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Discover your strengths
Discover your strengths
Discover your strengths
Discover your strengths
Discover your strengths
Discover your strengths
Discover your strengths
Discover your strengths
Discover your strengths
Discover your strengths
Discover your strengths
Discover your strengths
Discover your strengths
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  • 1. 1
  • 2. Discover YourStrengths Brent OBannon 2
  • 3. Discover Your StrengthsCopyright 2012 by Brent O’Bannon, MBSAll rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmittedin any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, includingphotocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrievalsystem without written permission from the author, except for theinclusion of brief quotations in a review.The author, editing team, and publisher have made every effort to ensureaccuracy and completeness of the information contained in this book. Weassume no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or anyinconsistency herein. Any slights of people, places, or organizations areunintentional. The author and R&B Publishing shall have neither liabilitynor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss ordamage caused directly or indirectly by the information contained in thisbook, and we do not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of anyof the recommendations, ideas, or quality of any products, information, orother materials included in the individual chapter.R&B Publishing115 S. Travis, Ste. 303Sherman, TX 75090First Edition: July 2012Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataO’Bannon, Brent OBannonDiscover Your Strengths, 1st ed.ISBN 978-0-9798049-8-41. Psychology 2. Management 3. Business 3
  • 4. Dedicated to my first mastermind that discovered and applied our strengths to business success:Latham, Ruth, Steve, Brett, Mike, Ryan 4
  • 5. Acknowledgements “Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” -G.K. Chesterton My right hand assistant and rock star, RachaelKay Albers, is to be highly thanked for her hours oftranscribing, editing, and creative expertise in thecompletion of this writing project. Rachael’s top fivestrengths are Activator, Strategic, Connectedness,Individualization, and Communication. I highlyrecommend Rachael as a virtual assistant, writer,and web designer. You can find her atwww.RKAink.com. Thank you for who you are andwhat you share. 5
  • 6. Table of ContentsUnlocking Your Potential ..................................... 9What is a Strength? ............................................. 42Creating Momentum ........................................... 67Starting Your Journey ......................................... 96Getting Strategic ................................................ 134Influencing Success ...........................................165Building Strong Relationships ...........................197On the Road With Your Strengths ....................228 6
  • 7. Chapter 1Unlocking Your Potential “Life is like a combination lock; when you get the right numbers in the right order, you unlock your potential.” Brian Tracy In my twenty years as a licensed professionalcounselor, I have always believed that every humanbeing has their own recipe for success—their owncombination of potential. This combination is notsomething you must search for outside yourself, it’salready inside of you. It’s your responsibility to getthe right numbers in the right order to access yournatural potential. 7
  • 8. In my life, as well as in coaching more than27,000 people in twenty years, I have discovered thatthe “right numbers” are best known as our strengths.When you identify your top five strengths and beginto understand how these strengths apply to yourpersonal and professional life, this knowledge willliterally unlock your potential. This happened for meabout two and a half years ago when I created what iscalled a Mastermind group and invited severalbusinesspeople and entrepreneurs from mycommunity to join me. I wanted to learn from theirsuccesses—both personal and professional—and, tomy delight, they jumped at the chance. In an early meeting, one particular individualin the group—a life and business coach himself—encouraged all of us to take the StrengthsFinder 2.0assessment from the book by Tom Rath. Yet, with mybackground in Psychology, I thought I had already 8
  • 9. taken all the psychological assessments worthconsulting, so I dismissed the StrengthsFinder as afad: “I really don’t want to take another assessment. Ialready know it all.” Finally, another group membertook the assessment and, two weeks later, sharedwith us how inspired he was by the results. Not oneto be left out, I went ahead and purchased theStrengthsFinder 2.0, took the assessment and—wow!—I felt like I was lit on fire when I discoveredmy top five strengths. From that moment, I havebeen a passionate advocate of discovering yourstrengths, applying them in your life, and buildingyour life around them. And, as you might guess, mywife and two adult children have also discoveredtheir top strengths, as well as many of my coachingclients. With the purchase of this book, you joincountless other individuals with undiscovered talentswho are ready to get their hands on the keys to 9
  • 10. unlocking their potential. Are you ready to reach newheights with your top five strengths? ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF º I am Brent O’Bannon and I am an executive strengths coach that builds strengths based organizations and creates momentum for leaders and teams. I have conducted more than 27,000 coaching sessions and spoken to more than 55 organizations in the United States and China.Retrieving Your Keys I want to ask you a question. Have you everlocked your keys in your car? I have. (When I was incollege, it seemed like every other day I was locking 10
  • 11. myself out of my car. In fact, I got what was calledthe “Coat Hanger Award” because I becamesomewhat of an expert on using a coat hanger to getinside my vehicle and retrieve my keys.) One day, itdawned on me that many of us get locked out of ourpotential—our capacity for success—because we havelost our keys. So, we try to white knuckle it—we workextra hard on our weaknesses, trying to overcome orimprove our soft spots. But the point is, werefocused on our weaknesses, not our strengths. Whenasked, “What are your strengths? What do you dowell?” most people automatically respond with whatthey are not good at—we have been conditioned tothink in terms of weaknesses, not strengths. What Ihave discovered is that when we quit trying to do itourselves and we hire a coach—a locksmith with aslim jim who can quickly open the door so we can getour hands on the keys—that is what gets us moving 11
