I’m an Assistant Varsity Volleyball coach at a high school in the Twin Cities. Recently, our players received their StrengthsFinder results, and we spent a morning learning about our Strengths
To be honest, I wasn’t sure how effective this would be. Since these players are 14 to 18 years old and still discovering who they are, will StrengthsFinder be accurate and helpful to them? Also, would the two and a half hours we had to debrief the results be enough time for them to apply their results on and off the volleyball court?
These were only a few questions I had racing through my mind as I stood facing 21 half asleep high school players at 8:00 am. However, it didn’t take long for those doubts to turn into awe.
Was Strengths Helpful for This Age Group?
Throughout our time together I saw light bulbs go off in players’ heads over and over as they suddenly understood something new about themselves or someone else. Through the platform of Strengths, an atmosphere was created where 21 high school young women were able to see and appreciate one another as unique and fascinating. They were able to understand why their teammates thought they way they did and validate each other as people. It was a beautiful sight to see.
One player said,
I can see my Strength of Competition being generative to our team because I want to win. But, I can see my Strength of Empathy being de-generative to our team because I feel bad for the other team if they’re losing by a lot.
The whole team burst into laughter! Who would have thought our most intimidating player had this dilemma when she went back to serve? She didn’t want to serve to the other team’s worst player because she felt bad for them. Her Strengths of Competition and Empathy collided on the volleyball court. Lucky for us, her Competition wins that battle time and time again.
Was This Enough Time to Process?
What I came to realize was that it didn’t really matter if they could define every word used to describe their Strengths, they just needed to understand the gist of it. They didn’t even need to understand all of their Strengths, if they only understood three or four of the five, I considered that a win! Even if they couldn’t speak the language of Strengths fluently, that didn’t mean they couldn’t benefit from taking the assessment and spending time learning about each others Strengths.
After this engagement, I now see tremendous value in young adults, even as young a 14 taking this assessment. Through our short time together, they may not fully understand each of their Strengths, but it was a great place to start. We fully believe that Strengths proficiency is a lifelong journey, starting at a young age brings self awareness and appreciation of people’s differences – skills that are often learned later in life, but have immense value.
My Personal Takeaways from the Day
At Leadership Vision two of our core values is we are relational and intentional. Our hope is after an engagement participants leave understanding that each person has a unique perspective on life. This was my hope for the volleyball team that day. I wanted them to understand their friends as teammates and peers. As a coach, I wanted to understand my athletes better.
I finally understood why one of our hitters could never move past a bad hit (Responsibility), or why our perkiest player continued to smile even when she made a mistake (Positivity), or how our Setter could see the court in such a unique way (Arranger).
One of my Top 5 Strengths is Individualization. When I first became a coach the first thing I did was think about what kind of coach I wanted to be. I wanted to really know my athletes and treat them uniquely and equally. Strengths was a platform that helped me do this.
I listened as one after another these young players gave voice to how they think and function in a way that their peers could understand. I think back to my high school days and wonder what I would have done differently if I had had the same experience.
- Would I have recognized that I asked an excessive amount of questions because my Discipline was trying to create structure?
- Would I have recognized where my pairing of Achiever and Focus was being de-generative because I completely blocked out my Individualization?
- Would I have embraced my Individualization more, being okay with the fact that I wanted to be fully known, instead of thinking I was sharing too much?
I’m excited to see how this new knowledge plays out during our season, and to get to know these players on an even deeper level.
What About You?
Do you have any young adults in your life that you think would benefit from taking StrengthsFinder? It would help you understand them better and give them a greater understanding of themselves. It would also enable them to begin to see that each person has a unique perspective they offer the world.