“The best way to use the Clifton StrengthsFinder® to guide your career is to determine ways to apply the talents in your top five themes to whatever role or profession you choose.” ~ Gallup
— Glen Taylor (@leaderchip) March 24, 2014
In 2003, I was fortunate to be introduced to the book Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton. The book taught me that in order to be successful it is imperative to recognize, understand and capitalize on your unique patterns. These patterns reveal your talents, which are defined as your naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior. Talents combined with your knowledge and skills are what create strengths. The authors of Now, Discover Your Strengths make it clear that of the three, talents, knowledge, or skills, your talents are the most important for building your strengths. Shortly after reading the book I signed up to take the StrengthFinder Profile. This online survey, designed by the Gallup organization, used a series of questions to uncover my dominant patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior – my talents. Below is the report I received from the StrengthFinder Profile on my dominant talents. As you can see my talents include competition, learner, strategic, achiever, and focus. It’s important to understand that your talents or strengths don’t manifest themselves in isolation. The many permutations that can occur through the interactions you have and the strengths you possess make for a unique interpretation of each of your innate talents. That said, it is an interesting exercise to think about each strength and reflect on how they each assist you in being successful.
When a close co-worker found out that my number one strength is Competition she told me that it disturbed her. She said that she had never gotten along with people who were particularly competitive. She went on to express that it was unnerving given that we had such a good working relationship. So, she went back and reexamined the Gallup description of the competitive theme and then she just observed me for awhile. What she told me she observed helped me understand myself and my primary theme. She said that my competition was internalized. I was always competing with myself in a sense trying to outperform my own personal bests. She said she noticed this in particular when it came to learning. She was fascinated by this and it helped her understand how competition can be a positive motivator beyond the typical sports metaphors for competition.
I do tend to internalize competition as a driver for my own performance especially in matters that involve my second theme, learner. Johnny Carson captured the essence of competition for me. In his 1979 60 minutes interview, Carson a notoriously competitive man recognized the strengths and the dangers of being competitive. Competition left unrestrained can lead to a dark place. But when you learn to focus your competitive energies towards the accomplishment of your goals it is a very powerful catalyst.
I love to learn. It makes perfect sense to me that Learner is my second theme. I’ve always valued education as shown by my early carrier choice to become a teacher. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi Click To Tweet I still think of my role as a technology professional as simply another manifestation of a love of learning and teaching. I enjoy the challenge that my technology profession places on me each day to stay educated about the latest tech trends. However, as much as I love to learn, I enjoy even more teaching others. In my current role that means teaching people about how technology can help them and their teams to be more efficient and productive. Showing people how the application of technology can help them is very rewarding for me. My deep love of teaching and learning are gifts. This gift enables me to excel in helping others. I experience a great deal of satisfaction in helping others learn. Whether I’m teaching 1st grade reading or imparting knowledge about the virtues of SharePoint to a project team, it is a powerful talent to be blessed with.
My third theme is Strategic. I use my strategic theme through a scientific method of problem solving in my career as a technology worker. I am able to easily set up situations that test hypotheses and determine which technology variables have a greater impact and desired result. Strategic helps me think through possible solutions and it allows me to cut through the clutter to arrive at possible solutions to situations that can be very complex at first glance.
The fourth theme on my strength profile is Achiever. Achiever is my ‘fire metaphor‘ as Dr. Peter Fuda refers to it. The ability to achieve is centered around a strong work ethic. The only way I can explain it is an intense desire to do good. It is my burning ambition to help others succeed.
My fifth and final theme is Focus. Focus pulls everything together. As Gallup states, “focus forces you to filter and instinctively evaluate whether or not a particular action will help move you closer to your goal.” The focus theme has been very valuable in aiding me to cut through the noise and clutter that can often present itself in a technology profession and pick out what is most critical to pay attention to. I have come to really appreciate my unique strengths but the real power comes in appreciating that each person brings his/her own unique talents to the table. And as a co-worker and team member when you learn to understand an individual’s strengths and how he/she can make a positive impact to the team it is incredibly powerful. Success in a knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves – their strengths, their values, and how they best perform. Peter Drucker
— Glen Taylor (@leaderchip) April 15, 2014