In this episode, we take you back to another episode from our archives from season one in March of 2018. We share some good reminders about our Strengths, what to do with our Strengths, and simple activities and reflection prompts to revisit as we begin the new year. Enjoy!
Your Unique Strengths
Think back to the moment when you first received your unique StrengthsFinder results. What was that experience like for you?
For me, I remember so vividly the moment I got my results back. I read the descriptions for the theme of ideation and felt like wow, for the first time, this, this thing, this tool, this assessment, has finally put words to what I had already known about myself for my entire life. It was extremely freeing and gave me permission to stop trying to be someone I wasn’t.
Whether you’ve recently taken StrengthsFinder assessment or are a little further along on your journey, this is a good reminder to never stop being curious about the things that make you, you. The language of Strengths is fantastic when it comes to communicating things about yourself that help you stand out. With a little bit of time and energy, you can get a better perspective on your top five themes of Strength and possibly see new ways in which you can approach your personal and professional life.
Analyze Your Results
To help you better grapple with what your themes of Strength mean and to have better conversations about your Strengths and integrate Strengths based thinking into your daily life, you first need to analyze your results. The very first thing you should do once you have received your StrengthsFinder results is to dissect them. Doing so is the most critical step if you want to get the most out of this tool.
Reading results may seem obvious, but surprisingly, many people don’t do it or don’t do it well, they just read the brief three sentence description thinking that’s all they need to know. To get more out of this process, read the long descriptions, analyze them, sit down for a conversation with a friend, then reflect on recent behavioral examples of your Strength.
The First Thing Activity
The “first thing” activity is our secret weapon to better understand and appreciate our Strengths. This simple activity can help you gain a better understanding of your unique Strengths.
- Print the long-themed descriptions of Strengths that you received with your StrengthsFinder results. If you can’t find them, you can go back to the website or use our descriptions.
- Use a highlighter to highlight each description and key phrases, sentences, or words. Highlight things that really jump out or resonate. Sometimes we will have people mark a stronger or lighter shading to indicate the degree to which something connects with them. You can also use a pen and add pluses or minuses to get the same effect.
- Next, grab a different color highlighter or pen and read through your results again. This time, indicate the words and phrases that don’t resonate or you don’t see in yourself. Perhaps you can see some truth to them, but rarely and definitely not the majority of the time.
- Grab a third color of highlighter or pen and indicate which words or phrases that don’t make sense to you. Now, this is going to be important later and it’s okay if you don’t have anything marked in this third color.
- Repeat this process for each of your five themes of Strength. You can also do them individually if you don’t have that much time to devote to all of them at once.
After you’ve done this, you may notice two or three of themes that have more marks than others. If it’s in the first color, the color indicating alignment, then possibly it’s an indication that this is a more dominant theme for you. If the second color seems more pronounced in a particular theme, it could mean that maybe this theme is one you need to learn more about or just isn’t resonating with you for some reason.
Obviously this activity isn’t scientific, but it will help you begin to visualize and break down your themes into more manageable chunks for better understanding. Each of the sentences or phrases that you read point back to the behaviors of the talents that make those themes.
Find someone who knows you somewhat well and ask them for about an hour of their time to get their feedback. This could be a friend, a colleague, a spouse, a partner or another family member. Ask them how they see your themes of Strength showing up at work, at play, at home or in whatever setting you want. It’s helpful if you ask them to read your results first.
Sometimes it’s best to keep this part pretty open-ended and start by asking what stands out to them and if they agree or not. Most often we’re too close to our own results and it’s hard to see examples that others may readily be able to provide for us. Write these things down; jot down what they say and tuck it away to reflect on later. Depending on how well the person knows you, they may also see sides of your themes that aren’t actually being utilized as Strengths.
Once you’re done analyzing your results and you’ve had another person give you some feedback, a way to begin the process of applying this new knowledge is to look for recent examples of Strength. This is something that we recommend everyone does on a regular basis, even weekly. It doesn’t have to take more than a few minutes and can really help you see progress you’ve made to live more out of your Strengths and less out of your weaknesses, or also can help you see areas where you missed an opportunity to engage your Strengths in a more meaningful way.
Grab your favorite writing device and jot down 5-10 recent examples where you’ve seen your Strengths at work. You can do this for each theme, or just take them one at a time. If you’re new to the Strengths language, it’s easier to start with the theme you know best, or maybe the one that had the most things highlighted or marked up from the first activity. Sometimes this can be difficult for people. We’re often our own worst critics and it can be hard to think of personal examples where we see our own brilliance and the good parts of who we are. But that’s okay. Do your best to find real examples of your themes at work.
Over the years we’ve found it’s easier for people to come up with examples of Strengths at work if you break them down into four general areas of life. The following prompts will help you think about how your unique Strengths show up when you communicate, make decisions, relate to time, and relate to other people.
- Communication: Think about how you communicate. What have recent communication exchanges told you about your unique Strengths? Did you see your Strengths come out in any meaningful ways when you tried to deliver your message? Maybe this was in an email, verbally or any other form of communication that comes to mind. Also, think about your desired outcome in how and why you share information with others.
- Decision-making: Are you a fast decision maker or a little bit slower? Do you like lots of details before deciding on something or are you good with just small amounts of information? Think about what behaviors went into those decisions and try to think how those might connect with one or more of your themes of Strength.
- Time: Are you long-term or short-term focused? Would you say you’re inspired by today, by tomorrow or yesterday? Do you show up early to things or are you chronically late? Or maybe you’re just on time? Think about reasons why and then try to think through how one or more of your themes of Strength might influence that.
- People: How do you relate to others? Think back to the previous couple of people that you’ve interacted with today, however brief. Can you see ways your themes of strength may be played out in those interactions? Skim through your theme descriptions again and see which ones may be specifically related to interacting with others. Then connect that back to your experiences. By looking for things in your everyday life, you may be able to see how you can play to your Strengths most often.
Your Unique Strengths
Understanding your Strengths is a transformative journey that can significantly impact your personal and professional life. It’s a journey that involves self-discovery, introspection, feedback from others, and constant curiosity. How can we help you unlock the incredible power of your unique Strengths? Connect with me at email@example.com.
About The Leadership Vision Podcast
The Leadership Vision Podcast is a weekly show sharing our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of a strengths-based approach to people, teams, and culture. We believe that knowing your Strengths is only the beginning. Our highest potential exists in the ongoing exploration of our talents.
Please contact us if you have ANY questions about anything you heard in this episode or if you’d like to talk to us about helping your team understand the power of Strengths.
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