A few years ago, I discovered that I had very high cholesterol. I remember learning this news and thinking, "That is really interesting, I now have a greater understanding of my health. I can move on now." Okay, that is not what I thought. What I did think, after I was done freaking out, was that I needed to make some major changes to my diet and exercise routine. Discovery of this issue was a springboard for real change. If discovery is just the starting point in dealing with a health issue, why is self-discovery treated as the beginning and end of someone growing their talents into strengths?
When it comes to making the most of your talents, simply discovering them is not enough.
Self-discovery without a clear plan is meaningless. Why do so many New Year's resolutions evaporate quickly? Because people often never move past the dream stage to creating a written, focused or shared plan with clear and attainable goals. Self-discovery often leads to New Year's resolutions. Many people get a vision of a better self, but that vision stays in their head. You need a written plan that you can see every day.
According to research completed by Dr. Gail Matthews at the Dominican University, your chances of accomplishing your goals increase by 42% when you write them down. That is why I love the "aim it" component of CliftonStrengths. It moves from merely knowing your talent themes to creating a focused plan with succinct and attainable goals to help make real change happen.
Self-discovery dies in isolation. Maybe the problem is that we call it self-discovery. We need relationships to help us grow, and our community needs our growth. But unfortunately, pride and the fear of vulnerability often get our way. When discovery is only about self, we miss out on outside perspectives, encouragement, accountability and innovative ideas. Don Clifton said, "Relationships help us to define who we are and what we can become. Most of us can trace our successes to pivotal relationships."
Self-discovery is easier, not better. It is incredible that we can take the CliftonStrengths assessment and gain powerful insights into our potential for excellence in less than an hour. However, real change takes effort. It takes sacrifice and risk. The self-discovery phase is safe and comfortable, while real change can be messy and painful. There is no failure in the self-discovery phase. We can stop looking for the magic book or seminar that will give us the solutions to change our life without taking us out of comfort zone. It does not exist.
Self-discovery is a great -- and necessary -- start, but the journey cannot stop there. This is why I believe in the power of coaching, so powerful discoveries about our greatest talents lead to improving our performance. Today I have a much healthier cholesterol, because I turned a discovery about myself into a plan, and I worked toward related goals every day.
You can start your journey from talents to strengths today. Select just one of your Signature Themes you would like to lean into more intentionally. How can you exhibit the power of that theme today? What can you do to create the environment that theme hungers for in your relationships? How would you challenge yourself to grow and utilize that theme in pursuit of a meaningful goal? I hope you're ready to get to work. Stepping beyond the comfort of self-discovery can be challenging. But it makes all the difference.
Bob Van Baren's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Responsibility, Communication, Maximizer, Learner and Belief.
Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed: