- What's the difference between a talent and a strength?
- What does it mean to "apply your strengths"?
- What can you do to start and end your day with strengths?
Below are audio and video plus a transcript of the conversation, including time stamps.
You are uniquely talented. The chance that someone shares your Top 5 CliftonStrengths in exactly the same order is 1 in 33 million. But how do you reap the benefits of applying those unique talents and strengths every day? Gallup Learning and Development Consultant Jessica Dawson has 10 tips that will fuel your efforts to put your strengths to work.
[A] talent is really, you don't have to think about it -- it's falling off a log; it's very much your natural tendencies, versus a strength, which is going to be more intentional.Jessica Dawson, 2:54
Those CliftonStrengths talent themes -- there's 34 of them -- think about them as 34 pathways to excellence.Jessica Dawson, 3:33
I love that saying that "A fish is the last to discover water." That's how close we are to our talent themes. And sometimes it takes other people to recognize that inside of us to ... ignite a talent or to maybe even sustain some of those behaviors that we may take for granted.Jessica Dawson, 19:32
Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and welcome to the CliftonStrengths Podcast. On this podcast, we'll be covering topics such as wellbeing, teamwork, professional development and more. Now enjoy this episode. This episode was previously recorded on LinkedIn Live.
Meet Our Guest on This Episode
Jim Collison 0:17
Jessica, let's get to know you a little bit. Can you give us a little bit of what you do for Gallup, a little bit of your background?
Jessica Dawson 0:23
Sure. And in the spirit of starting with my Top 5, I'm happy to share those as well. For those of you who haven't seen them, it's Futuristic, Relator, Activator, Developer and Individualization. And I work for Gallup, and I'm based out of, well, my home office that is in Chicago, downtown Chicago. I work in the capacity of being a Learning and Development Consultant. And my role primarily consists of turning Gallup's research and sciences into different learning initiatives. And that's typically done via coaching, via facilitating our courses, and then also I work with organizations and helping them think through culture change. So more of that strategy type of work. And I've been at Gallup now for coming up on 8 years. Yeah.
Jim Collison 1:10
Oh, it's so great to have you today. For those who don't know, I'm Jim Collison. I'm the CliftonStrengths Community Manager here at Gallup, I get the fun job of working with the entire strengths community and the coaching community. Arranger, Woo, Maximizer, Communication and Activator. And if you know me at all, you know those Top 5. And I think you know, today, Jessica, as we think about what we are living well, again, we're encourage you to drop your, your Top 5 in chat. As we're thinking about that, and maybe the theme that we're living well, let me ask that question of you. Like today, Jessica, what are you using out of your Top 5 and doing it well?
Jessica Dawson 1:48
Ah, such a good question. You know, I've been doing a lot of coaching calls today. And coaching always puts me in a spirit of yes, developing people, but also connecting from the standpoint of just humanity. And, you know, what's interesting about coaching is I get to coach people that are all over the world, all different sorts of industries. But there are such commonalities in what we are coaching around. So I feel like I've been leaning into a lot of my Connectedness talent today.
What "Applying Your Strengths" Means
Jim Collison 2:16
That's great. Well, we're gonna make some connections as we talk about this idea of applying your strengths on a daily basis. Can you give us, before we start with some really practical, we have 10 tips for folks today. Before we start with that, can you give just us an idea -- what does it mean or what does it look like to apply your strengths?
Jessica Dawson 2:35
Yeah, it's an insightful start, Jim, I would say, because, you know, when we think about CliftonStrengths and the assessment, it really is a talent finder. Right? So it's a starting point. And we use, we can sometimes utilize talent and strengths interchangeably, but they actually mean something different. And so talent is really, you don't have to think about it -- it's falling off a log; it's very much your, your natural tendencies, versus a strength, which is going to be more intentional. So I would say, when you think about application of your talent, you've got to go to that word "intentionality." How are we living out our talents on purpose, so that we are operating from that strengths capacity? I think it's also focusing on what you want to get done, what you want to accomplish, and particularly focusing on the "How as opposed to the "What." So you, you likely will have established the "What," but thinking about those CliftonStrengths talent themes -- there's 34 of them -- think about them as 34 pathways to excellence.
