Strengths: Your Happy Place

clifton strengths Apr 05, 2022

 

When do you find yourself in the zone?

I’m not talking cardio here – I’m talking about the times when ideas flow and work feels like play. When you’ve got all cylinders firing, chances are, you’re putting your natural gifts and talents to good use. When things feel like drudgery, it’s likely the opposite.

Why does it matter if you’re enjoying yourself at work or not? Can’t you just put your head down and get your stuff done without engaging your feelings?

It matters because when you show up at work getting to do what you love in a way that feels true to you, it’s just easier. You enjoy your days more. You sleep better at night. You get a greater return on your energy investment. You’re happier and healthier. And the people around you benefit from your happiness as well! 

Most of us can pinpoint our happiest times and our least happy times, but it’s often hard to articulate the specifics of what we loved or hated and why. 

Enter CliftonStrengths, an assessment that helps people gain language around their areas of greatest talent, as well as provide a roadmap for developing these talents into strengths. 

I’ve been a Gallup-certified CliftonStrengths coach for almost five years, and I love the way the assessment and philosophy help people develop self-awareness and self-acceptance. I use CliftonStrengths with my middle school-aged daughter, and it is exciting to see how empowering the Strengths language can be with kids and adults alike.

The CliftonStrengths assessment (formerly Strengths Finder) that helps people identify their dominant Strengths from a list of 34. The 34 Strengths fall into four categories:

  • Executing: These Strengths love being busy and getting things done by themselves.
  • Influencing: These Strengths love working with others to get things done and building new relationships.
  • Relationship Building: These Strengths love connecting deeply with other people and being present with those they love.
  • Strategic Thinking: These Strengths enjoy the mental processes of learning, planning, thinking, and playing with ideas.

I tend to work with people most around their top 5 Strengths, which often cluster in 2-3 categories. Every once in a while, someone has all 5 in one category, and sometimes they are spread out across all four.

 

Saying yes to what I love:

 Three of my Top 5 are in the Influencing domain. The joke in my house is that I don’t actually do anything – instead, I get other people to do things! While there is definitely some truth to that statement, what it really means is that I get my energy from being the spark that connects people and gets them to take action. I get easily distracted and tend to avoid times when I have to work on projects alone.

 

Saying no with clarity (and without guilt):

I recently had a conversation with a friend and potential client who asked me to do a whole bunch of things I didn’t want to do, including writing a grant and being on a committee. Of the four things she asked about, I said no to each one. And afterwards, I said, “I feel really badly that I told you no on everything – I just recognize that while these are things that are technically in my wheelhouse, these are not actually things that I like to do.”

I was surprised that she responded, “Actually, I really appreciate your self-awareness around what you do and don’t want to spend your time doing! Maybe I can hire you to help me figure that out for myself! I feel like I have too much on my plate that I don’t actually like.”

To which I replied, “Yes! That is exactly what I do as a Strengths coach, and I would love to work on those things with you!” While part of me felt badly for losing a client, I also knew that I wouldn’t be happy doing the things she needed done, and that grouchiness would have crept into other parts of my life as well.

If you’re making a career transition and are curious about the categories that your Strengths may be in, check out our free quiz here.

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