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Called to Coach
Strengths and Career Transition: Finding the Engine of Your Success
Called to Coach

Strengths and Career Transition: Finding the Engine of Your Success

Webcast Details

  • What value does a focus on strengths bring to people who are going through career transitions?
  • What are some keys to breaking through impostor syndrome, and what part can strengths play?
  • How can doubt help propel you to success?

Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 11, Episode 17

Below are audio and video plus a transcript of the conversation, including time stamps.


Whether planned or unplanned, career transitions have been a common theme during the past 3+ years, and will continue to be. Yet in all of the changes life throws at you, your strengths go with you. How can you leverage them when you change careers? How can coaches foster greater openness in their coachees to help them navigate these often challenging times, including remedy for the impostor syndrome that often accompanies career change? And how can doubt be your ally and even be an engine to your success? Join Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach Ellie Tabibian and Jason Silvia to find out more.


When you start re-creating your new career story through the language of the CliftonStrengths Report and the Bring & Need Report ... it starts to reframe how you view your past, present and what you want for your future.

Ellie Tabibian, 18:44

When [people think] less of themselves and more of the contributions they're going to make to help other people, I feel that that also helps to reduce ... impostor syndrome.

Ellie Tabibian, 26:17

Just as much as I doubt myself, I need to believe in myself. And so by transcending that impostor syndrome through an acknowledgment or an acceptance, I become a much more whole person. I become more human.

Jason Silvia, 48:24

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on May 5, 2023.

Meet Our Guests on This Episode

Jim Collison 0:18
Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you're listening live, love to have you in our chat room. There's a link right to it above us. It'll take you to YouTube, and there's a chat room there. Sign in; we'll take your questions during the program. If you're listening after the fact, and you have questions, you can always send us an email: Don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast app or on YouTube with the Subscribe button, so you never miss an episode. Ellie Tabibian and Jason Silvia are my guests today. Ellie's Top 5 are Maximizer, Connectedness, Intellection, Relator and Belief, and Jason's Top 5 are Significance, Ideation, Responsibility, Strategic and Intellection. And Ellie Jason, welcome to Called to Coach!

Ellie Tabibian 1:12
Thank you. Happy to be here.

Jason Silvia 1:13
Thank you. Nice to be here.

Jim Collison 1:14
Great to have you. Ellie, let's start with you. Let's get to know you a little bit. And I always love to have our guests kind of tell us the best of themselves in this. So tell us a little bit about yourself, so the, so folks will know who you are.

Ellie Tabibian 1:27
Yes. So I started my career as a CliftonStrengths coach and a career coach after, 8 years after I was a school psychologist. When I was a school psychologist, all I knew then is that I'd love to help people. And I liked the school environment. I had no idea who I was beyond that. When students were, when the team was trying to create goals and objectives related to their weakest skills, whatever they were, I had alarm bells going off in my head. I didn't know why I became quiet. And when strengths were mentioned as a side note then, I became even more agitated. So I became concerned about students' awareness about who they are and the world of work. And I pursued a career education in counseling. That's when I discovered I had Maximizer No. 1 and Restorative No. 34. Had I known then what was driving my contributions in meetings, I probably would not have become a school psychologist. So I made my career change into helping people overcome, especially impostor syndrome that happens during career transitions. Regardless of what your role was, or what you're pursuing, I find that the questioning one's ability and trying to prove yourself instead of expressing yourself happens a lot. And so I've been working with a lot of people in STEM, especially women in STEM who struggle with impostor syndrome, and individuals who are changing into leadership roles. That becomes very common as well.

Jim Collison 2:57
Great. Thanks to be here. Jason, I think I pronounced your last name wrong in the intro. It's Silvia, right, not --

Jason Silvia 3:04
Silvia, correct; it's a common mistake.

Jim Collison 3:06
Sor, sorry about that. We'll get that right. Let's get to know you a little bit. Tell us a little bit about your background.

Jason Silvia 3:13
OK, so I came to Clifton through Ellie. I was reaching out kind of in a state of disarray, not knowing where I was going to go, what I was going to do next. I came out of teaching, and I needed to make a career transition. And so in that transition, I learned so much about myself and why I chose teaching as a profession, being that Significance and Responsibility, as well as all of my Top 5, consistently integrate with what a teacher needs to do. But even going back in my life to where, before I became a teacher, again, I found this integrity, I found this consistency. I'm 37 years sober. I'm a child of foster care. I had a very difficult adolescence. But my Intellection, my Ideation and my Strategic somehow found a way to move me forward, to move me in a direction that I would eventually find myself to be a teaching -- a teacher. And so when I started doing this work, it immediately clicked with me. I mean, it was like, wow, I really understand why I am who I am, and how I got here.

Jason Silvia 4:29
And I don't think had I discovered that, that, that, that piece of the puzzle would have been so clear with me, especially as it has to do with, you know, getting sober at 19; having only a equivalency of a high school education; going back, finishing my high school education at, like, 23, 24; getting a scholarship to go to UCLA; and working in the second-largest public school district in the country. Was recognized in 2012-13 as being a highly effective teacher, because my teach, my teaching strategies had significantly brought up those students that needed to be brought up the most, i.e., those that are in low socioeconomic status and have been labeled, if you will, special learners. And I brought something special to that experience. I brought what I understand now to be my 5 strengths. You know, this, this idea of Responsibility, this idea of Significance, because what could be more Significance than helping somebody who's told that they can't be helped. And so I bring my Ideation and my Intellection and my Strategic.

Jason Silvia 5:41
And one of my colleagues put it very succinctly. And it was, it was an honor, it was a, it was a, it was a compliment. He said, "You will try anything." And he saw that as, as being my strength. And looking back, I understand why it was very me. And so now, currently after retiring, I'm looking at a career in learning analytics, because I did a lot of the analytics that I would come to understand that were analytics to get those students to move where they needed to be moved. So it just sort of naturally fit when I started doing the research with, with Ellie, that that would be probably the best place for me to go. Because in terms of my Significance, when you're doing analytics, you're looking at very large sets of data, you're looking for patterns, you're looking -- for me, I'm looking for patterns in where I can bring those students up to where they need to be. Insights, just, you know, it might be something very simple, as in maybe spending 10 more minutes in front of what you're doing, or maybe means taking a 10-minute break. But those things kind of came naturally to me when I was teaching. And so it just seemed to fit with the learning analytics, which, again, is scalable. I can, I can impact a lot more students on a much greater level with what I was doing in the classroom, once I transitioned into learning analytics.

Coaching During Career Transitions

Jim Collison 7:05
That's awesome. Ellie, career transitions, careers are hard enough when everything goes right. Getting into careers or career transitions, you've, you work with, like with Jason, you work with a lot of individuals where, and actually probably for more of us than we know, it doesn't always go right. So think, tell me about what, what is it about that? Or what does this bring? Or as you think about the work you're doing with this, how is this helping in that area? And tell me, tell me some more about these, this idea of career transition.

Ellie Tabibian 7:39
Yeah, career transitions could be expected or unexpected. You know, it might be a sudden change in an organization that happened, and it makes us rethink, why are we doing this work anyway? Do I need to pursue something more meaningful? Or it could be ongoing, you know, just a lot of burnout, perhaps, in the role that you were. So it could be planned or unplanned. The way this is helpful, the way CliftonStrengths, I find, is very helpful is to help rethink your past with a new sense of curiosity of what you, the value you did bring. And it helps you to shape a very congruent movement towards what's happening now and plan action steps from your CliftonStrengths Report (and we'll talk about the Bring & Need Report a little bit), create action steps that are meaningful for your next role. And especially for individuals who have had, overcome a lot of hardships or struggles in the past, those are actually very necessary and vital in people for their transition and beyond. It's -- the more struggle they've had, the greater the pursuit of something much more profound and meaningful they need.

Ellie Tabibian 8:54
And what I do is often ask about what was concerning them at the time when they were performing that role? What values were not being fulfilled at that time? So using your coaching skills to ask those curious questions about their past helps them to rethink a new story about what they were doing. So it's not just a negative, but they start narrating a new career story of who they were, where they're going currently, and then their future -- how, the contributions they want to make. So it's really about finding themes that are repeated from your past and the value you can bring now, given what you know from your past, and using that to affect the future. Someone leading with Significance, for example, like Jason is, what is the public-facing contribution you need to make on a much more grand scale that you weren't able to do perhaps as a teacher? And how did your Significance play a role? You know, when, while you were going through struggles, Jason, what was a, an unmet need that you needed to make, which helped you to pursue your scholarship?

Jason Silvia 10:08
I think the most important thing was, because it's sort of very consistent with my Strategic, my Intellection and Ideation, I just needed to go deeper in understanding who I was. And when I was brought to the CliftonStrengths. I had an understanding of what those strengths were and what I could do with them. And so in terms of what I bring, it's what I already kind of knew that I had. Because when it was presented to me, it was like, oh, yeah, that makes sense. I understand that. But in terms of the need, it's like, the way I kind of look at it is like, and I'd always looked at it like this before, but I didn't in terms of Clifton, is like, there were weaknesses, and I could see those weaknesses. But I kind of understood, on a philosophical level, that I could turn those weaknesses into strengths. And so by looking at what I need, I look at those as maybe, to put it a different way, turning my weaknesses into strengths.

Jason Silvia 11:10
So in terms of what anchored me to move into the direction of learning analytics, I mean, it has to be my Significance, because my Significance in that sense can be scaled at a much larger level. And it's not just the Significance, it's really, to me, I see it as the Significance and the Responsibility working together. Because to me, the flip side of my Significance is my Responsibility. Because without that Responsibility, what, what is the Significance for? And I think before I understood what my Significance was, it was an immature Significance, and it was only directed towards me and what I could see for me, instead of really seeing what I was doing for other people, and how that brought me the Significance. I could see that on an intellectual level; I could see it in a cognitive way. But in a feeling way, because I hadn't really gone that deep into understanding myself, it really didn't click.

Jason Silvia 12:11
I mean, one, one of the greatest minds in, in the history has said, Socrates said, that, you know, one of the greatest knowledge, one of the most important knowledge is to know yourself. And so knowing myself at the level that I've been able to know myself has also allowed me to begin on this conquest of conquering things that I couldn't conquer before, because I really didn't understand who I was. And so taking it in another direction, the greatest conquest is the conquest of oneself. And so for me, this, this whole journey has been about a self-conquest, because there are barriers that I have. There are blind spots that I have. And those blind spots and those barriers, they feel like it's that opportunity that I need to take advantage of. Where can I find where somebody can bring me what I need? I know what I bring, but I know what I need.

Ellie Tabibian 13:07
Jason, how, what worked out in our early contacts, in our early meetings, where another coach and her client can benefit from? Because you do have a history of being in foster care; you're 19 years sober. There's some stuff going on that also influenced how you approach things. So what helped and are dynamics that other coaches and their clients can benefit from?