  • 12. towards our destination, our dreams. By starting thisbook, you have already taken that first step. Imagineme as your locksmith. Follow along and Ill help putthe keys in your hands to get you moving towardsyour dreams. The good news is, your keys are readyfor you to use. No need to go searching for them—you can access your personal and professional 1potential in minutes. My client Brenda is a greatexample. Brenda, like you, enlisted me as her“strengths locksmith” and we worked together tohelp get her on the road to success. A few big thingshappened to Brenda in the process: She learned brand new things about herself She developed a language for her strengths She learned how to balance her strengths; and1 Brenda graciously gave me permission use her story in this book. 12
  • 13. She jumpstarted her marriage. Before coaching, Brenda was like many of usraised with a deficiency-based model of personaldevelopment—she could never express what she wasgood at because she was so focused on herweaknesses. When she discovered her top fivestrengths, Brendas self-awareness and self-confidence skyrocketed. Some of us have an idea ofwhat our strengths are, we just don’t have the rightwords—a language—to describe them. Throughcoaching, Brenda learned how to clearly articulateher top five strengths—and you will, too. (Of course,we all have more than five strengths, but the top fiveare the most dominant. These strengths are wherewe want to focus to get moving towards success.) Inour sessions, when Brenda and I discussed balancingstrengths and focusing away from weaknesses, I 13
  • 14. shared how, when we overuse a strength, it canderail us from success, whereas a strength—overusedor not—is never a weakness. An overused strengthcan be a hindrance, but it is never a weakness. Thereal danger lies in underusing strengths, whether weare simply unaware of them or have forgotten aboutthem from years past. When we arent using all ofour strengths, the terrain towards prosperitybecomes that much more difficult to navigate. In Brendas case, I helped her focus less onher weaknesses so she could concentrate onbalancing—and maximizing—each of her top fivestrengths. (And Im going to show you how to do thesame!) One of my best coaching moments—for bothme and Brenda—was when she called me with bignews, only six weeks after we started workingtogether. Originally, Brenda hired me to help herwork towards a promotion and I knew the interview 14
  • 15. was coming up, so I had my fingers crossed when Ianswered the phone. I started beaming as soon as Iheard the excitement in her voice. Sure enough,Brendas strengths-infused interview was a success!With her new sense of self-confidence, as well as her“strengths script”—the language she used to defineand communicate her strengths—Brenda was able tosell herself and unlock her potential, catapulting herinto the next career and income level. But, since sheonly expected results in her professional life, the bigsurprise was how discovering her strengths affectedBrendas marriage, her take on parenthood, and herrelationships with family and friends. These types ofresults are why I do what I do—guiding people to usetheir strengths, not only to yield career success, butalso to help improve their love lives, deepen theirconnections with their kids, and grow their sense ofpersonal satisfaction. When you understand each 15
  • 16. persons unique set of strengths and they know howto best deal with yours, you get your hands on thekey to healthy, thriving relationships. DISCOVERY QUESTIONS º 1. When was the last time you spoke about one of your strengths with a friend, colleague, or familymember? When was the last time you spoke about a weakness?2. In five-ten words, write down some of the phrases you currently use to describe your strengths.The Strength Movement Begins The father of the Strengths Movement was 16
  • 17. Abraham Maslow, a second generation Jewishimmigrant from Russia and the eldest of sevenchildren, born in Brooklyn, New York. Maslow was atimid, awkward young man who confronted heavyanti-Semitism growing up in Brooklyn. He writesabout being picked on by gangs, called names, hitwith rocks, even beaten up, over the course of hisyoung life. Of course, Maslow wasn’t a perfectperson. He was a human being just like all of us,struggling with the ghosts of his past and a difficultrelationship with his mother, whom he was quotedas saying he was repulsed by because she never lovedhim unconditionally. But what Maslow did do, afterstudying Sigmund Freud, was develop a differenttype of psychology—a “healthy” psychology, as hedeemed it. “It is as if Freud supplied us with the sickhalf of psychology and we must now fill it out withthe healthy half,” he writes in Toward a Psychology 17
  • 18. of Being. “There are two faces of human nature—thesick and the healthy—so there should be two faces ofpsychology.” Though Maslow was marked by thenegative effects of anti-Semitism and difficult familydynamics, he found a way to focus on the healthyside of psychology.The Psychology of Potential Maslow believed that all humans have a driveto succeed and fulfill their human potential—thatwere not simply reacting to crisis or illness. You mayhave read about his famous hierarchy of needs, thebasis of which is that all of us have physiologicalneeds—for food, water, warmth, etc.—which are whatwe strive for, first and foremost. If you travel to adeveloping country, for example, youll see how the 18
  • 19. majority of its population concentrates on meetingthese basic needs, making it difficult to focus onanything else. After physiological needs, safety needs are atthe next level of Maslows hierarchy. Safetyencompasses not only physical security, protection,and shelter, but a sense of emotional security, aswell. Have you ever noticed how living in a home thatprotects you from the elements automatically givesyou a greater sense of security in general? Following safety is what Maslow called thebelonging need. This is the need for relationships,love, and, most importantly, unconditionalacceptance—something near and dear to Maslowsheart. You can satisfy this need with family, friends,or another type of “family” that you consciouslycreate. This happened to me. When I was a teenagerin high school, a family I knew would take me to 19
