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Full of Clarity

This is about having clarity on what your unique strengths are and ensuring that you’re operating in environments where your unique contribution is valued.

Think of a time when you contributed to resolving a tough situation - where your involvement had a direct impact and you knew specifically how you could help. That’s the kind of clarity we’re talking about here: knowing what your strengths are and how they add value to tangible things you are interested in and focused on.

Doubting if and how you add value - no matter whether it’s rooted in feeling doubtful in your own capabilities or those of the environment you operate in - can leave you feeling unsure of what to do. Here, let’s look at strategies to get to a place of clarity around what unique value you add. Also, let's check in to be sure that you’re set up to effectively apply your strengths to your day-to-day life. This is about bringing your strengths forward with consciousness and finding ways to contribute your unique way of seeing the world to everything that you’re part of.

What are we talking about when we talk about strengths?

A lot of the words used in this assessment are loaded in that they can mean different things to different people. In this context, when we talk about your ‘strengths’, we're talking about the ability to consistently provide a high level of performance and demonstrate a high level of engagement in a specific activity.  Don Clifton, the author of the best-selling book, StrengthsFinder 2.0,  and the Gallup Strengths Test defines a strength as:

Strength = Talent x Investment 

The key to cultivating strengths is to identify the ways in which you prefer to think, feel, and behave as a unique individual – then complement them with effort and by acquiring knowledge and skills around them. When you consciously emphasize and prioritize your strengths, you’ll be more effective and productive. (Read more)

To do this, it’s important to:

  • Get clear on what your biggest strengths are 

  • Get better at leveraging your strengths in everyday situations

  • Ensure you’re operating in environments that value your unique contribution

Please read on to get more insight into your results – both for this spectrum and also for your environment. Gain an understanding of what it can feel like in each of the zones of survival, coasting and thriving. Then select from the reflective exercises, key questions and actions provided that resonate with you to help you to move forward. Be sure to read through to the end where you’ll find some tips - or things thriving people do - for inspiration and some additional resources for further reading.

 

Please note that any external links to supplementary resources are for your learning purposes only and are not affiliated links that benefit me personally.

 

If more individualized feedback would be helpful as you map out the most effective next steps, I invite you to book a deep dive coaching call. 

SURVIVAL ZONE: Doubtful

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What it feels like:

Feeling overcome with doubt in how you add unique value is a pretty disempowered feeling. It can make everyday activities challenging and even overwhelming and can contribute to feeling lost and confused.

Reflective Exercises / Questions to Consider:
1. Consider where doubt is coming from.
  • Is it because you’re genuinely not sure what your strengths are? 

  • Is it because something’s changed in your life and you’re no longer confident in your own capabilities? 

  • Is it because you haven’t been recognized or valued for what you uniquely contribute?

  • Could it be because you’ve taken on a lot of the feedback you’ve received from others on how to be more effective to the point where you’ve moved far away from what you’re actually good at? 

Getting more clear about what’s causing you to feel doubtful in your strengths is a good place to start so you know where to focus.

2. Unpack a situation where you utilized your strengths.  

This will help you get clarity and lead with your strengths more intentionally.

Think of a situation where your involvement made a difference and you were able to add unique value. 

  • Describe the situation/context. 

  • What specific behaviors did you display? 

  • What was the specific impact of your involvement? 

Now, zooming out, consider in what other situations you could use those specific behaviors?

How to move forward:
  • Character Strengths Survey

  • 360 Leadership Effectiveness 

  • Hogan Assessments

1. Take a strengths test. 

There are many available:

  • Gallup Strengths Finder

  • Principles You

  • Myers Briggs MBTI

  • DISC

Strengthsfinder and Principles You are great if you’re new to strengths-based assessments and they are not expensive (Principles You is currently free). DISC is quite easy to get your head around and is great for use in teams to better understand and work together. MBTI is insightful at the individual level too. 360 tools go beyond your own personal observation and awareness and seek feedback from the people around you. They are a great next step.

If you’ve done some of these, but not recently, either take it again and compare, or go back and read through your results with a critical lens of what feels true.

2. Have a conversation about your strengths with someone you know well.

This will help you to see how you show up to people and may uncover some hidden gems you haven’t considered. Ask questions like:

  • Share a vivid memory you have of a great time we had together. What were we doing? What was I like at that moment? 

  • In your observation, what are some of my top strengths?

