Editors Note: this is a guest post from fellow Strengths Professional, Julie Anderson.
Language is defined as a system of communication used by a particular community or country. There are currently 7,000 languages spoken on the planet, and every 14 days another will cease to exist. There are many reasons for this decline, but it boils down to this: people stop using that language.
I’ve been using the StrengthsFinder language for years. It’s changed my worldview, made me more curious and less judgmental and allowed introspection and self-reflection. It has dramatically improved my life and the lives of those around me. I have shared this language professionally with thousands, from nuns to neurologists. I see people every day transformed by what they’re realizing about themselves, and about each other.
After nearly every workshop, despite full-days of impactful education, conversations and self-understanding, I’m asked the following question:
Now that I’ve taken StrengthsFinder, what do I do with it?
As mind-blowing as this language can be, as spot-on as the discussions are, we’re all left wondering how we can translate what we’ve just learned into actionable, life-changing behaviors that will maximize productivity and happiness.
Here are four ways to become fluent in the language of StrengthsFinder:
1. Invest 5 Minutes a Day in Understanding your Themes of Strength
After you receive your StrengthsFinder themes, you’ll be tempted to glance through the results to see if they fit. Far from being a horoscope, the StrengthsFinder language describes not what you do but how you do it. To fully realize the potential in these words, you need to keep them top-of-mind. Consider a few of these quick and easy ways to make that happen:
- Use Post-It notes listing your top talent themes and place everywhere.
- Develop an acronym for your top themes.
- Familiarize yourself with the descriptions in your report one at a time.
- Do you like to write? Explore your themes and how they resonate with you this way.
- Ask around – over 16 million people have taken the StrengthsFinder assessment, you might just know a few.
- Pick a theme-of-the-day first thing in the morning and reflect on how you used it at the end of the day.
- Imagine the themes of your favorite characters in TV dramas, on the bus, at the office, etc.
2. Look for Moments of “Flow”
I’ve never been a proponent of the work-life balance debate; a myopic focus on one aspect of our lives makes little sense. Viewing our lives as a whole. There is wisdom to be found wherever we’re engaged.
For example, I love to spend hours teaching one of my boys how to make risotto. He’s shown an interest in cooking and nurturing this interest completely lights me up. I have come to understand that this is my Developer Strength in action. I find myself explaining every small step toward making the perfect dish in ways he will uniquely understand; I’m teaching, inspiring and encouraging him. When we’re finished, he has created a beautiful, delicious dish he can be proud of. I may have had a small hand at the outset, but I’ve helped him realize something he’s good at, and now he can make the dish himself. Few things give me more joy.
What do you love to do so much that you’d do it for free and be energized by the experience? Look closely, it’s probably something you do without thinking. This can be a clue to the areas, professions, or hobbies where your Strengths will most likely come alive.
3. Share StrengthsFinder with a Family Member or Friend
Strengths cannot grow in isolation. Like any language it needs interaction and mutual understanding to thrive. In other words, use it or lose it! The language of Strengths has the potential to make a powerful impact in your marriage or committed relationship.
My husband and I are now able to see the positive in each other, whereas before we were often frustrated. For example, my Activator husband is now a man who simply acts quickly, he’s not someone out to mess with my need to consider every aspect of a proposed plan. My need for deep thinking is not intended to slow him down, I’m simply processing things the way I’m wired to through my theme of Intellection. We understand these things about each other now, and while we still might be frustrated on occasion we now have positive words for what is happening. Game changer.
4. Share StrengthsFinder with your Team at Work
Do you work for a school, a law firm, a non-profit, or a bank? Perfect. StrengthsFinder language allows everyone to see themselves in a positive light, encourages self-understanding, and is the necessary first step toward engagement.
If you’ve discovered the power of StrengthsFinder personally, sharing this language professionally is the natural next step. People are drawn to those that are living their Strengths, and your passion is the very best thing to share. Seek out a few minutes with a manager or supervisor and describe what you’ve experienced. Does your group have team building opportunities? StrengthsFinder provides an interactive, engaging and sustainable way to pull out the best of everyone you work with.
Live your Strengths
Engaging in this positive, empowering language makes a difference in your personal and professional life and in the world. When you’re leaning into your Strengths not only are you more productive and happy, but you’re serving the world in your own unique way. By following the steps above, you’ll begin to encourage and grow a language that has the potential to improve your life and the lives of everyone you engage with.
Simply taking the StrengthsFinder assessment, while a necessary first step, is only the beginning. Understanding the language is fundamental; where it goes from there can only come from you. With so many languages disappearing from our planet, doing our part to encourage one that promotes positive self-understanding for every global citizen deserves our encouragement.