  • 20. church every Sunday—something I had never beeninvolved in before. This adopted “family” connectedme with positive influences in my youth group and,though I had a great relationship with my parents,added to my sense of belonging—being part of acommunity. The next level in Maslows hierarchy is selfesteem, the part of us that wants to have masteryover ourselves and be significant in the world aroundus—to achieve something and make a difference. Wewant to know that who we are is important, a needinextricably linked to being and doing our best,which is the highest need that Maslow talked about—self actualization. According to Maslow, the pinnacle of life isbeing your best, using your creative talents, having amission in life, making a difference in the world, andpursuing the highest for yourself and the world 20
  • 21. around you. Maslow was the first person to do casestudies on healthy, successful people. Instead offocusing on mental illness and abnormal psychology,he began by studying historical figures who weresuccessful—inspirational leaders like PresidentThomas Jefferson or psychologist and philosopherWilliam James. Then, he moved to case studies onhis contemporaries, all while fleshing out his owntheory on success psychology, which eventually ledhim to develop the thirteen characteristics of self-actualizing people. 21
  • 22. MASLOWS HIERARCHY OF NEEDS º 22
  • 23. The 13 Characteristics of Self-Actualizing People 1. Self-actualizing people are comfortablewith reality and have a clear view of it. Not overly negative, self-actualizing people are noPollyannas, either. Self-actualizing people possess a balanced, straightforward understanding of the reality of life. 2. Self-actualizing people have a naturalsense of spontaneity and simplicity withoutpretension. In other words, self-actualizing people are comfortable in their own skin. 3. Self-actualizing people are mission- driven. Instead of focusing on themselves, self- 23
  • 24. actualizing people direct their attention to fulfilling a mission or purpose for the world around them. 4. Self-actualizing people have a healthysense of detachment and a need for privacy.Another way to say this is boundaries, or, the ability to detach and energize. Self-actualizing people lovethemselves and enjoy solitude without feeling lonely. 5. Self-actualizing people are autonomous. Not too reliant on others, the self-actualizing individual is strongly independent. 6. Self-actualizing people feel deeplygrateful. A continued freshness of appreciation—asense of gratitude—for what one has in life, withoutfocusing on material wealth is another characteristic 24
  • 25. of a self-actualizing person. 7. Self-actualizing people have peak experiences. I have experienced many mystical moments in my life, from watching the sun rise at the Grand Canyon to delivering my first child and literally bringing her into the world with my ownhands. Those are peak experiences that I will neverforget and they only enhance my sense of gratitude. 8. Self-actualizing people have a feeling ofkinship with the human race. Free of prejudice,this kinship is the sense of being connected to all of the worlds people, no matter their beliefs or experiences. 9. Self-actualizing people have strong 25
  • 26. relationships. Though, they tend to limit deep,intimate relationships to a small number of people. 10. Self-actualizing people have a democratic character structure. Self-actualizing people want to treat others fairly and be treated fairly themselves. 11. Self-actualizing people have ethical discrimination between means and ends. Ethical discrimination between means and ends— good and evil—is the foundation for serving others instead of oneself and treating people with respect. 12. Self-actualizing people have a greatsense of humor. A friendly, playful sense of humor 26
  • 27. allows self-actualizing people to laugh at themselves and with the world. 13. Self-actualizing people balance the polarities in their personality. For example, a self-actualizing person who is serious minded can also be playful and childlike. According to Maslow,the ability to balance our polarities helps us achieve our full potential. DISCOVERY QUESTIONS º1. How self-actualizing do you feel you are, based on Maslows characteristics? Which of the thirteen characteristics do you identify with your own personality? 27
  • 28. 2. What differences do you notice between yourpersonality and Maslows thirteen characteristics? 3. Which of the thirteen characteristics of a self- actualizing person do your friends and family possess?The Birth of Positive Psychology Now that you have a basic understanding ofthe growing Strengths Movement, I want to switchgears and touch on the birth of positive psychology,the father of which is Martin Seligman, apsychologist and the former president of theAmerican Psychological Association (APA). Seligmanis best known for his assertion that psychology is“half-baked,” referring to the communitys narrow 28
  • 29. focus on mental illness and its lack of understandingof success, strengths, and human potential. Seligmanstarted a revolution aimed at understanding howpeople become their best selves. I highly recommendhis books, Learned Optimism, Authentic Happiness,and his latest, Flourish, which he wrote after beinghired by the U.S. Army to teach about mentaltoughness and resilience to trauma. The booksmessage is about redirecting the focus from post-traumatic stress disorder to post-traumatic stressgrowth and how people endure incredible traumaand still become more resilient and successful.Another one of the things that I really admire aboutSeligman is how he veered from the DiagnosticStatistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), themanual of research by the APA that defines mentalillnesses. If you want to know about anxietydisorders, major depression disorders, or personality 29
  • 30. disorders, you go to the DSM. But Seligman and hiscontemporaries devised a positive alternative,originally called Values in Action, or the VIA, whichemphasizes strength and character, not illness. Iencourage you to take the VIA survey to determineyour top five character strengths—Seligmandeveloped twenty four. The VIA is the perfectsupplement to the StrengthsFinder 2.0 because ithelps add more texture and definition to yourdeveloping “strengths script.”The StrengthsFinder Revolution At the head of the StrengthsFinder revolutionis Donald Clifton, the inspiration for strengthspsychology and the designer of the first strengthsfinder assessment, teaming up with Gallup Polls, 30