  • What’s something you think I do (or a quality I have) that is exceptional? 

  • Are there particular situations you’ve observed where I thrive by using my strengths?

  • Do I have any qualities that you think others around me may not see? What are they and why? 

  • In your observation, do I operate in environments that value and leverage my strengths optimally? How could I improve this?

  • Something light and fun, such as: If I were a color, what color would I be?

 

Be sure to thank them for their input and better yet, let them know how it helps you.

Environment Check

While building strategies to optimize yourself personally is important, it’s also critical to reflect on whether you have the conditions you need through the people around you and the environment you operate in.

Consider how your environment shapes how easy or difficult it is for you to shine by using your strengths. In the different spheres you operate in, ask yourself some courageous questions:

  • Can I contribute and be valued for bringing my unique strengths?

  • Are others honored for their uniqueness and do their unique skills get leveraged?

COASTING ZONE:

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What it feels like:

In this zone, it may be that you once knew who you were but perhaps now there is a wavering of confidence. Was there a change in your professional life? A change or reordering of priorities among the roles you play in your life? When doubt enters your mind it can cause you to loop and spiral if you don’t notice it and catch it. 

For some people, they may enter the coasting zone because they have achieved everything they've wanted and reached a point of, ‘well, now what?” Or they followed a plan so strictly they don’t recognize the person they have become. It’s about knowing yourself and staying true to your unique strengths and using them to achieve more in the spirit and direction of what you want.

Reflective Exercises / Questions to Consider:
  • How frequently do you fall back to focus on ‘fixing’ or compensating for your weaknesses, instead of optimizing your strengths? What specific situations bring this out in you?

  • How can you more intentionally focus on your strengths instead of on your weaknesses? What impact do you think this could have in your daily life?

How to move forward:
1. For one day, pick one strength and focus on bringing it forward to everything you do.

Be proactive. Thoughtful. Intentional.  

  • Notice where it flows and where it’s hard.

  • Notice what gets in your way or distracts you.

  • Observe how doing this impacts both how you experience your day as well as what outcomes result from it.

 

Check out this video! 

2. Have a conversation about your strengths with someone you don’t know well.

This will help you to see how you show up to people and to refine how you show up consistently and clearly to people. Ask questions like:

  • When we first met, what do you remember about the interaction? Share as vividly as you can. Was there anything in particular that jumped out at you or stuck with you?

  • What was your unconscious first impression of me?

  • In your observation (even if it’s limited) can you identify what some of my top strengths could be? 

  • Something light and fun, such as: If I were a color, what color would I be?

Be sure to thank them for sharing their perspective.

THRIVING ZONE: FULL OF CLARITY

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What it feels like:

When you are thriving with clarity around what your strengths are and feel empowered to use them in daily situations, you feel productive and useful. You focus on and appreciate what you can offer and welcome the unique contributions of others.

Things thriving people do:
1. They bring their strengths to life through language.

People who thrive in this area use language that aligns with their strengths. Whether it’s their strengths in strategy, creativity, or analysis, they use words consistently as anchors. “I have a strategic idea,” “What a creative presentation,” or “After analyzing what’s been discussed…”

2. They see it as a duty to contribute their unique value.

They understand that high performance in teams is rooted in being able to leverage the diversity in an inclusive way. They are not afraid to show up with their strengths and voice their perspectives as they see it doing service to the larger group and goals of the team.

3. They welcome feedback - and filter it.

People who thrive in this area are keen to get feedback on how they are showing up. They also know, however, that feedback is loaded with bias. So they filter what comes in and channel their energy constructively for growth optimization.

4. They allow, encourage and celebrate strengths in others.

Not only do they know their unique strengths but they hold space for others to share theirs. They are good at helping you to see them and highlighting when you use them. They help others to feel valued and confident 

Deep transformational work starts the moment you decide you're ready for it. 

Are you ready?

Further reading for inspiration around this topic:
  1. Strengths Finder 2.0, Tom Rath

  2. Go Put your Strengths to Work, Marcus Buckingham

  3. Your Strengths Blueprint: How to be Engaged, Energized, and Happy at Work, Michelle McQuaid and Erin Lawn

  4. The Strength Switch: How The New Science of Strength-Based Parenting Can Help Your Child and Your Teen to Flourish, Lea Waters

  5. Principles, Ray Dalio