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How to Spot a "Future Thinker": Their Clarity for Tomorrow

How to Spot a "Future Thinker": Their Clarity for Tomorrow

Webcast Details

  • Gallup StrengthsExplorer Webcast Series
  • Season 1, Episode 8
  • Learn how "Future Thinker" children find meaning in what they do, think big and dream about tomorrow.

Kids talented with the StrengthsExplorer theme of Future Thinker love to dream about what is yet to be. They consider possibilities rather than challenges and enjoy imagining themselves in the future. What will their lives be like? What adventures will there be? They likely see bigger, more detailed visions of their future than others around them do.

For Future Thinkers, it's important to find meaning. They'll spend time spinning the fibers that connect what they're doing today to the big dreams they have about what they'll be, where they'll be, and what they'll be doing tomorrow and beyond.

You can spot this talent by noticing a lot of big thinking. You may hear lots of "contemplating" questions. These are more "What if?" than "Why?" Future Thinker kids might be introspective or enjoy daydreaming. They may get lost in their own thoughts and seem to intellectually disappear while having their feet grounded right in front of you.

This happened with one teacher who always felt it was her job to bring a student back to attention, and she tried tirelessly to snap him back to the present moment any time he would daydream or lose attention. Once she identified his Future Thinker talent, it helped her value his big thinking. She noticed his energy was specifically switched on when he was considering how he would help his family in the future. So instead of trying to constantly snap him back, she started coaxing him back into the discussion by asking questions that honored his talent. Questions like, "What do you think this will mean for you when you grow up?"

While the StrengthsExplorer themes do not align directly with any specific design of CliftonStrengths themes, adults might relate to Future Thinker by realizing there is a heavy dose of Strategic Thinking in this one. It does align quite closely with the CliftonStrengths theme of Futuristic, but this does not mean children with Future Thinker will necessarily mature into adults with Futuristic. Rather than prescribing the future strengths of a child, as an adult you can compare and contrast their own tendencies to Future Thinker by considering where you get your best ideas.

This might not be from the same place as a Future Thinker child, but the energy you get when you make a discovery, develop a unique thought or solve a problem is similar to the energy these children experience when dreaming about the future. Future Thinkers experience the most motivation and energy from putting themselves three inches further into tomorrow than today. They're considering what can be, rather than where they are currently.

Words to describe and affirm a Future Thinker:

  • Imaginative
  • Creative
  • Visionary
  • Big Thinker
  • Uninhibited
  • Innovative
  • Inspired
  • Original

One reason we identify the strengths of students is to open up their unique possibilities and definitions of success rather than relying solely on ours. Hold them accountable to their greatness, not yours.

You can help keep this top of mind for yourself and your child with great questions. Here are a few designed to ignite a fire within a Future Thinker child.

  • What are you imagining?
  • What do you think should be different?
  • What will our family love to do next year?
  • What makes you most excited?
  • How could we get better at something?
  • What should we worry less about?
  • What are you looking forward to?
  • How will your life be different when you're an adult?
  • What do you think you'll be excited about next year? (or during your next milestone)

The concept of seeing yourself in your own future and connecting that future to your ability today is an important builder of hope for all children.

Affirm your Future Thinker child by relaxing and allowing them time and space to dream. You can't always see their heavy brain work, but know it's always happening. With this and other similarly cerebral themes, know something is always brewing even if they aren't sharing.

Admit that your Future Thinker child can see things you cannot. Stop talking and start listening. Never dismiss a dream they share, but ask more about it. Do they want to be a YouTube star? A professional athlete? Win an Academy Award? Ask what it is about those dreams that excites them most. There's always more ideas in their head than they are sharing, and inviting these ideas into the open will help you appreciate and celebrate them.


Grow: What can you do this week to help invest in your FUTURE THINKER child?

  1. See the Future (an art project)
  • Ask your child to draw a picture of themselves in the future they're most excited about. This could be when they're an adult, or when they're at the next educational milestone or when they reach a certain goal.
  • Get age-appropriately creative. Body tracing? Claymation? Avatar?
  1. Feed the Future
  • Pick something your child is excited about being or doing in the future and give them a taste of it today. Do they want to be a firefighter? Visit a fire station. Do they want to help others? Volunteer to babysit a neighbor. Do this alongside them THIS WEEK and debrief after. Don't force them to keep the promise -- the exploration might be enough, and they might realize they have other dreams to chase.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

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