  • 31. who have now conducted over a million assessmentsusing his tool. Clifton, who passed away in 2003, wasa scientific trailblazer when it came to developing theStrengthsFinder—the very assessment that you willbe learning about in the next few chapters. TheStrengthsFinder highlights thirty four differentstrengths and is set apart from other similarassessments because of its high level of consistency,meaning that if you were to take this assessmentwhile feeling blue or on top of the world, you wouldstill discover the authentic you. If you take thisassessment in ten years, for example, you will likelyget identical results. In other words, according toDonald Clifton, your core strengths are set from thetime you are born, though they do grow and evolveover time. 31
  • 32. The Modern Strengths Movement The Strengths Movement continues to grow.Two contemporary leaders are Marcus Buckinghamand Tom Rath—the author who partnered withGallup Polls to create the StrengthsFinder 2.0. Rathalso wrote Strengths Based Leadership with BarryConche, linking strengths to leadership. MarcusBuckingham is the author of several books,including, Go Put Your Strengths to Work: SixPowerful Steps to Achieve OutstandingPerformance. (Rath and Buckingham are a couple ofmy heroes and their work has inspired me to play myown part in the Strengths Revolution!) In his book,Go Put Your Strengths to Work, MarcusBuckingham reveals the three myths and truthsabout the Strengths Movement. 32
  • 33. The Three Myths and Truths ofthe Strengths Movement Myth #1: Personalities change over time. Ever heard popular wisdom that says, as yougrow and live, your personality changes?Buckingham says thats nothing but a myth and—getthis—you can’t really be anything you want to be.How many of us were taught that? The idea that, ifyou work hard enough, you can be anything you wantto be? Myth. Buckingham suggests that, with yourstrengths, you can become more of who you alreadyare. According to Buckinghams research, yourpersonality is predominately consistent from birth todeath. As you shift your mindset and learn how tomaximize your top five strengths, you cultivate whatis already inside of you. Your values, skills, self- 33
  • 34. awareness, and behaviors might change but the mostdominant aspects of your personality—your talents—will remain the same throughout your lifetime. Myth #2: You will grow the most in your areas of your greatest weakness At school, at work, and at home, most of uslearn to concentrate on fixing our weak spots. If youare disorganized, you better get organized. If youdislike math, take on a tutor to become a whiz. Guesswhat? Its a myth! Here is the truth according toMarcus Buckingham—you will grow the most in yourareas of greatest strength. Your real potential lies,not in eradicating your weaknesses, but in miningand excavating the gold and the silver of yourstrengths so that you will be the most inquisitive, 34
  • 35. resilient, creative, and hungry to learn in that area.And, because few people focus on maximizing theirstrengths, instead of minimizing their weaknesses, asa member of the Strengths Movement, you have thecompetitive advantage! Myth #3: A good team member does whatever it takes to help the team Myth. Marcus Buckingham maintains that thebest team members deliberately volunteer theirstrengths to the team—most of the time. In otherwords, many of us have been taught that you just“pitch in”—no matter your contribution—becausethats what a good team member does. In theBuckingham revolution, exemplary team membersvolunteer their best strengths because they know 35
  • 36. these strengths will benefit the team. A great teammember is not well-rounded, a great team is well-rounded because highly successful teams utilize eachpersons strengths.Recommendations for YourStrength Finder Assessment1. Purchase your copy of the StrengthsFinder 2.0, thesecond updated version of Donald Cliftons classic.Inside the book is your unique code for the onlineassessment—this code only applies to one user.2. Go to StrengthsFinder.com and take the test.3. Find a quiet, focused place where you will not beinterrupted by phone calls, family members, barking 36
  • 37. dogs, or cats jumping up on your lap because theassessment is timed and you have twenty seconds foreach question. The assessment aims at capturingyour instinctual, gut response to each question.4. Answer each question authentically and quicklyinstead of angling for certain strengths.5. When you finish, check your inbox for a PDFreport highlighting your top five strengths. Thistwenty four page report will describe each of yourstrengths with accompanying case studies and actionstrategies, as well as the best ways for others tointeract with you based on your top five strengths.6. When you read your report, highlight any words orphrases that resonate with you. Do the same with theStrengthsFinder 2.0 book. You will find that the 37
  • 38. reports description of each strength differs from thebooks because the report is personalized to yourunique combination of strengths. The book expandsupon the report, with more details on each individualstrength, so be sure to read both.7. Dont worry—the StrengthsFinder 2.0 is an easyread, though I encourage you to wait to read thebook until you take the assessment. Once youvetaken the assessment, go ahead and start reading.8. As the foundation for the StrengthsFinderRevolution, I encourage you to read the first book,Now Discover Your Strengths, by Donald Clifton. 38
  • 39. DISCOVERY QUESTIONS º 1. Which of Buckinghams three myths have you heard before? Which ones have you repeated to other people?2. What are you hoping to achieve by tapping into your five signature strengths? What dreams motivate you? 3. What are some of the words/phrases you highlighted in your report? Which parts grabbed your attention?4. Are you surprised by any of your five signaturestrengths? What is new about your results? Is there anything that doesnt surprise you? 39
  • 40. Chapter 2What is a Strength?“Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not by eliminating our weaknesses.” Marilyn vos Savant Im a father of two—a daughter and a son—and it amazes me how, even though they grew up inthe same family environment, their personalities areso different. Psychologists studying nature versusnurture say that about fifty percent of our personalityis genetic—what were born with. The other fifty isnurture—the environmental influence of the worldaround us, as well as the people and caregivers in ourlives. And thats true with strengths, too. Theres no 40