Jessica Dawson 3:40
And it's going to really help you to emphasize, and with that word "intentionality," bringing the "How" -- how you want to get things done on purpose. And then lastly, I would say it's paying attention to how you feel when you operate, utilizing your strengths, you, you will operate in the capacity of utilizing what we call the four E's. So excellence, ease, enjoyment and energy; excellence, ease, enjoyment and energy. And you can oftentimes feel that, that energy, that ease, and that'll allow for you to know that there's an alignment there with operating from, from within that strengths zone.
Jim Collison 4:19
I think that sets a nice kind of platform for us to talk about these, these, you know, 10 ways of applying it. We kind of, you know, this is a question we get in our Facebook groups a lot, right? I'm, like, "How do I make this a daily thing? How do I -- what kind of things can I do so that it's, this is available to me all the time? What kind of exercises or what kind of activities?" So, Jessica, let's take a second. Let's start with No. 1. What are these 10 ways that we can really use CliftonStrengths daily?
Tip 1: Do a Check-In and a Check-Out
Jessica Dawson 4:49
Yeah, we're getting really tactical, really practical here. I would say -- these are no, are in no way in any particular order. So, so just know that we're not ranking these, but these are just some things that you can take with you. But I would say the first thing that we can talk about is this notion of doing a Check-In and a Check-Out. Right? So setting your day with that intention of thinking through, and you can do this in your mind; for some of you that are maybe more visual, you can jot some things down. What do you need to get done for the day? And how can your strengths really help you to accomplish what needs to be completed? And just with that very thoughtful check-in, you can begin to craft out what your day looks like.
Jessica Dawson 5:36
And then I would say, in a high- achieving culture, high-achieving society, we don't always take that pause to do the check-out. So I would say if you're going to do the check-in, make sure that you're doing the check-out, and really settle in to your accomplishments. What did you accomplish for the day? How were your strengths at play? So that could be a really great way to just begin and end the day with strengths.
Jim Collison 6:01
How is that different than just a list of things to do, Jessica? How's that different? Cause I'm good at making lists; not sure I get them all done during the day.
Jessica Dawson 6:11
Yeah, such a good question. I think it's different because you're bringing in the "How." When you think about a list of things to do, it's just the outcomes; versus checking in and checking out, you're focusing in on the "How" -- your natural thoughts, feelings, behaviors will play a part in those to-do lists.
Jim Collison 6:31
Would you think about even maybe jotting down which themes I might be trying to use today to get some of those things done?
Jessica Dawson 6:39
Absolutely. I would bring in the themes; you can bring in combinations of themes and start to really unpack what that could look like.
Jim Collison 6:46
What do you think from a, from a timing perspective? How much time do you think I should spend on this on a daily basis? Because I think some people maybe get a little carried away, or some people not giving enough time. So what do you think, from a timing perspective?
Jessica Dawson 7:00
Yeah, I think from a timing perspective, anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes should be good enough, you know. And again, it's more of a check-in. So listen to yourself, listen to your body, listen to what you need. And that's -- may vary from day to day, you know, from person to person and also, depending on your strengths. You know, some of us, especially if you've got a lot of Thinking themes, this may be something that you really get wrapped up in. So if you know, that that's you, maybe you set a timer, right. But I don't think you have to spend a whole lot of time on it. And it's just like small, incremental actions that can help to create a habit and can help you deepen your understanding of your strengths and how you show up.
Jim Collison 7:42
I love that idea of setting a timer. Like, I think that's just a good habit anyways: "I'm going to spend no more than X -- 10, 15 -- whatever you determine, kind of based on what works best for you. Set that timer. Do that planning. Then get busy at work. OK, let's look at No. 2.
Tip 2: Create Bite-Sized Strengths Education Moments
Jessica Dawson 8:00
Yeah, so I would say No. 2 is going to be Bite-Sized Education Moments. I think the very interesting thing about strengths is that it endlessly unpacks. You know, I took this assessment back in, what, 2011, maybe 2012. And I still have new insights, Ahas! and epiphanies weekly as it relates to strengths. And a large part of that is those moments where you get to bake in some education. I think, I know you, Jim have been at the forefront of a lot of these podcasts and things that we do at Gallup, and they have created content for free. And the content, you don't always have to listen to the whole thing. There's a lot of things that are just more so bite-sized nuggets, such as Theme Thursday shorts or even rereading your reports. And so wherever you can have some Bite-Sized Education Moments are great ways to create that space to have those additional Ahas!, epiphanies and further development within yourself.
