Making Sense of a Shift in Strengths

I recently retook the StrengthsFinder assessment for the first time in several years and for the third time in the last 12. For years, my Top Five Themes of Strength have been Empathy, Achiever, Activator, Strategic, and Developer, all of which I have been very at home with. When I received my results of Relator, Strategic, Achiever, Positivity, and Activator I’ll be honest, I had a temporary “Strengths Identity Crisis.” Where had Empathy gone? What did it mean for me to have Relator?

Just as I have encouraged so many before, I committed to some personal reflection and with time this shift began to make more sense.

What I Have Learned about My New Strengths

Here is what I discovered about my two new Strengths:

Relator

I have become more discerning in my relationships with age. After my Father’s passing in 2013 and my illness three years ago, many people in my life stepped up to support my family and I. There were also some people in my life who did not; some of whom surprised me. This experience, along with increasing demands on my time as a working mother, caused me to be more thoughtful about where I commit myself and reaffirms my commitment to nurturing the relationships most meaningful to my life.

I also see this shift reflected in the evolution of my professional responsibilities, most recently in my transition to Director of Client Relations with Leadership Vision. It is my goal that every one of our clients feels known and cared for and that we are not seeking to be transactional in any aspect of our partnership. These are distinct Talents of a Relator.

Positivity

When I returned to “normal life” following my illness, I remember remarking how infinitely more beautiful the world seemed, life’s burdens felt less weighty and worrisome, and my commitment to live a purpose driven life felt renewed. As I have moved further away from that time, those commitments have been tested, but they are a series of lessons I will never forget. For me, especially now, the glass is always half-full; there is always a silver-lining and a lesson to be gained from even the most difficult of circumstances. Again, distinct Positivity Talents.

Have your Strengths have shifted?

Why did I ultimately choose to retake the assessment? I had an inkling that there was a shift in my Strengths. It was like an itch I couldn’t scratch. I found it increasingly difficult to convey my Strengths authentically to our clients and so I took the time to try and make sense of this disparity.

I asked myself the questions I encourage our clients to ask themselves when they have experienced a shift in Strengths:

  • What has changed in your life in the last few years?
  • What is demanded of you at work and at home that was not before?
  • What duties and responsibilities have you been released of over the last few months, years?
  • Have there been any significant life events that have reshaped you in ways that you did not anticipate or imagine?

Ultimately, I found that I could answer “yes” to all of the above questions. I’ll be honest; I was afraid to retake the assessment. What if I discovered that I had Strengths that I identified with less? What truths would I have to face about myself?

Retaking the StrengthsFinder Assessment

As a Strengths Professional, I am well-versed in the Talents and behaviors of each of the 34 Themes of Strength, so when it didn’t feel right, I knew why. Even then, I did not rush to retake the assessment. I allowed myself time to discern all of the influences for a potential shift, I discussed it with my trusted Leadership Vision colleagues, and I studied the Talents of the Strengths I believed I was leveraging.

Should we rush out to retake StrengthsFinder each time we suspect we are leveraging a new set of Talents? It depends. The greatest benefit you have is to know and understand your Talents. If you’re constantly trying to retake the assessment to see “what else” you may have, it may not be helpful. This will likely be the last time I take the assessment for a very long time. I will now shift my attention to further developing these Talents, new and old.

Embracing the Shift

I am happy to share that I have landed in a place of acceptance and embrace of my new “Top Five” Strengths. I believe these are the Talents that are demanded of me today and also those that I will need to leverage as I move forward. Armed with this information, I feel empowered and inspired. I know better who I am today and how I can serve at work, at home, and in my community.

What life experiences have impacted the Talents you have utilized over time? What is your process for staying in touch with the Strengths you’re operating out of and leveraging on a regular basis?