Why We Need to Move Beyond a Strengths “Experience”

Here is one of the most common misunderstandings we encounter with people and StrengthsFinder: learning your strengths and then experiencing a dialogue and discussion around strengths will make a significant difference personally or professionally.

Sadly, statistics do not back this up. Gallup’s research brought this to light when they reported that employee engagement only increased by less than 5% over a twelve year period, from 2000-2012.

The experiencing and experimenting with strengths is not enough to create a lasting and sustainable change in people, teams or organizational culture. As in the picture of the open box of crayons, receiving your strengths results is ‘opening the box’, but it does not provide people with the meaningful and lasting experience they are looking for. Unfortunately, experiencing strengths alone will not tap into the latent potential of people.

People need to do more than this.

As all people have great potential for genius and beauty, all people will face this same challenge – to move to a place where latent potential becomes a reality.

Why is this Important?

Simply knowing what your five strengths are will only provide a passive understanding and awareness of individual potential. Moving beyond experiencing strength to engagement is essential if we want to create a lasting impact with strengths.

Being able to recall what your five strengths are is a beginning – remembering what they each mean is a great second step.

But then What?

Like most things in life that are worth investing in, engaging in strengths usually takes more work than we think. Knowing you have strength is a great beginning. Putting strengths into action and relationship takes something more intentional and more instructional.


Let’s think of a compass as an example of how some people experience strengths. A compass provides you with a direction, and identifies where North is. This function of a compass works well and is reliable – it tells you what direction you are facing, but a compass does not tell you how to get where you want to go.

Whereas, a GPS navigational app will provide you with both the where and the how – the step by step, street by street, turn by turn guidance for every moment of the way.

Most people experience strengths like a compass, yet there is so much more potential when we begin to engage strengths like a GPS navigational app. Engaging strengths in a relational, intentional, and instructional manner will begin to make a lasting difference.

Because engaging strengths, and the various talents and behaviors of those strengths will provide you with the understanding of where your next steps should be, where you need to take the next turn, and how far we need to go.

Now, let’s look at the picture…

The box of crayons is open, they are new crayons, there are more than five, the crayons are unused.

Think of this box of crayons as the potential you have with your strengths, not just your top five, but also with those few that you have a strong resonance with. Many people connect to this idea of additional strengths they may have and use. For the crayons to fulfill their purpose, they need to be taken out of the box and engaged, used to actually color… to put into action, to fulfill what they are meant be.

StrengthsFinder top 5 themes are meant to be put into relationship and action, to help people discover and meet their full potential and promise.

So Why Not?

Why not take our strengths out of the box and begin to put them into action?

Why not experiment and see how they work together and how strengths can add color, structure and dimension to our lives, and how they can bring life not only to us but also to others.