Jim Collison 9:02
Yeah, we've actually spent a lot of time over the last couple years taking Theme Thursday and shortening it. Reilly, who kind of helps us with these, with these episodes that we do and we produce this way, we've, we've broken them down. So a great opportunity to create a library for yourself. The Theme Thursday channel today on, as a podcast, are those shorts. So you can go out and get those kind of on a daily basis. Jessica, what do you do? When you think about your daily learning habit, what do you do specifically? What do you do?
Jessica Dawson 9:33
Yeah, you know, it's interesting, because I do a lot of coaching and then I also teach a lot of our course content. So CliftonStrengths is in front of me quite a bit. But whenever there are those Ahas! and epiphanies that come to me -- and you never know when they're going to come to you -- I actually jot them down. I do have high Input, so I have a really good memory. So I don't even always have to jot them down right away. But I kind of store it away, both in my memory but then also in a journal. So that's how I capture them. And then in terms of actually listening to our content, I listen a lot to the Theme Thursdays still, because it's just such rich content.
Jim Collison 10:15
That's great. And I'm, I'm a podcast listener. So I try to catch podcasts in the car or at home to kind of stay up to date on what, with what other folks are doing. Let's look at No. 3.
Tip 3: Take a Healthy Pause
Jessica Dawson 10:28
Yeah, so No. 3 is what I call the Healthy Pause. Right. So going back again to this notion of there's a big difference between a talent and a strength, and a talent is more so your natural way of thinking, feeling and behaving that you can productively apply. Versus a strength, which is an optimized version of a talent or your ability to produce nearly perfect performance within a specific task. And you're doing that very consistently. So the difference, one of the other differences between a talent and a strength is, talent is more so our emotions, you know, it's housed more so in our emotions, and we do these things without thinking about them. Versus when you're operating from a place of intentionality, you're coming from more of a rational place, right?
Jessica Dawson 11:15
So whenever you can feel your talents kind of getting out of whack, right, it's always great to take a Healthy Pause, even if you just need to take, step away from the situation for a minute or two and regroup your emotions, regroup yourself, to have an understanding of, How can I pivot within the situations, within the situation? Am I actually using and coming from a place that is rooted in strengths? Or am I operating more from a talent perspective? Right. And I will say that we are more susceptible to this when we are stressed and when we are hungry and when we are tired.
Jim Collison 11:56
I've been, I tell you what, I've been practicing some intermittent fasting, to just kind of get my, get some things back in order. And I realized how much hunger drives -- sometimes I get stressed and I get hungry. And there's a moment there, oh, I have to stop and think. And I think there's some opportunities, when we're in the midst of some of these stressful activities that we might be doing, to take a step back and say, How can I apply some of my strengths to now push through some of these, right? Might be a Talent Mindfulness exercise of some sort, just to take a minute or two. We have a whole you know, we have a whole podcast about Talent Mindfulness.
Jim Collison 12:34
But I love that idea of taking a pause, figuring out what does "pause" mean for you? When I'm working from home, I just go upstairs. Like I get away from my computers, I go upstairs, go up on the back deck, and I take a few minutes just to kind of clear my head. So, great, great idea. Right. Great, great way of getting out there and getting that done. That works for me; I'd love to hear from others. Maybe you can throw this in the chat room now: How do you take your pause? Like what does that pause look like for you? And you might even, may not even know you're taking it. But it's, I think it's great to identify it. So that's, I think that's some great advice. OK, let's look at No. 4.
Tip 4: Pay Attention to Hurdles or Obstacles
Jessica Dawson 13:10
OK, awesome. So No. 4 would be Paying Attention to Hurdles or Obstacles that come up for you within your day. Right? So it's important to just take a pause here and talk a little bit about, What does weakness, what does weakness mean in the Gallup world, right? So in the Gallup world, we defined weakness, in terms of CliftonStrengths, as something that gets in the way of your success. And thinking about that in a, more broadly, this could be your success, or this could also be other people around you, their successes as well. And we all know that strengths are a lot like tools -- or maybe some of you didn't know that. But strengths are a lot like tools in your toolkit.