Jason Silvia 13:34
You know, I've been doing a lot of work in other contexts along this, this vein, and I belong to a men's group where we, we meet and we hold each other accountable. We come together, we take down our masks, and we learn how to be men as only men can be. And what's common among all of us, I think -- and it's not just men; it's everybody -- is that we have this feeling of inferiority or that we're not, we don't measure up. And so, really, what I connected to when I was doing some of the prep for this is that impostor syndrome. I mean, that has been something that I kind of like knew, but I just couldn't connect to it. It just seemed like it was so -- I don't know, like, it was just canned, like it wasn't coming from me. You know, people, Well, you don't like yourself, you know? And I do. I do. I don't see. I don't frame reality like that. But I connected when I read the definition of what an impostor syndrome is. And to me, it's always been a struggle of, am I doing enough? Can I do more? Am, am I doing what everybody else does? Because, because in that perfectionist in me, I try to compare myself to others. And when I do that, I always find myself lacking. So to answer the question, it's been really coming to an awareness -- and it just happened; really, honestly, it just happened this morning. I'm like, Oh, that's what she meant! Because before, I heard the words, but I just didn't connect with them. So the biggest challenge has been really just struggling -- and you've experienced it with me. I haven't always been very vocal with it, but when I've gone into periods of, of just not being able to really bring what I wanted to bring, it was underneath it was just this, this underlying pervasive sense of, I'm not good enough, or I won't be good enough, or it may not be good enough. And yeah, that's, that's, that's how I would answer the question.

Fostering Greater Openness in Coachees

Ellie Tabibian 15:38
I would like to know a little bit more about our dynamics, though. How were you honest with me and accountable to what we talked about? What helped in you opening up more, and then not really just staying with a dark side, but moving past that as well?

Jason Silvia 15:58
Well, I felt like you really gave me a place where I wasn't felt like I was being judged. You were able to give me personal examples, without going into too much detail, that you understood where I was coming from. So that kind of helped me to like, let, let my mask down a little bit and to open up. But I think more than anything is that what you presented to me just, it made sense. Because, again, going back to my Intellection, my Strategic and Ideation, when people are giving me information, these are going the whole time. And so if there's something that I don't connect with, I won't really invest myself in it. But because I could see the value in what you were presenting to me, I let my, my, my wall down, and I just said, Hey, look, I want to learn more. I want to know more.

Ellie Tabibian 16:49
OK, so one of the things that I think also helped you was, you know, when you mentioned, I do have this background. You know, I've struggled, not, you know, in being in foster care, and so forth. It's for a coach to not completely dismiss it, but use that as to ask what strengths helped you, do you think? If you could go back in time and see what strength played out for you, even in foster care, and what strengths played out for you when you decided you have to go for your master's at UCLA? Which strengths helped you pull through that? And use those questions and, like, for the present, how can I be useful to you now? And why is this important to you now? So that all of this is a seamless transition from your past, what you're going through now and to plan for what's next. So we don't ignore the hardships; we actually recognize them. We acknowledge them; we give them their respect. But we find the gold in the darkest times, and those golds are what helps to create that congruence between what's happening now and in the future. They become essential.

Jason Silvia 18:00
I'm sorry, was there a question in that? I kind of got lost.

Ellie Tabibian 18:02
No, no, no, I'm just, I'm just putting, from my, as a coach, what might help other coaches listening to this. And that when dark, painful things come up from a client that you're not even expecting, and how to use those to create a new, actually, career story. So when we talk about impostor syndrome, it's about you recognize those -- the "triple F radio station" that I call it -- the Fear, Fault, and Failure that plays out. You know, you're gonna fail in a new role; you've, you didn't do enough, so it's your fault, and you're going to fail. So that's one story that keeps playing in impostor syndrome, especially during transitions. But more so, when you start re-creating your new career story through the language of the CliftonStrengths Report and the Bring & Need Report, which I'll just describe in a second, as you give examples, and you use the language from those reports, it starts to reframe how you view your past, present and what you want for your future. Really important is to re-create a new career story of who you are and find the patterns that were there in the past and the means of what you want to do next, again, using your CliftonStrengths and Bring & Need Report.

Ellie Tabibian 19:20
The Bring & Need Report, as, you know, Gallup now has it through Cascade, it's available to coaches if they want to purchase it. What I love about this report is that it brings together all the most important parts of your Top 5 strengths all into one page. The left side of the column shows what each of your strengths brings with, with, with those strengths. And on the right side is what you need. And what helps this, after you appreciate, you know, the patterns and themes that were playing out in the past and what you're going to do next are actionable steps with the Bring & Need Report. For example, if you're in transition, and you're joining a new group on LinkedIn because you have to create a new tribe of people that share your interests, what about using Significance to join in a club and say, How does this affect the outcome? What's so important about what we're doing now? When we do this, what are the effects that we're going to have on the clients we're serving? Or you can use your Ideation in that group and ask, or bring a new and fresh perspective on something. Using Strategic, notice patterns of what you see in data analytics and education. So you can use ideas directly from that report for actionable steps. And whether that means also taking new courses, joining new clubs and organizations, and furthering your education, if that's, if that's what you need to do.

