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How Your Own Story Can Enhance Your Strengths

How Your Own Story Can Enhance Your Strengths

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 6, Episode 1
  • Learn from a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach the importance of your own story and how she has used students' and adults' stories and strengths in her coaching.

On a recent Called to Coach Australia edition, we spoke with Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, Nicole Feledy.

We're all contemplating our own personal and professional goals as we kick off 2018. Talking about the work Nicole does is going to help us. Even us as coaches and leaders have an opportunity to reflect. I love your concept of mindful strengths-based narrative. The name of your business is "Is This My Story." Please begin by introducing yourself to us and what you do.

  • My business is about helping people understand the strategies and tactics they can use to be the author of their own story rather than a character in someone else's.
  • My Top 5 are Strategic, Connectedness, Learner, Intellection, Input, and I like to add Positivity and Empathy
  • I'm predominantly a strategic thinker and relationship builder
  • I talk about a learning path and connecting to a larger system. I was living StrengthsFinder before I even knew about it. It was like finding the missing key.
  • I was a school teacher teaching English, interested in how stories could become a metaphor for life.
  • I was predominantly looking at language and communication.
  • What I started to realize was the of power meditation, brought it into my classes, then expanded beyond my classroom.
  • I wrote a book in about 2012, then went into private practice in the area of mindfulness and narrative.
  • In 2015 I was introduced to StrengthsFinder which just opened up my world.

How does this framework play into what you do? (The framework was displayed during the webcast, you can find it on Nicole's web site at

  • Look at the Strengths circle first; we get our own natural patterns of thought, emotion and behavior
  • We need to add knowledge and skills to develop our talents, how do we do that?
  • How are the talents playing? That's where the mindfulness come in
  • Mindfulness helps us be alert to what is happening to us at any particular time, the physical recognizing and letting go, as you practice mindfulness you are recognizing your natural patterns, as you recognize them, it's going to help you strengthen your talents
  • In order to strengthen your talents, you need to practice; the mindfulness is giving you that practice
  • Then we you come over to the narrative circle, you recognize your self-talk, the voices inside your head that is chatting away … which one is my true voice not that of society?
  • Narrative has techniques like symbolism, metaphor, foreshadowing
  • A basic story has an orientation, an initiating event, then a complication, then a resolution
  • What you find is that your mind tends to work in that way
  • The best part about that is that you know there will be a resolution once you've identified the complication and you know you can get your way through
  • The other part of narrative is Hero's Journey which I won't go into now (always a sidekick and wise person)
  • Who are my friends? Who is on this journey with me? Who is that wise person? The wise person can often be the voice within yourself, the sidekick can also be yourself
  • You are the author of your own life because you can recognize the patterns

This seems like something we could all use, understanding our motivations through the mindfulness work and the narrative, but I know you do a lot of work in the educational setting; tell us about the work you do in the classroom

  • One of the No. 1 identifiers of success in the classroom is a student's relationship with the teacher
  • I work with teachers on how they can build a professional, friendly relationship with their students
  • I help students tap into their emotions and develop a bigger emotional vocabulary, the bigger that is the more they can check in with themselves, understand what they're thinking and feeling and then express it
  • When they can do that in relation to their strengths, we can talk about it in an objective way
  • Strengths gives the student a language that makes it so much easier for them to understand
  • E.g. -- It's ok to get things done in different ways and both ways can be successful

This could be a great framework for millennials and others to cope and build resilience and be aware of their own motivations, do you see this?

  • Parents would tell me they appreciated the way I helped them break things down. StrengthsFinder allows us to break things down into needs and contributions and talents
  • You can reformulate the puzzle so it works for the individual
  • I teach teachers how to do this in my workshops
  • People might not always be consciously aware of the connection between communication and relationships, relationships are everything, in order to have effective relationships, you need to have effective communication

So you need a language to put around it to articulate how you are feeling, this gives them the tools to be able to express why they are feeling a certain way. You work with a generation that seems to be anxious, that seems to struggle with this nervousness about the future, do you have any insight as to why?

  • This is a pet area of mine
  • Kids have been more sheltered as children than older generations were
  • When they reach into areas that are scary, they go back into fear mode … I've been taught that if I go out on my own something will go wrong
  • They are always on in terms of technology and judged by society so you need a strong sense of self
  • The impact of an always on society, of being sheltered and it's also really competitive out there, if you don't go to college you won't get a good job and you'll fail, but it's not right for everyone

Does mentoring come along with the work you do?

  • Definitely, it's what I see as one of the core areas
  • I work with businesses and schools in mentor programs
  • Help students move into the workforce
  • The mentor is the "wise guide"
  • We need to give students the skill set to know who they are
  • It's about self-awareness and others-awareness

I've seen that some students have given up. Are you able to work with student like that and pull them up?

  • Yes, they are the ones I love to work with the most
  • I use stories … whatever is the current blockbuster
  • Overlay the idea of talents to the story
  • Use affirming words and a positive/pro-active vocabulary
  • Understand self so you can understand others

Tell us about some of the stories where you've really seen a big impact

  • Working with adult teams is just like working in a classroom, same sets of relationships; same friction in the office
  • We needed to work on how to bring the tone of the group up
  • You need to be aware of your language and the impact of your language on others
  • You need to think through the thought behind a raw emotion before expressing it

As you said, statistics show that students are most successful when they have a teacher that cares about them as a person. Where do you start? With the teacher? With the student? How do you get the movement going?

  • We need start with the teachers, start in the teacher training schools in university
  • They aren't taught strengths, they're taught classroom management which is really discipline
  • Teachers can get burnt out before they barely get started
  • If you're taught about SF and mindfulness then you have a bigger chance of building the relationships with students quickly
  • I always include the parents if I'm working with a student one-on-one; the parents take SF, too

How do the conversations start to get this started in a school?

  • I have a background of being a teacher, I can go into a staff room at lunch and just start talking about strengths
  • I'm also a member of many groups
  • My courses are accredited so teachers can access professional development

Did you start with this end in mind? Are you where you thought you would be?

  • Financially no, I would like to have a broader reach, but looking at my book I've created what I wanted to do
  • My plan for this year is to re-write the book with CliftonStrengths flowing through it in a more definite way since I've discovered it as a robust tool since I first wrote the book
  • I'm determined to make a difference in the lives of teenagers in Australia and the world

As coaches, people say to us that strengths has changed their life, if only we could get to people earlier. You're able to do that and have had that vision. How can we find the book? Your website?

  • My book is available on Amazon, remember it was written 5 years ago and written for teenagers
  • My web site is

What other work do you do apart from working with teenagers and educational settings?

  • In addition to teenagers and parents, I work with families and couples
  • We're planning on offering some retreats this year

Question about age group

  • I work primarily with high school students, year 10, 11 and 12
  • Some younger students if they are part of a family

Nicole Feledy's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Strategic, Connectedness, Learner, Intellection and Input.

Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach Cheryl S. Pace contributed to this post.

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

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