Jessica Dawson 13:53
And in fact, you know, Don Clifton used to talk a lot about the fact that we're carpenters, and our strengths are tools -- and I'm kind of paraphrasing. But we need to know when, when to utilize our saw, when to utilize our, our, our hammer, when to put our saw or hammer away, right? So whenever you can, be paying close attention to hurdles, obstacles that are getting in the way of your success, and starting to identify, How is my strength helping me? And also, How is my strength hurting me or hindering me? Starting to also recognize the patterns, right, of when your strengths may be hindering your performance -- that is a great continued practice. So again, if we're thinking about this from a daily perspective, you can start to understand your patterns more thoroughly when you're paying attention to them. Right,
Jim Collison 14:51
We're getting, yeah, we're getting some comments. I think actually 3 and 4 come together pretty well sometimes, because we think about, when I have an obstacle, I actually need to pause. Like I need to be able to, I need to take a second, walk away from it, think it, kind of think it through. For me, with Arranger and Maximizer high, right, 1 and 3, I like to then take a pause and then start thinking, How many different solutions could I come up with to get past this? And I just start, I kind of start brainstorming in the moment; I call it "microbrainstorming," right? Like, and I really enjoy that process. It's a recharging process for me of, like, more solutions charge me; don't deplete me. I think this is one of those areas, right, where knowing what, what really helps coming at this, recognizing that it's a, it's a hurdle, and we have to work through it. So anything else you'd add to that, as far as we think about taking, maybe taking that break and viewing a hurdle for what it is?
Jessica Dawson 15:53
Yeah, for sure. I love the callout of bringing 3 and 4 together. And I think 3 is more so about kind of checking in with your emotions, right? And then 4 is allowing you to start to, over time, recognize the patterns of when this is happening, so that you can have more of an understanding of the help versus hindering behavior. I love what you just said, Jim, about, within your healthy pause, you're actually strategizing. For some people, you may not be at a point where you can strategize; you're just trying to catch your breath. And that's OK, too. But I go, go back to understanding, What does the pause mean for you? And then once you have gotten your bearings, again, daily practice ongoing effort to understand the patterns within your behavior so that you can self-manage.
Jim Collison 16:45
Love that. I, yeah, I love that. My favorite -- I have, I cheated. I looked through the list. My favorite's No. 5. Let's talk a little bit about that, Jessica, and I'll tell you why.
Tip 5: Give Recognition
Jessica Dawson 16:57
Yeah, so No. 5 is all about Recognition. Right. So whenever you can, recognize strengths and give recognition to other people. Especially, you know, when other people have taken this assessment, it's a way to gain momentum within the philosophy. And here's the thing: Even when we are speaking English, like Jim and I are speaking English on the call today; you are listening to us in English. But we all have our own way in which we see the world, right; we all have our own lens. And there is something very powerful that starts to happen when you deepen your understanding of strengths and the philosophy where you can truly start to understand your lens.
Jessica Dawson 17:42
And what happens is you can begin to transcend your lens and see other people's lens more clearly. And when you see the lens of someone else, and you're in appreciation of it, it's a great time to give some Recognition and feedback. It's also a great time for you to realize and recognize what strengths of yours are noticing the, the strengths in other people, right? What talent of yours, what strengths of yours is at play? So again, another way to kind of self-study and unpack and understand your lens more thoroughly, within the feedback that you're providing.
Jim Collison 18:23
I love this, because Don Clifton would say there's, it's, it's nearly impossible to overrecognize someone, you know, you just can't do it. And, and we all know -- I think sometimes, especially as we think about the last couple years, we're all kind of struggling a little bit. And I think some of the ways to pull out of that struggle -- and this is kind of counterintuitive -- but it's to recognize others. Like in that process, we begin, I think to get this positive energy that is, it's, it's contagious. It -- well, that's probably a bad word to use, right, after the last couple of years? But it is. It's, it's, it, you know, it's contagious; it's infectious; it spreads, right? All those things that we've experienced with it, right, but in a positive way. And it energizes people in a way that, and I love, as you say, if you can do, if you can play to their strengths in this recognition, it reinforces those things that they already know, but then they can see it themselves. Right?