Breaking Through Impostor Syndrome

Jim Collison 20:51
Let me, I want to jump in really quick, Jason. And I want to ask you, I mean, so Ellie just gave us this rundown on thinking about and I bring and I need. And you mentioned impostor syndrome, which everybody suffers from, right, when we think about it? Like I am here. I shouldn't be here. I can't do this. All these, this, these negative thoughts. As you think about today, and what you've learned to get to this point, and you're in a moment where you're facing impostor syndrome, what do you do differently today to my, to work through that in your own mind, thinking about, thinking through your strengths that you might not have had the tools for in the past?

Jason Silvia 21:29
Well, one thing that was extremely powerful in those moments where I went back to my past, and I shared with Ellie, especially about how I came out of foster care, I got to see how my Intellection and my Ideation helped me navigate through a lot of the negative self-talk and delusions that many people have that are struggling with substance abuse. And I got to see that Wow, that really, like, saved me, even though I didn't understand -- it just, it got me to where it needed to get me. And I told, there was this phrase that I gave Ellie in one of those moments. I saw a much more prescient, much more subtle, rich and necessary narrative to be told. And that's sort of been a continuing theme throughout my whole life -- when I, when I was struggling with addiction; when I was working as a teacher.

Jason Silvia 22:27
And so, continuing on into going into learning analytics, it's still a much more prescient, much more subtle, rich narrative to be told. And I don't think that, that narrative ever is completely told until one is laid down. So I look back, and I see that when those moments come, and I feel that impostor syndrome, my Strategic and my Intellection and my Ideation can say, Ah, no, that doesn't, that doesn't work. And if I'm, and if I, because sometimes, you know, I can see that and make that argument. But there's an overwhelming sense or a feeling that pulls me back into that way of thinking.

Jason Silvia 23:10
And so sometimes it maybe just means taking a nap or going to the gym. I've been really throwing myself into exercise. I was, had a herniated disk and went to a chiropractor, and I'm doing much better now. So I'm running every day. And that seems to really clear my head out. Whenever I feel that, I just say OK, let's go run for 15-20 minutes. And I'm able to snap myself out of it. But it has to be something that's actionable, you know, that's, that's a, that's a perfect example of just being in action. And it's what I need to, to quiet the chattering monkeys of impostor. And I just, another thing is, I just know that, you know, we all feel that way. And that feeling is going to come up no matter what I do, but it doesn't have a grip on me. It doesn't have a hold on me, because I've opened up my life and, in part, opened up my life to doing this work.

Jim Collison 24:05
Yeah, it may have a firmer grip when you're tired. Your, your nap idea may be a good one, right. In other words, sometimes --

Jason Silvia 24:12
Or when I'm hungry.

Creating a New Narrative to Overcome Impostor Syndrome

Jim Collison 24:13
Yeah. When we're hungry, when we're tired, when we're, you know, when we're under large amounts of stress, right? We're not, even though we've created that, that new internal dialogue or that different internal dialogue of that narrative, Ellie, as you're saying, I think sometimes a little harder to stick to it when we're not covering other elements of our wellbeing or we're in those kinds of situations. Ellie, I want to ask you this question. So we hear this from Jason's perspective and his story. But as you think about others that you've worked with, kind of changing this narrative, so to speak, and I love that -- because I think oftentimes, Jason, what I heard you say is, we have to constantly remind ourselves of this new narrative, right? No, that was the past. This is today, right? Ellie, how do you help? And what have you seen work with, with, with, not just Jason, with others and really, really using that narrative for future success?

Ellie Tabibian 25:15
Sometimes when they read the report for the first time, even though they say "Yes, this makes sense; this is me," sometimes they actually need to practice saying and communicating directly from the reports, because they actually, I have them sometimes record themselves on their phone and listen to themselves. I have them practice to sharing it with those they work with and those closest to them. So they start using a new language until it becomes very natural. It is a new language for some. So that's why I'm just really, really owning the language of the reports, sharing examples every day, and, you know, not looking inwards so much by putting a spotlight outwards. How will these strengths bring the spotlight, spotlight on other people? And how will it serve other people? So less focus on oneself, really. But the strengths are a means to serve others. So how does Significance serve others? How does Ideation serve others? So when they, thinking less of themselves and more of the contributions they're going to make to help other people, I feel that that also helps to reduce the impostor syndrome.

Jim Collison 26:27
Yeah. Jason, let me throw that to you. Because that's, we talk about that all the time of, of helping others. Are, you mentioned the, the men's group that you're in. Is that your outlet for that? Are you, are you able to serve others in that kind of role? Or how are you doing that?

Jason Silvia 26:40
Absolutely. Because I, being part of this group, there's a, there's a very high standard and expectation that we engage in the process of discovering the source of our power and dissolving the barriers that stand between us and manifesting that power. So we have opportunities to set goals and to hold ourselves accountable to those goals and to be inspected as to whether or not those goals are being met. Because it's, it's sometimes easy for me to see in my head where I'm being an impostor, but there's always those blind spots where my men can say, Hey, man, I'm gonna call you on that; I'm calling BS. And it's just like, Oh, whoa, yeah, you're right. And so then, in that way, I'm able to satisfy my Significance, not just for myself; I'm being an example. Because, you know, not a lot of people want to get up there and, and be scrutinized. And by, by being an example of having an open mind and an open feeling to allow that in, it gives other men to say, Hey, man, wow, this dude's really going somewhere. And maybe I can throw myself in a little harder to it. But I wanted to touch on the impostor syndrome and, and opening up your life so that your Significance is not just for yourself; it's to serve the higher good -- whatever those Top 5 strengths might be. I noticed for myself, the impostor syndrome would work against that idea. Because -- and, and it's worse: that feeling of impostor makes you want to isolate yourself. It makes you want to not be connected to people at all. It makes you kind of want to hide from people. It makes you want to stay in your apartment. And how are you going to help other people, let alone yourself, if you're locked up in your house?

