How we Empower Strengths Communicators

Brian Schubring first presented this talk at the graduation ceremony for the Strengths Communicators of Singapore American School on January 22, 2015

my story —

So there I was, in Los Angeles, sitting at a small rectangular table in a school classroom all by myself. On the table I had a blank notebook and pens sitting before me, to the right there was a file folder full of fresh notes, atop that was a well worn book I had read and studied multiple times. To my left was a bottle of water and a watch propped up so I could see the time. There I was, nervously awaiting my first ever, 30 minute, 1:1 StrengthsFinder conversation which was minutes away from beginning.

It had only been 2 weeks since I had received my ‘training‘ to prepare me for this moment… this fact did little to ease my nervousness and did nothing to bolster my confidence. My first ‘victim‘ had no idea what they were in for, and neither did I.

So there I was, all by myself, when the classroom door opened. My heart quickened, my palms became damp, and a 17 year old high school student walked in… the journey had begun. All my attention was focused on that student, trying my best to help him better understand who he was, what was unique just to him, and what he could potentially do with his life. I felt an excitement, I felt an urgency, I felt a need to do my best. And although I cannot remember the outcome of the first, 30 minute strengths conversation, what I do remember is this… it changed the course of my life.

Literally, that conversation was one of a few key events that brought me to this point in my life.

That moment, that 30 minute strengths conversation with a 17 year old was 16 years ago, and very little of this story has changed when I am afforded the same opportunity today, to sit down with someone for a 1- to -1 StrengthsFinder Conversation. Yet the greatest difference today, than that first day 16 years ago, is my sense of passion and purpose in this work. My intention with all that I do now, is to share whatever I can with others.

I share this story with you, the Strengths Communicators of Singapore American School, because I know that you too have shared in moments like this – nervousness, doubt, intrigue and questioning – and we each have each overcome. I share this story with you to remind you of this one truth – you are strong enough. You are strong enough for this work; you are strong enough to integrate your learning’s with teams. You are strong enough to shape this organizational culture. Please, please do not underestimate your strength or your potential to become even stronger.

You are strong enough.

concerning today —

This event today is significant not only for you, but for those individuals who sat across that table from you, not knowing themselves or what they were about to experience. We are here today to recognize all that you have sacrificed and accomplished during this year.

This graduation celebration is no forgettable moment. It is an intentional pause in the business of our day, to share in conversation, and reflection, to share a meal together, to remember the work we have accomplished, and to wonder into the lasting impact that our sacrifices have accomplished. Let us remember all that you have done: 50+ hours of education, self directed practicum, ten 1- to- 1 strengths conversations, the collection of all requisite materials, and a self reflection on the entire experience.

We also know that this in not all that we have accomplished. Throughout this process you have encountered personal and professional challenges…

  • Some of you created new opportunities to engage your PLC’s and feedback to your administrators… you took initiative.
  • Some of you have listened to people explain themselves in a new language, excited that they now better understand who they are… and you celebrated with them.
  • Some of you, all of us, have listened to people’s questions, their struggle to accept this process of understanding themselves. You have listened as others have questioned the strengths movement. You have listened as people have questioned administration, and why you wanted to talk with them about their strengths… but you endured.
  • And some of you, most of you, came face to face with a redefining of who you are.

the setup —

There is a reason why many of us do not get too close to a mirror, because we do not want to see ourselves in such close-up detail. But this process of becoming a Strengths Communicator is really about the close up detail. When we accept a challenge such as this one, we do discover a greater, close-up clarity, affirmation, and attention to who we really are. A 1- to -1 strengths conversation affords us the opportunity to get close to people, sometimes we feel too close. And in the process we get close to ourselves, maybe even feeling too close to ourselves. But in it all, we discover for the first time, or are reminded again, of the talents we have to influence other people through a strengthening of who we are.

the turn —

Yes, this Strengths Communicator Training was about helping others understand their top 5 strengths, how their strengths paired together, and how they could have a generative impact on others. Yes that was what this was really about…really?

Was that really all that we had in mind?!? By this point, you now know that this training was more about you as it was about them. This opportunity was about empowerment – empowering you with the skills and experience needed to help others, and empowering others with a greater self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-advocacy.

This was also about empowering you to be more than strong enough. More than strong enough to just share a conversation. More than strong enough to address questions and doubts. More than strong enough to advocate for the importance of people’s strengths. More than strong enough receive ownership in the shaping of this culture that seeks to search for, find, and highlight what is good about people. You are more than strong enough for this. You are now strong enough to…

conclusion —

What is intriguing about this work is that it works! Whether you believe in your skill set or not, each of us bears a skill set that others will receive life from. We know that we have the skills; we know that we have the education; we know that we have the experience to meet with someone and lead them a little further in the journey of understanding. We know we can do this, and we have proven that we can. For this part of the journey, we can certainly be grateful and hopeful.

We are grateful because others have entrusted themselves and their time to help you and in turn learn for themselves. We are grateful that we have been given the opportunity to relate to others in a way that is new, exciting and positive – focusing on what is beautiful and brilliant within all of us. We are grateful that we have been afforded a skill and discipline that can be practiced every day, with all types of people.

We are also hopeful for what is to come. We are hopeful that there is more that we can learn and subsequently give to others. We are hopeful that this work will not stop here but will continue… and this is where you will bear part of this hope-filled responsibility to continue as strengths conversationalists.

We at LVC are hopeful that this is but the beginning of others following you as we all continue to pioneer a new pathway for culture wide deepening of relationships.

We are grateful and hopeful for each of you, and all of this and what is to come as we work together today, and in the days to come.

So, thank you.

To date, Leadership Vision Consulting has led more than 150 through it’s Strengths Communicator training. If you are interested in receiving more information on this opportunity for yourself or your organization, join our newsletteror contact Joseph Dworak for more information.