Jessica Dawson 19:20
That's true. And the other thing that might happen is, you might actually recognize something in that other person before they recognized it in themselves. So they may not always know. So don't make the assumption, "This person knows." I love that saying that "A fish is the last to discover water." That's how close we are to our talent themes. And sometimes it takes other people to recognize that inside of us to spark a talent or to ignite a talent or to maybe even sustain some of those behaviors that we may take for granted.
Jim Collison 19:49
I love it. We'd say, "filling someone's bucket." Someone just mentioned that. And we have a book about that, but a great opportunity. I think Recognition is a great opportunity to jump-start this daily idea of strengths. And you can't overrecognize somebody, so get it done. Let's look at No. 6.
Tip 6: (Re-)Read Your CliftonStrengths Report
Jessica Dawson 20:05
That's right! Cannot overrecognize. OK, so No. 6 is all about The Reports, right? So whether you have taken CliftonStrengths All 34 report or even the Top 5 report, you get some great intel within the reporting. And we're always expanding, we're always learning new things about ourselves, new things about others, new things about our environments. And so every time you read your report, you're not the same as when you read it the last time. And so every time you read it, there's a new opportunity to gain something new, a new insight, even if you're just squeezing out an inkling, right. So continue to read those reports.
Jessica Dawson 20:50
There's also within the full 34 report a section entitled, "Take Action to Maximize Your Potential." And within that section, it actually gives you suggestions for strengthening one of your talent themes, right. And so, I think that a lot of times when we read our reports, it's easy to kind of put them, put them away and move on to the next thing. But go back to your report. And even if it's not daily, and it's once a week, right, it can be really fantastic, in terms of your continued commitment to understanding your lens and your strengths.
Jim Collison 21:27
Jessica, No. 7 relates to No. 6. So let's dive into that and we can talk about them together.
Tip 7: Be Mindful of New Strengths Insights
Jessica Dawson 21:32
Yeah, for sure. So, No. 7 is all about Being Mindful of those new insights, right, that, that have come up for you and having a way to capture them. So I talked about this earlier, that I keep a journal, right? But there is such continued learning within this journey. Right? There's so, there's such nuance, there's such intricacy. And we didn't even, we have, we're not even talking about the fact or we haven't even touched on the fact that your strengths don't operate in silos; they're always working in concert with each other. Right? So theme dynamics. So you never stop learning.
Jessica Dawson 22:09
The other thing that I would just say about development is that it's not a linear progression. I often will coach people that go through our CliftonStrengths courses. And it's interesting to hear the continued learning that has ensued, well past digging into their strengths, right? So you never know when you're going to have the Aha!, an epiphany, a new discovery. And sometimes, you know, development and learning can feel a little bit messy. So having a place to capture your learning can be great to then coming back to that learning, to those insights, and rereading them. What happens when you reread them is that you will have more insights and more discoveries.
Jim Collison 22:57
One of the things I see a lot in our, in our community is folks say about the reports, "Well, yeah, I've done that already." And I kind of want to say, "Well do it again! It's actually not bad to go" -- you know, "Oh, I read my report." Or "I went through my Insight Guide," and you say, "Well do it again! How long has it been? And do it again!" It, there may be some, I think there's some value in repetition, I guess is what I'm saying there, right. The report doesn't get old right after you read it, right? There's always insights to be had there.
Jessica Dawson 23:27
Absolutely. That's absolutely right. Yeah.
Jim Collison 23:30
Yeah. So, so don't, because you've done it once -- I mean, especially if it's been a while -- go back and do it again. I love, you know, combine these two together, 6 and 7. Take your reports. Find the action plans. Review them often. Take some notes, right.
Jessica Dawson 23:43
I'm loving seeing your talent in action, Jim, in terms of Arranging. It's like, Oh, we can, we can group these things together. We can do this together.
Jim Collison 23:50
Yeah, well, I have high Activator, too. So I'm like, "Get this thing done," right. All right. Let's look at No. 8.