Jim Collison 28:33
Ellie, this, let me ask you this question. Sometimes being a coach puts you in a very difficult like, who am I to tell? Who am I to help? Who am I to influence? However that kind of works out, right, as we think about that. Who am I to have words to speak into Jason's life? How do you individually, when -- not that we decided to focus on this impostor syndrome, but it's such a great, such a great concept in it. As a coach working with individuals, how do you work through this, personally?

Ellie Tabibian 29:08
I overcame my own impostor syndrome when I became quiet during the school psychology meetings, as I mentioned, and I really found my voice through the lens of strengths. And I also found my voice coming from an Iranian culture, where I come from, a lot of times, women in my generation don't have much of a presence or a voice, especially if you have an older brother who's, who's an M.D. and doing bigger and more, you know, financially prosperous things, you feel smaller. So from my own life experience, I was able to find my voice. And I draw from that. I draw from finding my voice through the lens of strengths and my own personal experiences.

Ellie Tabibian 29:49
But then also, it's using those strengths again. My Connectedness says, he chose meaning at this particular time for a reason. He wants to pursue another career. I did not know we were going to go into the depth and breadth of his past and his troubles. But there's a reason why I'm here with him, and I'm here to serve him. My Relator, I'm going to be, you know, I was very honest with Jason at times about my own struggles and how I, I overcame them. Maximizer, no matter what, even if I don't have his life experiences and his triumphs or trials, I'm going to give him the best questions possible, the best questions to arouse more curiosity about who he is, and find the themes for that. So it's our strengths, you know. Achiever -- Did I cover this thing, that thing and the other? Is he going to, is he going to act on those ideas? What else do you need to do to make this career happen? So putting the Achiever notion on him: What else needs to be done to fulfill your career dreams next? Did that answer your question?

Jim Collison 30:58
Yeah, no. We just wanted to let that sit for a second, you know. Jason, you've, you've heard those words from her. And you're the other, you're the other side of the equation on this. Where is, where's your partnership, your coaching with Ellie? Where have those, where have you seen those themes? She can say them, but where have you seen those in, in helping you?

Jason Silvia 31:24
The one word that comes up as Maximizer. I mean, that was always like, though I would, I, though I didn't know that that was the word, I could feel the weight of her pushing me to maximize this experience. And my Intellection and my Strategic and my Ideation and my Responsibility -- I mean, all of them; it's kind of hard to separate one from the other -- rose up to that challenge. And so it was like, yeah, OK, I can see where this is going. And there might have been times where that impostor syndrome would kind of try to pull me away from that. But because I so connected with how she was able to show me, going as far back to my foster care years, how this really was the one thing that probably kept me alive, I was able to, to have trust and to, and to, and to allow myself to just sort of go through the process, even though at times it felt like I didn't really know exactly where it was going.

Ellie Tabibian 32:25
I sometimes warn clients, and this is my Maximizer coming in, "If I'm pushing you too hard, let me know." It does come with a warning. And at times, I did say that to Jason -- "If I'm pushing it too much to rephrase this or push this another level, you just tell me it's enough for now." So it comes with a warning at times.

Jim Collison 32:45
Ellie, how do you know when, how do you know when to stop that? Like, sometimes you can push a little too hard -- or, or, or is, is that impossible? You know, you think of these relationships, especially coming out of a difficult background or a difficult time in someone's life, right? They've just gone through something traumatic in their life. As a coach, how do you know when to slow that Maximizer down a little bit, so folks kind of, you know, can, can -- ? Yeah, I don't know if I have all the words for that question. You're shaking your head. So you talk and I'll stop.

Ellie Tabibian 33:24
Sure. I ask, "Am I pushing you too hard? Is this enough? Or can we push further? Can we, can we go another level higher? Can we make this better?" But I know, when it's time to stop when I myself experience this incredible, amazing, Wow! moments from what a client says or the way they describe their experience. I have a client who just did this video for a church, and using metaphors and her Positivity and all of that was so brilliant that I felt no need to push her even further. I, that could not be made any better. So there are glimpses of excellence where I tell myself, This, this is good. We don't need to push this more. So Maximizer knows when it's amazing, and you don't have to keep pushing further.

Discoveries From Coaching Through Career Transition

Jim Collison 34:19
You, you, what else, as we think about your work with Jason, career transition, what else would you bring, would you highlight in that? What other things did you learn?

Ellie Tabibian 34:25
Sometimes the strength's a little bit more on the impostor end; the transition is, we can get into the grip of those strengths with, it can worsen the situations. You know, with Significance, if you're always looking for that external validation of that I'm doing the right thing, especially during that transition, it can make it more difficult. So it can create more restlessness and worsen the grip of impostor syndrome. You know, overthinking with Intellection. So we have to know when, when our strengths are holding us back during that transition, and when, which strength and person -- we're not meant to make this journey alone -- who will help us take that next step forward, given the tools and information that we have now?

Jim Collison 35:17
Jason, I find, sometimes for me, when I'm fixating on something -- I have high Maximizer as well. So it might be just always pushing something to get better, more out of it, how can we maximize, this kind of thing. I've, I have kind of learned a little bit to, to just have some awareness that, that triggers myself. OK. All right. Whoa, settle down there, big guy; you can back off a little bit. Have you found, as you've been working through this, are you getting a better sense that may, that maybe when you are headed in a direction that's not productive, you're able to catch that sooner and maybe bring it, bring it back to a more reasonable or a more sound place for yourself?

