A fact few people know is that there are over 50 years of research in Strengths Psychology, initiated by Dr. Donald Clifton when he dared to ask, “What would happen if we focused on what was right with people instead of what was wrong?” For this he is not only considered the father of Strengths Psychology, but the grandfather of Positive Psychology. He authored his first book on the subject, “Soar with Your Strengths” in 1992 and eventually collaborated with Gallup, Inc., the famous statistics research firm. From there a movement was born.
And for this, I am forever grateful. I am a fan.
Here are a few more facts everyone well-versed in strengths should know.
- The Clifton StrengthsFinder, which identifies our 34 talent themes in rank order, is actually not identifying strengths, but our innate talents. Our innate talents are how we think, feel, act and behave most naturally. When we focus on those talents, then add knowledge & skills, we are developing strengths. A strength is the ability to perform at a nearly perfect level consistently.
Talent x Investment = Strength
- There are 34 talent themes across four domains.
Each talent theme has many ways it can be realized as no talent works alone. For example, if you have the talent of #Communication, you might be particularly good at telling stories while someone else might exercise their talent exquisitely in writing technical manuals. Also, each domain has its own characteristics and needs. While talents have been selected for one particular category, many can wear more than one hat at a time. When you receive your results, you will most likely see that you represent 2-3 domains. It is less likely, though not impossible, that you will represent all four or only one.
- None of us are only five talents. The introductory results of the Clifton StrengthsFinder will only reveal those top 5, but it considers your top 10 in the personalized results. Most people will claim anywhere from 10 to 15 dominant talents. Claiming a dominant talent means you always use that talent and you always receive energy from it when you have the chance to use it.
- Because the report takes into account your top 10, no two people will ever have the same exact description of a talent, even if they share that talent. In fact, even if they share all five talents, the descriptions will still be different. For this reason, of all assessments which are out there, this is the only one which gives you a truly personalized portrayal. And you really are unique. To find someone who shares your top 5 is 1:278,000; to find those same talents in the same order, well now we’re talking 1:33 million. Yep. You read that right.
- Strengths don’t tell you what to do, but they tell you how you will do it. Let’s take the example of two professional photographers. Photographer A has his talents predominantly in the Executing and Strategic Thinking domains, Photographer B in Influencing and Building Relationships. Of the two, without even knowing talents, which one do you think would photograph catalog items most enthusiastically while the other attended lots of weddings? Right, kind of a no-brainer.
And last, but not least…
- Focusing on talents does not mean we ignore weaknesses. It only means we have a new perspective on how we determine a weakness. It might surprise you what most of my clients thought was a weakness, appeared on their reports as one of their talents. This is because any talent poorly developed, or in overuse, becomes an area of opportunity and growth. For instance, someone with #Responsibility may have a hard time saying ‘no.’ While some may view this person as very committed, others may see her as a workaholic or even wishy-washy and afraid to hurt others’ feelings.
Of course, this is just a brief list, but they are based on frequently asked questions. I hope they serve as a good introduction into the world of strengths, and even more so, pique your curiosity enough to explore further.