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Strengths in Motion: Moving Beyond Seeing Talents as Labels

Strengths in Motion: Moving Beyond Seeing Talents as Labels

Strengths in Motion: Moving Beyond Seeing Talents as Labels

Even though it may seem overwhelming, knowing and understanding the depth of your Signature Themes is key to making your CliftonStrengths assessment results truly empower your day-to-day life. It is essential that you not fall into the mentality of using your top five as labels or categories -- i.e., "You are Achiever." You are not just "Achiever" -- you are so much more than one word. That is the distinction between CliftonStrengths and personality profiles; a profile categorizes, whereas CliftonStrengths reveals themes of talent with which you typically lead your everyday life.

If you have Achiever as a dominant theme, you may be motivated to complete the most tasks possible in your day and generally have a great deal of stamina to do so. You might feel discouraged, even defeated, when faced with nothing to do. Statements like these describe how your talents influence your tendencies, motivations and needs, but they are not a full description of you. Merely labeling yourself "Achiever" is a shortcut that misses the depth of your talent, the depth of how you think, feel and behave. To set your CliftonStrengths in motion, dig a bit deeper.

I direct a non-profit organization that facilitates events where volunteers package highly-nutritious food designed for malnourished people. Our team partners with organizations in Haiti, supplying them with the food packaged at our stateside events. When I travel to Haiti to deliver the food, I tend to lead the experience with my dominant Analytical and Discipline themes. There are hundreds of boxes of food to distribute across several different towns and schedules to be kept to avoid driving after dark. My objectives are clearly outlined, and any disruptions would be more than a simple inconvenience. Though I get to spend time with children who have been rescued, my motivation on the trip is to accomplish the distribution tasks at hand.

My wife joined me on our latest food distribution trip in early March of this year. She has Empathy in her top five, which ranks at 27 on my list of all 34 themes. I lead with structure and organization -- even on a heart-rending trip to distribute food to starving children -- she leads with feeling the stories and emotions of others. This isn't just a statement of fact; it's an important detail when understanding her potential strength as a part of the team. Whereas I typically plan a certain amount of time for each distribution site (one orphanage is a 30 minute stop), it was important to realize my wife needed more time to spend with the children so she could lead with her empathy. I began to see that her impact on the children through interacting with them could be paramount.

This is strengths in motion. It isn't just wearing our theme names as labels; it's going beyond that to truly understand how we can be the best for each other and our project. In Haiti, it wasn't about me trying to become more empathetic, but about me becoming more aware of the strengths of others and realizing the positive impact that could occur when everyone was allowed to lead with their strengths. This was a good thing, as it strengthened our team to not only deliver a crucial need as promised through a structured, logistical trip, it gave us a greater ability to love those who may not have a voice or ability to care for themselves.

Our last trip to Haiti was a good one. From a logistical perspective, we were well organized and accomplished our goal of distributing food for the hungry. But this time, we arrived equipped with a new strength. One that gave our team the ability to lead into each place differently, with a heartfelt desire, and talent, to both provide and feel the needs of others. This time, we looked beyond our talents as just labels and put all of our strengths in motion.

Dan Vincent's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Analytical, Discipline, Harmony, Consistency and Context.

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

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