iNDIVIDUALIZATION. EMPATHY. IDEATION. INTELLECTION. ACTIVATOR.
Hi, I’m Susan, a certified CliftonStrengths coach.
At the risk of sounding dramatic, I have to keep it real. CliftonStrengths changed my life. I consumed many years of my adult life working hard to fix my weaknesses. I was certain that if I could just get some focus, then I could be more productive, and check off more tasks on my to-do list. If I could just be more consistent and disciplined in the way I structured my time, surely it would unlock everything I had been looking for! I spent a huge amount of time beating myself up over my failures – much more time than I spent being consistent or disciplined about my to-do list!
Enter the CliftonStrengths assessment. My results showed me a list of where my strengths lie - IN ORDER. My strengths are in noticing people as individuals (Individualization), and their emotions (Empathy), and spending lots of time in my head (Intellection), coming up with new ideas (Ideation) and in starting things (Activator)! At the very bottom of my list of 34 possibilities were Consistency, Discipline, and Achiever (people with Achiever talents looove their to-do lists and achieving the tasks on them). No wonder I struggled!
That’s when a light bulb went on. I wasn’t put on this earth to efficiently accomplish tasks! In fact, trying to improve my “accomplishing tasks” skills was the VERY LAST thing I should be doing. I was put on this earth to create! To activate people and ideas! To slow down and think, so I can help each individual see what I see in them.
The second light bulb came on when I realized that there must be other people who have the REVERSE talents that I have. It must be EASY for some people to accomplish a to-do list (hard for me), and DIFFICULT for them to identify how others are feeling (easy for me). I finally realized that I had been working so hard at things at which I would ultimately be very mediocre, at best.
I wondered, “What would happen if I worked just as hard at the things that came easy to me? What if, in my next meeting, I would volunteer to come up with ideas, and find a new way to reach the group’s goals? What would happen if I gave a hard pass to the long-term maintenance tasks and detail stuff?”
I’ll tell you what happened. The other people at the table were relieved. They were relieved to not have to think up new ideas. And they were excited to get to organize the details or keep the long-term projects on track. I knew that I was onto something and I knew that I had found my calling.
What we all are yearning for – at work, in our personal relationships, in our roles in the community – is to be doing what we do best most of the time (turns out I do still need to do tasks every day). What we want is to feel as though we have a purpose. We need to be needed. As simple as this concept sounds, it’s amazing how often we set ourselves up to do just the opposite. Join me in the movement to ditch the weakness mindset!