  • 41. doubt that, when we are born, we possess a genetic“code” for certain abilities (whether we like it or not).Talent, the first of three things that make up astrength, is in our blood, our brain, our makeup, andour genes. However, a strength is not limited tohardwiring. Over time, we acquire knowledge, thesecond strength component—information picked upfrom our environment and the people in it. As weacquire information, we utilize it to create skills, thethird strength component.The Four Levels of Learning Learning information Applying information Teaching information Relearning information 41
  • 42. I believe there are four levels of learning.First, we gain information, whereupon we are calledto do something about it—application. After that,teaching is the next best way to deepen ourunderstanding of new information. And whatsexciting is that we never really stop learning—there isalways new information to process or knowledge thatwe can gain from deepening our understanding of“old” info. In fact, in order to avoid growingstagnant, we must continue to seek knowledge, oftenthrough “re-learning” what we thought we alreadyknew. Skill is the application of knowledge, throughwhich we develop wisdom—it is the ability to live itout Skill fuels your performance in a particularstrength area. Take Individualization, one of the strengthshighlighted in the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment. 42
  • 43. Individualization is my #2 strength. According to theStrengthsFinder 2.0, Individualization is the act ofbeing intrigued with the unique qualities of people.Its a relationship strength—the ability to look forone-of-a-kind stories. A person withIndividualization is a keen observer of peoplesstrengths. They have the ability to personalizeinformation or how they work with you. In my case, Iwas an only child—no brothers and sisters to playwith—and I had to seek opportunities to connect. So,I honed my Individualization strength. For the firstpart of my life, I grew up in a metropolitanenvironment. In our diverse neighborhood, therewere all kinds of people to meet and experiences tobe had—its where I developed a taste for acquiringknowledge about different cultures, differentmindsets, and different ways of thinking. Then, Ispent the second part of my adolescence in the 43
  • 44. country, in a small town in East Texas. I went to alittle school called Grand Saline and was able toexperience the unique aspects of life in the country. When I talk to people, I love to askquestions—what is your background, what are yourdreams, what are your goals? I love to discover eachpersons one-of-a-kind story, as if each individualnarrative were a stained glass picture totally differentfrom anyone elses. Each of you reading this book hasyour own story. Some of you are motivated to applythis to your work, some of you hope to use thisknowledge to help your children, some of you yearnto transform your sense of personal satisfaction—Iwrote this book for each of you. For me, withIndividualization in my hardwiring, I am not onlysensitive to peoples strengths and weaknesses, butalso their emotional ups and downs, their bodylanguage, their moods. I naturally pick up on the 44
  • 45. little things that make up a persons personality.Many times, when Im talking, coaching, or evenspeaking to a large audience, I have an ability topersonalize whatever Im sharing with the people infront of me. How did I grow in my knowledge andskill? In college, I studied Psychology, Sociology, andCommunications. Then, with my Masters inCounseling Psychology, I deepened my knowledgeand understanding of people, their personalities, andhow to help people grow, succeed, deal with theirweaknesses, and create more happiness. All thetheories I learned—my classes, my reading, and mypersonal experiences—opened up my career to docounseling as a licensed professional counselor andlater, as a certified life coach. As I write this, I realize Ive beenIndividualizing for twenty years—over 27,000sessions of listening to peoples one-of-a-kind 45
  • 46. stories. You cant help but acquire skill if you areapplying knowledge for twenty years. Thus, you cansee how a strength like Individualization iscomprised of talent, knowledge, and skill. DISCOVERY QUESTIONS º 1. What are a few of your natural talents?2. What skills do you regularly develop in your life? 3. Name a few topics on which you are knowledgeable.The SIGN Method Think about your strengths. (Even if you 46
  • 47. havent taken the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment,you still have a general idea of your natural talents.)In his book, Go Put Your Strengths to Work,Buckingham suggests exploring ones strengths usingwhat he calls the SIGN method. S – SuccessAsk yourself these questions: Have I had a level of success in this activity? Do people tell me that Im skilled at this activity? Have I won any awards for this strength? I – Instinct How often do I practice this activity? Every day? 47
  • 48. Do I volunteer for this activity? Volunteering indicates that a strength isinstinctual. If an activity is part of the natural flow ofyour life, there is probably a strength right aroundthe corner. G – Growth Remember, its a myth to believe that we canbe anything we want to be. But we can be more ofwho we already are, and thats what Growth standsfor in SIGN. Growth is the ability to learn somethingquickly and easily without struggling or seeing it as achore. Take psychology, in my case. I love thinking,learning new ideas, and understanding people. I amhungry—I cant wait to learn more about coaching 48
  • 49. and counseling and I dont mind doing it. Thus, Ihave incredible potential for growth in this area,which is a good sign that psychology has somethingto do with one of my top five strengths. N – Needs We all have needs. Remember Maslowshierarchy from Chapter One? A good sign of astrength in a persons life is that it meets one of theirprimary needs. You can look at this in a number ofways, asking yourself: Am I excited/eager to do this particular activity? Do I have fun thinking about/doing this activity? Does this activity give me a sense of purpose? 49
  • 50. Passion and motivation to do a particularactivity, or simple enjoyment of the activity itself, aresigns that you have likely discovered a strength. Theneeds component of Buckinghams Sign Method ishelpful when working with kids, as well as adults inthe work world. Though we tend to put people inboxes, personalities are round. In order to have awell-rounded team, family, and community, it isimportant to find out what excites each person. If itjazzes you up, there is a strength lurking nearby.What is a Weakness? Most of us are experts in noticing ourweaknesses, not our strengths, which is why it iscrucial to highlight the difference between the two.Much like with strengths, we have a certain amount 50
