Using StrengthsFinder to Understand Personal Narrative
I met Gordon Ramsay the other day at the Minneapolis / St. Paul International Airport. He was on our flight from New York City, and my daughter wanted a picture with him. Gordon Ramsey was personable and immediately present to my daughter, looking her in the eyes, asking her questions, using her name, and sharing about his 3 daughters. He not only stopped what he was doing to grant a picture, he also did not press on as if there was something more important than that moment. Gordon Ramsey made a lasting impression, he was present, attentive and accessible… adding a lasting memory to my daughter’s young life.
As strengths professionals, we too have the same potential with the work that we do – create a positive personal first experience, to be immediately present and to leave a memorable and lasting impression. Let us not underestimate to role we play when we are helping people understanding their story, their personal strengths narrative.
Why First Experiences Matter
I have heard it said many times that a first experience make a lasting impression. A first experience is personal, it is the beginning of a relationship. It is also true that a lasting impression can enrich a first experience – you know, how when you tell and retell a story it becomes more and more meaningful? When we retell the story of our first experience, whatever that story may be, the lasting impression becomes more real and more a part of our bigger story.
The story of our lives needs to be shared, so that others can understand their stories. Please, do not be afraid to speak to the shaping of who you are and how that has helped you understand the generative and degerative aspect of your strengths. Yet in so doing, be humble, immediately present, attentive and accessible… you are making a lasting impression.
Understanding Personal Narrative
The week before meeting Gordon Ramsay, I was at a conference in Prague, Czech Republic where I heard theologian Andrew Perriman. Andrew spoke to the importance of understanding personal narrative. As he spoke, I could not avoid applying what he was saying to the work we do as professionals who help people understand themselves through strengths.
Andrew Perriman spoke to how narrative arises from our experience of life set against the history of the larger narrative, our environment. Andrew said helping people interpret their narrative requires our being immediately present and personal. In so doing, we are set up to potentially have a positive impact on influencing the future of others. That is a big responsibility.
The Role of Trust
As strengths advocates, strengths coaches, strengths practitioners, strengths consultants, or strengths educators we need to rely on and trust our senses to help people understand who they are. Knowledge of strengths alone is not enough. Years of experience working with strengths is not enough. I have met many people who have both knowledge and experience in strengths but cannot ‘hear’ someone’s narrative.
I believe that trust plays a much greater role in our professional practice than we may may be willing to accept.
- Trust your senses!
- Trust your intuition.
- Trust your wisdom.
- Trust what you see.
Trust what you say… please do not be afraid reflect back what your senses are picking up. Never underestimate your skills and how they can help people understand themselves and their expression to others. This is one of the ways you can be immediately present to someone. This is how we can be more attentive and accessible. This is your gift to helping people interpret their narrative.
How we Apply StrengthsFinder to Narrative
We at Leadership Vision Consulting are professionals who have focused exclusively on understanding and applying StrengthsFinder to help people know themselves, interpret their narrative and find meaning and acceptance with others. We are professionals who are not only knowledgeable and experienced at teaching StrengthsFinder, we are skilled and artistic at interpreting strengths and personal story.
On many and on multiple levels, our team members are very differentiated from and dependent upon one another. So when we conclude our 1 to 1 Strengths Conversations, we will each tell a unique and stylistic interpretation of how people’s strengths work together and contribute to understanding their personal story. This telling of a story happens in our Learning Community 360º. It is in this moment that we have the chance to create a renewed first impression between someone and those they work with.
Finding the Unique
We will discover something extraordinary when we draw nearer to the extraordinary. StrengthsFinder is an incredibly unique tool in its ability to lead us right to the extraordinary in someone. Everyone is extraordinary in one way or another, and StrengthsFinder allows us a glimpse of this something unique. The more understanding we gain of strengths, the more we have an opportunity sense what is truly unique and beautiful. But my question to us all is this –
- Are we will to be this near to others?
- Are we willing to be this close to others?
- Are we humble enough to speak to others uniqueness with boldness and dignity?
When we come near to others in this way, we will need to rely on our senses to pick up on the various nuances of their strength. We also need to be bold enough to speak to the truth of who they are.
StrengthFinder will give us an insight into people that they may or may not be ready to share with others. We have discovered many people who would rather not share their story with their colleagues. We have met other people who would rather not have their story told because the story of strengths is not the story they have been telling others. We have also met people who have been waiting for help, who have been struggling to be understood, who have been hoping that there would come a day when they could be uniquely understood for the uniqueness they bring.
We hope that this is the role we can play in people’s lives – co-communicators of narrative. As Strengths Professionals we accept this responsibility. We approach people with respect and dignity, we intentionally do what we can to be immediately present, attentive and accessible. We listen and trust our sense. We are not afraid to speak and to draw near.
We each share in this story being told. So lets lean into the strength and courage of our experience and help others become more and more of who they are.