Jason Silvia 36:01
Yeah. And I think that kind of happened early on for me in the relationship that I had with my coach. And it just sort of fit. I can't describe it. Like, OK, for example, when you guys were just having that exchange about Maximizer and pushing too hard, what, what would, it wasn't so much my Significance that got spurred; it was my Responsibility. It's like, Oh, I've got a responsibility to do this and to do it right. But because I really understood, on a deep level, what this whole impostor syndrome was, and though I didn't really know how to articulate it, I knew I had to give myself a break, just sort of going back to the whole, you know, the whole dialogue we had about Intellection and Strategic, that moved me through the very difficult years of my foster care and my substance abuse. So I was able to bring that context in those moments, where I felt like maybe it was too much. And, and I think Ellie sensed that. And so I was never pushed harder than to the point where it was like, Oh, I can't do this anymore. It just seemed that because we had the relationship, and we had established that trust from the beginning, and I had shared some very personal things about myself, it wasn't so much of an issue. Because I, I knew she would understand. I knew there was a, there was a part of her that, that, that understood my struggle and knew that, knew what I was up against.

Ellie Tabibian 37:38
Jim, I wanted to go back to something you just asked about what was helpful going through transitions. I gave you, Jason, a few exercises to do between our meetings. You want to share some of those exercises, and how that helped to reshape how you thought about yourself and your career?

Jason Silvia 37:57
Oh, OK. So that's, that's a really great point to bring up. I think that kind of helped me engage in a physical way, so that I could really wrap myself around the whole idea. So I really needed to get in my mind, in a creative way, what these strengths were. It was one thing to just read it on a page; it was another thing to get my hands dirty. And so what I did is, I took a, an idea that she gave me, and I came up with icons for my, for my Top 5. Here's my Strategic. Here's my Ideation. Here's my Responsibility. And on the flip side, I have all the text. But it was about putting these up on my refrigerator, so that when I went to my refrigerator, I could connect with them, sort of like in a, almost like a ritualistic way. And sometimes I would carry these around with me throughout the day and sort of visit them and connect with them. So that was a great -- that, that, I think that's really what was the thing that, like, catapulted me into, to really getting engaged with this whole process. Because I had to cut things, and I had -- this, these are laminated, OK, so I had to cut the things out, space them on the page. I had to figure out, OK, what am I going to put here, in terms of the themes, the color coding? It was all very Intellection and Ideation and Strategic. And so I got to see myself doing this whole project, with my strengths being engaged. So it was like, wow, OK, I could really connect with it.

Jim Collison 39:43
Ellie, do you do that for everyone?

Ellie Tabibian 39:47
Not to the level that -- Jason took it to another whole new level. I do bring up, you know, what would be one image that you can come up with that would capture your strengths? Just, just one image, and what would be a few words? Jason did way beyond anything I've had other clients do. Another really amazing work that Jason did was created a kind of biblio-biography of his career as a math teacher, and the effect that he had on students. He played around with his strengths in that biblio-autobiography and created a whole new, I mean, he could write a book on that. It was, what I wanted was something to include for his resume. But it became a much more rich storytelling process that was extremely captivating.

Jim Collison 40:38
How did that -- Jason, for you, how did that, writing that, how did that feel? How did that change things for you? What did that do for -- ? By the way, I love that idea as a prework for a resume, writing that, that story out, that dialogue. But what did that do for you?

Jason Silvia 40:54
Again, going back to that core statement, I saw much a more prescient, much more subtle, rich and necessary narrative to be told. I mean, it's, again, that thread just coming through it. It just really made an awareness, made it a connection, in a way that I wouldn't have connected, had she not really understood what my Top 5 were -- even though I really didn't understand. And if you look at the way that I approached it, come on, Significance is right there. I mean, if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it better than everybody else. I'm not just going to do one image; I'm going to do five images, right. And so, when, when I was able to reflect on that, it really, really solidified this, this paradigm. And it's been amazing. It's, it's really, if for nothing else, it's really given me a sense of empowerment and a sense of understanding that, whether it's going to be analytics -- maybe it may, may not be -- but I know now myself enough to know that I can take these core ideas and bring them into anything that I want to do.

Jim Collison 41:58
And Ellie, with the success of those icon, of those images for, for Jason, do you think as a coach, you would, you might use that again on someone else?

Ellie Tabibian 42:12

Jim Collison 42:14
But would you let them -- is the importance of let, it sounds like Jason came to that place on his own, right? He made it better. If you, if all of a sudden now, everybody starts doing these, I, you know this, oh, what I need is a page and laminated and think, it, does it have the same power? Do we still need to come to that exercise on our own? I don't know. Any, any thoughts on that question, as you think about reusing that? By the way, while you're thinking of that, Jason, as you showed me that, I thought, I would put those in different places in the house for me, where I might struggle. Like if I'm sitting at my desk, and I might have a certain thought as I'm sitting down here, I'm gonna put one of those in that place so I can remind myself of it, I would spread them around to where --

Jason Silvia 42:59
Yeah, I didn't think of that. I like that idea.

Jim Collison 43:01
That was the first thought that came to my head. All right, Ellie, I gave you a second to think about that. When you think about that exercise or the others, would you try to duplicate it or at least let them come to their own place?