  • 51. of talent, knowledge, and skill in our areas ofweakness. For example, being Analytical is notamong my top five strengths. Many times, peoplewho have the Analytical strength are good withtechnology and numbers—my personal weaknesses.Sure, I have a basic talent for analytics becauseresearch and math were part of my education inPsychology, but, I struggled with math since gradeschool. I didnt want to do division! And, by the timeI ended up trying to learn trig as a senior in highschool, I needed all kinds of tutoring to increase myknowledge—my ability to understand trigonometry.Despite all my hard work, I just couldnt get it. Itwasnt instinctual for me and, more than that, itsimply wasnt fun. Therefore, my skills in math andtechnology are pretty basic. Thank God forcalculators, CPAs, and people with this strength—likemy dad, a gifted mathematician—because, for me, its 51
  • 52. a weakness. You can re-use Buckinghams SIGNtechnique when determining if something is aweakness in your life by tweaking the language andadding the word “lack.” S – Lack of SuccessAsk yourself these questions: Have I experienced little success in this activity? Do people tell me I need to improve in this area? Have I never won any awards for this activity? Personally, I have always had a lack of successin math. (You wont catch me winning a math awardanytime soon!) Using SIGN, it is easy to pin math asa weakness. 52
  • 53. I – Lack of Instinct Do I try to avoid this particular activity? Must I force myself to do this activity?Do I volunteer other people for this activity instead of myself? Because talent and instinct are synonymous,avoiding a particular activity often points to an areaof weakness. G – Lack of Growth Is learning about this activity difficult for me?Do I require extra guidance in order to understand or master this activity? 53
  • 54. Sure, I learned some math and technologybasics in my years in school, though neither camenaturally to me. (In fact, I find them quite boring.)Working with numbers or technology for too longeither frustrates me or puts me to sleep. And Im nota high performer, either—just another indication of aweakness. The point is, if theres a lack of growth andlearning—youre not catching on, even with extraclasses and mentoring—this indicates a weakness. L – Lack of Needs Do I feel drained by this particular activity? Do I avoid thinking about this particular activity? Do I consider this activity unnecessary? 54
  • 55. Over the years I have worked a few odd jobsand I remember two particular jobs that I absolutelyhated. The first was a position on a ranch. I workedfor a farmer and, one day, he dropped me off all bymyself in the fields to pull potato slips. I had no oneto talk to, no one to do anything with—I just had toput the potato slips in boxes. Talk about drained! Icringed at the thought of being on the ranch. Thesecond was a job I took when I was married with twokids, looking to make some money to provide for myfamily. I became a carpenters helper and it waspretty darn funny. I think I worked for the guy nomore than two days before things fell apart. Now, Ican work hard—no problem. But, one particular day,he asked me to take some measurements for aproject and I looked at him stupidly, like, “How doyou do that?!” I was terrible at it. I didnt like it,didnt enjoy it, didnt want to learn. Not too long 55
  • 56. after, he said, “Brent, I just dont think youre cut outto be a carpenter.” He fired me on the spot. It wasthe best thing he could do! I didnt need to waste mytime or his—I had identified a weakness. Thats notto say that I havent learned how to build a few thingsbetween then and now. Believe it or not, I workedwith my wife and father-in-law, who is veryanalytical, to build a wood deck and install woodfloors in our house. It is possible to learn how tobuffer your weaknesses, but you cannot turn theminto strengths. So, why waste your time on aweakness? DISCOVERY QUESTIONS º1. Based on the SIGN acronym, what strengths can you identify in your life? 56
  • 57. 2. Which strength has earned you the most praise?3. Where do your impulses lie? Of all your strengths, which do you enjoy practicing the most? 4. Based on the SIGN acronym, what weaknesses can you identify in your life?5. Are there topics or activities that, no matter how much you learn or practice, you cannot seem to master?I Feel Strong When...1. Find a quiet place, clear your mind, and take adeep breath. 57
  • 58. 2. On a piece of paper, write, “I feel strong when…”3. Finish the sentence with what immediately comesto mind. Here are a few of my own examples: I feel strong when speaking to big crowds. I feel strong when serving to win a match. I feel strong when Im sitting with someone and talking one-on-one, from the heart.When I did this exercise, I wrote volumes. Then, Ibegan to apply my realizations to specific areas of mylife. To better understand your strengths, completethe sentences: I feel strong at work when... I feel strong in my marriage when… I feel strong in my parenting when... 58
  • 59. I feel strong on my team when... I feel strong spiritually when…Who is the best judge of your strengths? Ill give youa hint. Its not your boss. Its not your spouse. Its notyour kids. Its not your parents. Its you. While it istrue that other people have valuable insights on yourstrengths, they dont know whats in your mind oryour heart, thus, they arent privy to all your strengthsignals.4. Now, reverse the exercise and finish the sentence,“I feel weak when...” Write down whatever comes tomind—all those different thoughts and ideas thatcome to you will help you feel stronger, happier, andmore confident. Then, when you tap into yourstrengths you will be more than “jazzed” because youwill be opening your mind to the parts of yourself 59
  • 60. you never knew you had. Allow me to give you a fewexamples from my own life: I feel weak when Im doing math. I feel weak when Im in front of a computer. I feel weak when giving a canned speech.5. Now finish the sentence, “I loathed it when...” andremember to write down whatever comes to yourmind. I promise, if you allow yourself to answerhonestly, you will see incredible results. Buckinghamhas changed millions of peoples lives as a result ofhis book, Go Put Your Strengths to Work, where thisexercise originated.Tennis Lessons I am a long time tennis player. I started 60