Tip 8: Use the Language of CliftonStrengths
Jessica Dawson 23:57
OK, so No. 8 is all about Using the Language of CliftonStrengths. Right? So we often talked about, talk about the fact that this is a scientific common language, right? And what do we know about language? You actually want to be utilizing the language; you want to be speaking it as much as you can. Obviously, this is easy to, easier to do with other people that have also taken the assessment. But even if not, there's something just about speaking about what you've learned, speaking about your lens to other people who, who haven't maybe even taken it. But the more that you can use the language, the more that you can practice and have a better understanding about how your strengths are showing up for you. And get into the habit, right, of, within your daily interactions, bringing it in when it makes sense. It's also a great way to keep CliftonStrengths top of mind.
Jim Collison 24:47
When we think about the language -- just you said that -- "the language of CliftonStrengths," how important is that to internalize that language to your, for yourself, right? We have some definitions. We have some ideas. But how important is that to really internalize that language for yourself?
Jessica Dawson 25:05
Yeah, I would say, it really does help with solidifying and cementing that this is, these are all pathways to excellence. Because a lot of times, what happens is people will get caught up in a label or a word within their Full 34. And we want to break that habit, right. And so, I almost will say, sometimes it's about ignoring the Webster's definition of that word and diving into what it means within the CliftonStrengths philosophy. And the more that you can utilize it and explain it out, it's, I think it's, it's quite important, especially as you, as you continue along this journey, and eventually, you're going to know all 34 talent themes. You'll be able to use them and talk about them. But on your way to that kind of know-how, kind of expertise, if you will, of the, of the language, it's a great habit to start to utilize. Yeah.
Jim Collison 26:08
I totally agree. Make that your -- Claim it, right. The, the Name it -- let's get beyond Name it, and, and let's Claim that for what it really is. Let's, let's, let's jump to No. 9.
Tip 9: Ask for Feedback
Jessica Dawson 26:20
OK, so No. 9 is about Asking for Feedback when, when you can. So there's something so powerful about sharing out your CliftonStrengths reports, and also just your strengths in general, with other people. And it's great for having a fuller picture of how other people see you. So you may start with people that you know, like maybe a spouse or parents or a best friend. Show them your report and, and see what they say. For a lot of people, they will either clarify or, I would say, maybe even solidify some things that they already know. But for others, you know, they may emphasize some things within your report that maybe you glanced right over. Right. And also, you can look for other, other ways or other openings to share out your CliftonStrengths with other people's as, people as well. That might be a new partnership that you're starting, different teams that you're working on, etc. So whenever you can, share a little bit about yourself, your working style, how your strengths show up for you, and then getting that feedback. It's important so that you can understand how other people see you as well, and have that little bit of that reciprocity within the feedback.
Jim Collison 27:30
Yeah. And that feedback may come through No. 5, which was Recognition, right? You may listen to those clues in the Recognition and bring that in, right? Take, take note of that. Jessica, we are running short on time. So let's quickly go to No. 10.
Tip 10: Think About Longer-Term Goals and Your Strengths
Jessica Dawson 27:44
OK, sounds good. So No. 10 is all about, Think About Longer-Term Goals or Objectives that you want to achieve and how your CliftonStrengths can be helpful, right. So daily, if you can Think About your Longer-Term Goals, it's always great. But continuing to get into that space of reflection, and continuing to unpack how your strengths can help you, is a great way to ensure that you're not optimizing, to the fullest capacity, your CliftonStrengths within your trajectory of reaching those goals.
Jim Collison 28:18
I think both -- we started with short-term goals of the day; we end with long-term goals, right? We kind of come full circle. Jessica, thanks for taking a few minutes today to sit down. Always great to be with you. I don't get to spend enough time with you; always great to do that. And thanks for coming on today. I will remind individuals, Jessica and I got together last year and put 22 of these together. And so if you haven't heard that yet, go to gallup.com, search "22 ways." That's all you need to do -- "22 ways." It'll be the top, the top result that comes back. And we've got more ideas for you as well. Thanks for joining us today. Appreciate you coming out and being a part of it. We've got plenty more of these. So follow us wherever you can. Thanks for coming out. And Jessica, again, thanks for joining us today.
Jessica Dawson 29:01
My pleasure. Bye, everyone.
Jim Collison 29:04
Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of the CliftonStrengths Podcast. Make sure you like and subscribe wherever you listen, so you never miss an episode. And if you're really enjoying this podcast, please leave a review. This helps us promote strengths globally.
Jessica Dawson's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Futuristic, Relator, Activator, Developer and Individualization.