Ellie Tabibian 43:12
It would be both. If they don't come to it for themselves, I still bring it up. Because they, if they have a visual representation of who they are through symbols, through an icon, through a saying, through a quote that matches that icon, it becomes another reminder, another theme to include in your new career story of who you are. Sometimes I have them put it in their Zoom background, so that when they're in their meeting, someone will be curious: Tell me about that. Why do you have that, for example, that guy with a speaker? I think that was your Significance, Jason. Why, tell me about that. So it brings up more conversation.

Jim Collison 43:54
Jason, your body language changed right before we were going to talk about that. You took your glasses off, and you got kind of serious. When, did you know that was coming? Like, did, did you feel different saying those, as you're walking through this, did you feel the difference in your own, kind of in your own, maybe that's the Significance? But did you feel a difference at that point, as we started talking about those icons?

Jason Silvia 44:18
Absolutely. Absolutely. Cause it was, like, that moment that took me back to that, that seminal moment, if you will, that made everything sort of understandable that OK, this is, this is important. This, this is another way of framing who I am. And it was very consistent with all the other paradigms or frames that I've brought through my life in recovery, because I've had to do a lot of work in recovery. And so another, another phrase that comes to mind from a self-help group that I belong to, and it's very carefully crafted: "Language, when used glibly, is alarmist and defeatist." So I could see that immersing myself in the language of Clifton, I was engaged in the exact opposite. It was based in science, it was based in years of study. And it just, it connected, and it was positive. And it gave me a, I guess you'd say, a neutral way of, of self-criticism and seeing where maybe I need to measure up and where I'm, I'm actually meeting the mark, as opposed to those dark moments before I've gone through recovery where everything is wrong, and I can't do anything right, impostor syndrome, right. And that whole impostor syndrome is, is based in a paradigm of language that's just not used carefully. I'm not really paying attention to what I'm thinking. Is it true that I never get what I want? No! It just feels like I never get what I want. It's never true that I never get what I want. And there's my Strategic and my Intellection and my Ideation saying, Wait a minute, guy. Ah, it ain't working, you know? And so I hope -- did I answer that question?

Jim Collison 46:18
Yeah, I think so. And I love Jason glasses off. I like, I like that persona. I like it! You're, you're really bringing it. Ellie, I've opened the chat room up a little bit for some questions to bring in. But as we think about the, the minutes we have remaining here, anything else that you want to bring out of this, that you think that'd be helpful for those, either in career transition? I mean, you've given some folks some great ideas of some things they could do, but also for coaches, coaching through that? Other, other thoughts here, as we kind of think about bringing this in for a landing?

Ellie Tabibian 46:50
Yeah, some of the questions I used for Jason, repeatedly, actually, every time is, How can I be useful to you now? Why is that important now? And then, when it comes to coming up with themes, you know, that to summarize their past, for example, you know, who was a favorite character -- person living or, you know, fictional -- that really influenced you? And how are you similar to that person? What is the favorite motto or saying that would describe your life now? What else needs to be done to move you towards the direction of your career? So those, those are a few examples of questions that I use. And I also want to just wrap up the symbol that we talked about -- that, the symbol for each strength. In so many ways, I find these symbols much more meaningful and engaging than the next certification and the next degree someone has. So going back to that impostor syndrome thing, rather than pursue another degree that may or may not be necessary, use symbols to communicate who you are, and your values. We didn't talk about values match, but values play a big role as well.

Jim Collison 48:03
They do indeed. Jason, thoughts, as you think through this, like, what advice would you give someone in this situation? Again, we all struggle with impostor syndrome in some, in some way. But any other, any other advice you'd give or thoughts around this?

Jason Silvia 48:21
I would just say, most importantly is just have an awareness that it's there. And that, you know, everybody doubts themselves. I mean, it kind of goes, it triggers in my mind another thing that this, his name was Dr. Abraham Low that stated, the one that, "Language, when used glibly," is that, you know, we all have a very strong belief about our self-importance, right? And if it's a belief, there's also necessarily doubt that goes with that. Because notice, I didn't say "knowledge"; I used "belief." And everybody wants to defend that belief. And at times, that's appropriate and OK. But I think it's just as important, in the vein of humility and an understanding of not too hot, not too cold, not too hard, not too soft -- three little bears, right; very important lesson learned there -- that you know what? It's, sometimes I'm going to doubt myself. But, but just as much as I doubt myself, I need to believe in myself. And so by transcending that impostor syndrome through an acknowledgment or an acceptance, I become a much more whole person. I become more human. Because, you know, honestly, when I was living in that head space of not wanting to be impostor syndrome, if I could really achieve that, I wouldn't be human. I'd be something other than you -- which is just not possible; it's delusional.

Jim Collison 50:01
Yeah, you know, you, what you, what you just made me think of, and I was, we, I've been through a situation recently where we lost, we had a big loss. And, and I thought, you know, there is no great love without great sorrow. And I think sometimes -- there's a famous line in a movie, where he says, There's no, there's no courage without fear. And I wonder sometimes, if there's no success without doubt. Like, sometimes I think we think doubt is the evil, the evil part of, like, if we could just get it out. And I think sometimes that doubt, you know, we started this program, and I said to you guys, "I hope you're nervous," because it actually drives some, it drives some performance, right, when you're nervous. And, and Ellie, your eyes perked up when I said this: I kind of wonder if doubt is the back door to success in a lot of ways. In other words, embracing that doubt for what it is; embracing it and saying, "Yeah, I'm not sure I can," but then applying things on top of it to say, "Here's how I'm going to overcome that." Without it, we don't have, I don't know if we have that success. Ellie, you want to add to that?

