Two years ago I was searching for more fulfillment at work. I had been in sales and marketing for 13 years, and though the company was successful, something was missing. I felt if I kept doing the same thing for much longer, I would look back with regret.
One of the questions I asked was, “What am I wired to do?” You can get an idea of what you were made for when you understand how you were made—purpose informs design.
I turned to Clifton StrengthsFinder. I had taken the StrengthsFinder assessment a few years before and still had the results. Like most assessments, I had received the results, scanned them, and then nicely filed them away for later. There must be a lonely place where all assessment results wait for their owners.
But here I was years later, looking for insight and understanding into myself. StrengthsFinder helped me find some.
Created by college professor and behavioral psychologist Dr. Donald Clifton, he believed that instead of focusing on what you do wrong, you ought to focus on what you do right.
“Find out what you do well and do more of it,” Clifton said. "Become more of who you already are."
Helping people discover their areas of natural, God-given talent is what Clifton set out to do.
After 40 years of research including two million interviews, Clifton discovered scores of individual talented behaviors that could be categorized with other, like behaviors into talent themes. StrengthsFinder helps to measure talent among these 34 different themes.
Knowing my strengths changed by life by:
Giving me permission
StrengthsFinder gave me permission to make “using my strengths” a reasonable expectation at work. Before that, I looked at work as “grin and grit it through”—I didn’t think you were supposed to enjoy it.
Informing my sense of purpose
Naming my talents helped to validate my past moments of “I was made for this” as more than just emotional fervor. I was able to see objectively my areas of strength.
Identifying specific areas of talent
Instead of spending a lot of effort trying to improve what I didn’t do well, it freed me up to focus on what I did do well. This was more fruitful than trying really hard at an area in which I would only be mediocre at best.
Showing me where to target meaningful growth
The best opportunity for success is to start with talent. That’s where the greatest potential is. Knowing my strengths helped me to be strategic with where to put effort.
Establishing confidence that talent was within me
By tapping into my talents, I can produce great results with the material already inside of me. This established confidence that I could lean into my strengths to produce a particular outcome.
Giving me a language to understand talent in others
Now I’m more aware to call out talent when I see it because I saw how powerful it was to recognize my own talents.
As of today, more than 18 million people in 20 different languages have taken StrengthsFinder. It has a huge, supportive community including online groups, annual conference (come to my session!), best-selling books, certified coaches, and its owner, the Gallup Organization.
Once you take StrengthsFinder, you receive several reports that identify your results, explain them, and suggest steps for growth. The idea is to develop your talents into strengths.
Gallup research has shown that folks who operate in their strengths every day are “three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life and are six times as likely to be engaged in their job.”
Two years ago my quality of life was suffering and I was disengaged in my job. But knowing my strengths changed my life. How can it change yours?