  • 61. playing when I was fourteen years old and, thirtyfour years later, at the age of forty eight, Im stillplaying. I found out that I had a natural talent for thesport—a mind and body that excels at tennis—at ayoung age. I was quick, I had fat hands, and I wasfocused enough to keep my eye on the ball. Plus, Iliked the independence and freedom I felt whileplaying tennis and, over the years, I have developedmy tennis knowledge with coaches, camps, andtournaments. As a result, I became a skillful tennisplayer. Within two years of aiming to leap from thebottom rung of the tennis ladder, I won the Texasstate doubles championship. That was the firstexperience in my life where I felt like a winner. It wasa momentous success but it was also the product ofhard work and quite a few losses, all the whilelearning and practicing for hours. In thesummertime, I spent nine hours a day hitting balls 61
  • 62. on a ball machine while my friends were swimmingand having a good time in the pool next to the tenniscourts. I was there by myself, but I was determined,and I felt strong. So, I set goals that tennis would paymy way through college and—it did! (Though, mymom and dad paid for the coaching lessons and tookme to tournaments, so I credit their support ashaving paid for my college education.) Tennis hasbeen an incredible gift of pleasure and exercise forthirty four years of my life. Im on a tennis team, Istill compete in tournaments, and my son and I playfather/son doubles—in fact, we were the #1father/son doubles team in Texas two years in a row.Whats the point? I feel strong when Im playingtennis. And you probably have something in your lifelike that. It may not be a sport. It could be music, art,technology—something that makes you feel strong.Identifying what makes you feel strong is vital to 62
  • 63. your success. On the other hand, I feel very weakwhen it comes to technology. I feel literally weakplaying computer games or video games while mywife is wonderful—shell tell you that shes theworlds greatest “Words With Friends” player (Imsure shed gladly challenge you to a game any day)and she challenges me to play all the time. I say,“Honey, I dont want to play because I dont want tohurt your feelings when I beat you.” Yeah, right. Thetruth is, I dont want to sit in front of the computerscreen playing a video game because it drains me. Itsa weakness—Im not successful at it. My son used tobeat me all the time when we would play videogames. I would play and he would pound me—everytime! So, of course, youre not likely to walk into myhouse and see me with a controller in my hand. Imterrible. I suck! We all have something in our livesthat is a weakness. Sure, I could go get lessons, read 63
  • 64. books, learn how to try to beat my son. But I dontwant to. So I dont! Simple as that. Let me tell you something that will set youfree—its okay. Let it go. Let your weaknesses go.Turn the best of your life into the most of your life.Thats what discovering your strengths is all about.Instead of trying to whittle down your weak spots,strengths-based living is about focusing on yourtalents and designing your life accordingly—structuring your relationships with your kids, yourspouse, your friends, and your extended familyaround your strengths and planning your free timearound personally enjoying your strengths, too. Itsthe most exciting, meaningful, purposeful thing thatany of us can do—to discover and live in ourstrengths zone. 64
  • 65. Chapter 3Creating Momentum “Enthusiasm is the energy and force that builds literal momentum of the human soul and mind.” Bryant H. McGill How do we free our strengths and stop ourweaknesses? Marcus Buckingham addresses this inGo Put Your Strengths to Work and suggests twoacronyms that will quickly help you generate successand minimize distractions—FREE and STOP. 65
  • 66. F – FocusAsk yourself these questions about each of yourstrengths: How does this strength help me and others? When do I use this strength at work? How often do I use this strength?What daily activities allow me to use this strength? Am I using this strength as much as I would like? Have I received feedback on this strength? R – Release Releasing is about freeing a strength in areaswhere it is not being used. To release a strength, askyourself: 66
  • 67. What new situations can I put myself in to use my strength more often?Can I change my work schedule to use my strength more? (Or, could I talk to a supervisor or my colleagues to utilize my strength more at work?)How can I track how much Im using my strength? E – Educate Remember, a strength is an area where youhave the greatest potential to learn and to grow.Learning new skills and techniques will help you freeyour strength. Ask yourself: Are there certain skills—communication skills, presentation skills, negotiation skills—that I could 67
  • 68. improve through learning? What kinds of actions should I take to learn more about my particular strength?Are there classes or courses I could take to enhance my knowledge in this area? Do I know someone with the same strength? The educate part of the acronym is aboutfinding opportunities to learn and teach yourself,building your catalog of techniques for expressingyour strengths. When talking to others with similarstrengths, discuss what they did to educatethemselves, acquire more knowledge, and developskills. Speaking with a mentor or coach is a fantasticway to educate yourself about your particularstrength. 68
  • 69. E – Expand Expanding is about building your life aroundyour strengths. I created a success script for myself—a narrative with names and affirmations for my topfive strengths. I wrote this narrative to help meaccomplish goals in every area of my life. Thequestion to ask yourself when writing a narrative ofyour own is, “How can I expand my life around mystrengths?” DISCOVERY QUESTIONS º 1. What new situation can I put myself in—this week—to release an underused strength? 2. How can I track my strength over the next ten 69
  • 70. minutes? The next hour? Day? Week? Month?3. Do any of my strengths have “weak” points that I can develop with education?Stop Your Weaknesses Many times, people tell me, “I have so manyweaknesses that I cant see my strengths,” andtheyre not alone. We all have weaknesses. Were notperfect. We dont have every tool in the toolbox. So,how do we deal with our weaknesses? How do westop wasting our time on our weak areas? With theacronym STOP. 70