Ellie Tabibian 51:09
Yeah. It's almost like you're driving, and there's a lot of chatter from "kids" who are raising doubts about you. "It's your fault. It's your fear. You're gonna fail" -- all those doubts. But you keep your eyes, you hear the chatter, and you say, "I'm still gonna press the gas and move forward."

Jim Collison 51:28
Yeah, yeah. In some ways, it's almost needed. It makes us aware. I think that's the, it begins, it's like, you're alive. If you have doubts, you're alive, still.

Ellie Tabibian 51:41
You're still human.

Doubt as the Engine of Success

Jim Collison 51:42
Yeah. Yeah. No, just I don't know, Jason, do you want to add anything to that? Does that -- ?

Jason Silvia 51:46
Yeah, I mean, what comes to mind to me is I think of the Industrial Revolution, and the men that, that sort of forged this country at the level that we currently experience it, you know, the technological revolutions that came after it. And I can only see very clearly how doubt was at play -- how many people told them, "You cannot do that! Humans can't go that fast. We're not supposed to go up there. You can't" -- you know, and it's, I think that's what's really defined us as a culture, as, as part of, an, an integral part of the American experience. I think it's even, you know, throughout our political system, it's like, we have different sides that say, well, maybe this side is right, but maybe they're wrong. You know, and we have these checks and balances. And if there were no doubt, what would you need checks and balances for? And I think the checks and balances that we have in our life helps us to ameliorate going too far one way or another, and allows that doubt to be the very engine that pulls us forward.

Jim Collison 52:56
Yeah, what if doubt is the fuel? Right? Instead of it -- yeah, right. Yeah. Instead of, I think sometimes we see it as the drain. Right? It's, it's, it pulls us down -- or the anchor, you know, it's what holds us down. But what if it's actually the fuel? What if it's the fuel for our success? What if embracing that doubt and pushing through it becomes the --

Jason Silvia 53:17
Or just, I'm gonna prove you wrong or I'm gonna prove that wrong, or I'm gonna die trying. You know, and why not?

Jim Collison 53:26
Yeah. Some good, some good comments coming in from the chat. So Christine says, As a coach who doesn't lead with visuals, I very much appreciate seeing that in action for Jason. So thank you for that. Good representation, what a good representation of the importance of career wellbeing, Ellie. You took a discussion about a next job to a deep dive on wellbeing. That is great. Some good, some good recognition out there. Lilli says thanks, thank you both for sharing your powerful stories on the transformation that came from getting to know your strengths. Awesome job! And then I, this, I stole this phrase from somebody -- there's a, there's a book out there that failure is the back door to success. I just took that line and threw "doubt" in there. I can't claim it, but I think it's one of those great reminders, especially when you're in these transitions -- and Ellie, you probably see this as you're working with people -- that's the time that doubt seeps in the most. "I don't deserve this. I don't, I didn't earn this. I don't belong here. I don't, I wasn't" -- you know, we fill in all of those talk tracks. And I love, you're, and the, and I'm going to steal this word from you of rewriting the narrative, right. Rewriting the stories we have. I'll give each of you a sentence or two, as we think about wrapping this up. Jason, let me start with you. Any, any final thoughts on this before I wrap?

Jason Silvia 54:51
Yeah, I would, I would put the two together: Doubt of failure is the engine to success.

Jim Collison 54:59
All right. I like it. I like it. Ellie?

Ellie Tabibian 55:02
Well, my Maximizer is so satisfied with what Jason just said that I don't have anything more to contribute!

Jim Collison 55:09
Ditto, in other words, right, is what you said, Well, I want to thank the both of you. Ellie, thank you for, for reaching out to me and saying, Hey, I've got a great story that I'd love to tell. And, and Jason, thanks for being willing to come and say the things. Sometimes, when we've had experiences in our past, it's not easy, especially to come on YouTube and let the whole world know. But thanks for your vulnerability and your openness and your willingness to say those things. And, and I know now, when you take the glasses off, we get serious Jason; he's getting down to business!

Jason Silvia 55:45
My Significance would have it no other way.

Jim Collison 55:47
I like it. I like it. Well, I appreciate the both of you. You guys hang out, hang tight for me for one second; let me close this up. With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we do have available in Gallup Access. You can head out to -- if you've taken your CliftonStrengths -- you can head out to Log in, we got tons of resources available for you there as well. For coaching, master coaching, or like Ellie, you want to become a Certified Coach with us, you can send us an email: And we'll get somebody to help you out with that. If you want to join us -- well, the time is short -- but if you want to, you could still join us for the 2023 Gallup at Work Summit, and lots of conversations, lots of great, a great time to be either together in person in Omaha or virtually, for most people. You can join us virtually -- those still available. Check it out: Find us on Facebook or all the other social platforms by searching "CliftonStrengths," and we want to thank you for joining us today. And if you found this useful, share it. You just take that link, give it to somebody else. I'm sure that would feed Jason's Significance even more. We, we want to thank you for joining us today. And with that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Ellie Tabibian's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Maximizer, Connectedness, Intellection, Relator and Belief.

Jason Silvia's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Significance, Ideation, Responsibility, Strategic and Intellection.

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

Gallup®, CliftonStrengths® and each of the 34 CliftonStrengths theme names are trademarks of Gallup. Copyright © 2000 Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved.

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