to it, though it was his. Similarly, if you don’t know you have a talent, you are much less likely to pursue opportunities to use that talent.
There are 34 talent themes identified by Dr. Clifton. Once you identify them by taking the assessment you can begin to look for opportunities to use them more directly. That said, we are all using our talents all the time. We aren’t always aware that we are doing so and not all situations are well suited for your talents. If you have Significance® in your top 5 and you are working in a job that is not tied to making an important contribution to the lives of others you may struggle to find satisfaction and motivation in your job. To remedy this, look for a leader who is good at communicating the mission and vision of the organization and your role in the org.
A great way to begin to put your talents to use and grow them is to seek out volunteer opportunities. There are so many places in search of volunteers; youth organizations, churches, schools, 501c3 organizations, hospitals, even sports venues, museums, and art venues.
I volunteered at the Super Bowl® when it was in Indianapolis. I had a blast meeting and helping people from out of town and helping to contribute “Hoosier Hospitality” to the thousands of visitors who came to the city. It was an opportunity for me to put my top-ranked talent themes of Strategic® and Communication® to work. (Which, when combined can look like Command®, a handy talent when trying to direct traffic!) Not only did I also get to attend the Super Bowl® at no charge, other volunteer opportunities have allowed me to use those talents and attend live performances, formal movie premiers, and award ceremonies, and spend time with my kids at youth events. Those experiences also fed my Input® talent as I learned all sorts of interesting, if not sometimes useless information!
Here is an exercise you can do to become more aware of opportunities to use your talents. I call this the “Livin’ and Dyin’” exercise. Divide a sheet of paper in half. On the top of one half write “Livin’,” and at the top of the other half write “Dyin’.”
Over the course of a week, make note of any time you are doing something and think to yourself, “I LOVE this! I could do this all day, every day!” In the “Livin’” column make note of what you are doing and specifically what aspects are bringing you joy. Also make note of those times when you are doing something and you think, “This is KILLING me! If I have to do this for one more minute I will die!” Write that down in the “Dyin’” column. What is going on? Be specific and be curious about why your talents aren’t showing up. What talents aren’t getting used in that activity? At the end of the week, you will have a good idea about activities that allow your talents to shine, and activities that don’t. Now, look for other ways or opportunities that are similar and allow you to use those talents more.
Remember, you are responsible for your own growth. The more you invest in your top CliftonStrengths the more growth, fun, and success you will experience. In case you missed it in a previous post, here is the formula for turning a talent into a strength.
Talent + Knowledge + Use + Time = Strength
Let me know what activities you discover you love doing and how they relate to your talents!
Next week, we will address community/culture and the connection to skepticism.
“CliftonStrengths” and the 34 CliftonStrengths theme names are registered trademarks of Gallup, Inc. The graphic elements copyright © CoreClarity, Inc.