Recently, I was part of a team that took the Clifton StrengthsFinder Assessment. I was familiar with the assessment after taking it on my own years ago but was surprised how much more I got out of it when paired with an in-depth report, debrief and workshop. This time, I learned something really important about strengths. I learned that they skew our perspective of the world and of other people. Knowing them can give us a huge advantage when working on projects with others.
My Personal Experience
Personally, I learned that one of my top strengths is “Ideation”, which means that I tend to get a lot of new ideas, all the time. Before taking the assessment, I would have never identified “getting ideas” as a strength or anything particularly special at all. I had been operating as if everyone around me also had this way of thinking. I would say things like, “ideas are a dime a dozen; they come and go all the time, what’s important is understanding how to execute and take an idea from fantasy to reality.” I expected that others also experienced the same ease with coming up with new ideas, so I would get irritated when I asked questions designed to bring new ideas forth and people would look confused, embarrassed, or stumped.
Once I realized that there was, in fact, a strength named “Ideation” and that I had this strength, it helped me see that while my brain might be ambushing me with new ideas all day, other people’s brains might be processing differently. Understanding this gave me two new superpowers:
- I realized that my ability to generate lots of new ideas could be of unique value to other people.
- I realized that I can probably learn a lot by paying more attention to how other people think through things.
I am very lucky to have a friend who is a certified StrengthsFinder coach, because in our conversations she will often point out behavior patterns that map to certain strengths, and this shows me over and over again how to apply the knowledge and leverage it.
Why the StrengthsFinder is Important
One important aspect of the StrengthsFinder assessment that interested me is how unique it is. It is completely different from the DiSC or the MBTI or the Enneagram in terms of what it tells you about yourself. It adds a new dimension of self-discovery that isn’t captured by the other assessments I typically use.
Once you know your strengths and how they stack up compared to others, it can validate that certain things you’ve suspected about yourself, but not wanted to claim or be too arrogant about, are actually true. It can also explain why you can’t stand doing certain parts of your job, and why you might struggle at tasks others seem to accomplish quickly or at least enjoy.
For example, the assessment can clarify and label your favorite ways of relating to other people: Are you a “Relator” who prefers close relationships and deep, meaningful one-on-one conversations? An “Includer” who makes sure nobody is left out? A “WOO” who makes friends wherever they go? Nailing how you best connect can inform your sales, marketing, networking, teaching, and/or parenting strategies.
Furthermore, knowing how you think, learn and make decisions can help you plan your own projects better. Do you like to get a lot of input from other people, which requires extra time on the front-end to research and ask people questions? Or do you thrive when pivoting and making quick decisions on the fly when several pieces are moving at once?
Building your life around your strengths can bring an ease and flow to your days that keeps you energized and focused longer, helps you get more done, and increases your engagement and performance. Knowing the strengths of those around you can help you divide up tasks more effectively, appreciate and value each other more, and operate more efficiently together.
When we think about our career and want more fulfilling work that we feel passionate about, that sweet spot tends to land at the intersection of our strengths and values. Knowing your strengths can even help you make shifts in a current job that has gotten boring and increase your high energy and flow moments enough to feel more fulfilled and passionate without even making a change!
I am privileged to collaborate with my colleague and friend, Nanor Ohanesian, who is a Certified Strengths Coach, to bring Clifton StrengthsFinder to individuals, work teams, and corporate clients. If you would like to learn more about this assessment, or what it might look like to use this with your team or in your organization, please contact Nahid directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 714-931-2133. You can also learn more about the assessment on her website here: https://www.successexpressed.com/cliftonstrengths.