  • 71. S – Stop Quit doing this activity. Sure, there are someactivities where we have weaknesses that we stillmust accomplish. In my case, one weakness I have isbalancing the checkbook. My partner is great atbalancing the checkbook, making it easy to negotiate,asking her, “Would you be willing to balance thecheckbook?” The S in STOP is about looking for ways tostop doing activities associated with your weakness.At work, you can ask your supervisor about areas inwhich you are weak that can be taken out of your jobdescription. Of course, its a bit easier when you workfor yourself or run your own business. But, even bigbusiness is turning towards strengths psychology. Ifyou feel locked into certain activities that are holding 71
  • 72. you back, remember—it doesnt hurt to ask. Or, consider looking for alternative ways tostop doing a particular activity. For example, I hatetrimming weeds. It zaps me—I loathe starting andstopping and pulling out the line. So, I stopped it. Idont work on the weeds anymore. Instead, Ive hiredsomeone else do my lawn maintenance for me everytwo weeks. I am going to challenge you to find aweakness in your life that you are putting pressureon yourself to focus on and free yourself from it. Stopspending time on that weakness! T – Team UpAsk yourself: Who could I partner with that has this strength? 72
  • 73. Who on my work team would be willing to utilize their strength to help stop my weakness?Who could teach me how to deal with my particular weakness? O – Offer Up a Strength In other words, volunteer and steer your lifetowards your strengths. Ask yourself: Which of my strengths could I use to get activities done more easily?How can I use my strengths to create a new role for myself at work or my volunteer organization? How can I offer up my strengths at home or in my personal relationships? 73
  • 74. Offering up your strengths will steer you away fromyour weaknesses. P – Perceive Tackle your weakness with your strengths byshifting your perspective. I have one particular clientwho doesnt have great relationship skills and it isdifficult for him to communicate with his wife.However, he is a Learner—he loves to educatehimself. So, I challenged him, “How could you useyour Learner strength to acquire more social skillslike empathy—to learn how to relate to your spouse?”The light bulb went off in his head: “Its aboutturning on a strength in an area where Im weak so I 74
  • 75. can learn.” hat about you? How can you shift yourperspective and use your strengths to tackle yourweaknesses? For example, those with the strength ofHarmony love to keep the peace and are alwayslooking for opportunities to diffuse conflict becauseit is difficult and uncomfortable for them. Iencourage those with the Harmony strength to lookfor other strengths that can help them cope withconflict, like the Communication strength. The key isto perceive your “old” strengths in new ways! I wasdoing marriage counseling with a couple and the wifehad the strength of Individualization—the ability tolisten to other people, understand their one-of-a-kind stories, and adapt the way you relate to thembased on their unique qualities. My client was afantastic nurse because of her Individualizationstrength, but felt baffled by how she couldnt seem tofigure out how to relate to her husband. I challenged 75
  • 76. her, “How can you use your Individualizationstrength to deal with the lack of connection you feelwith your husband?” I could see the light bulbs goingoff in her head. Suddenly, she realized that she coulduse her ability to relate and get along with extremelydifficult patients in difficult situations with herhusband.Nine Steps to Strengthen Your Strengths 1. Write It Down On a piece of paper, write down your strengthand its order in your top five as well as the basicdefinition of the strength from the StrengthFinder2.0 or your personalized report. Allow me to sharemy #4 strength—Command. The definition of 76
  • 77. Command is the ability to take charge. 2. Highlight What Resonates Read the chapter in the StrengthsFinder 2.0on your strength. Underline or highlight the threemost important phrases that help you connect to thisstrength—the three words, phrases, or sentences thatresonate with you. (The parts when you say, “Thatsme, thats me! Yes!”) When I read the chapter onCommand, I had a pen in my hand, ready to markthe phrases I most associated with myself. Break bottlenecks and create momentum.Yup. When theres a bottleneck in a relationship or atense meeting, I can always help break it. I have the ability to take charge and create momentum. 77
  • 78. Defend the cause in the face of resistance.I like to take up for the underdog. When someone isputting others down, I tend to speak up, even if there is resistance. Confrontation is the first step to resolution. Im not afraid of confrontation—I see it as an inevitable part of life. And I also know that dealing with conflict is the first step to finding solutions, resolution, and connection. 3. Go Back to Your Roots Ask yourself, “How did I develop myknowledge and skills related to this strength?” Goback to your childhood—elementary school, junior 78
  • 79. high, high school. What were the experiences in yourlife that caused you to develop this strength? Howdid you start gaining more knowledge andinformation about this strength? In my own life, I was a natural risk taker fromthe day I was born. If there was a rope hanging off atree over a lake and my friends dared me to take aswinging leap, I would do it. I was the daredevil whowould take charge and be the first one to dosomething, even if others were afraid to do it. I alsoremember playing football in elementary school andjunior high. I was middle linebacker and I was theperson who loved to tackle and hit hard. Mynickname was “Headhunter” because I loved to findsomebody in my way and hit the heck out of them—thats what football is about. Even on the pee weefootball team, I demonstrated the takecharge/captain strength. And when people in school 79
  • 80. were bullied, I was there to defend them, eitherverbally or physically. I was willing to stand up to thebully and say, “This isnt fair, dude. You cant pick onthis guy like this.” I was the defender, which carriedover into my days as a youth pastor and a seniorpastor of two different churches. (Spirituality andFaith is my first strength on the VIA survey.) I havealways seen myself as a defender of the church.When people told me, “I dont believe in that” or“That sounds kind of silly/strange,” I speak up forGod! When going back to your roots, dont forget toask this question: What people have had the greatest impact on my life? A parent, a teacher, a friend, a coach? Ive traced the Command strength all the waythrough my family tree. Lieutenant Presley 80
  • 81. OBannon, my great great great grandfather, wascalled the Valiant Virginian and theres even a bookwritten about his feats. As captain, he was the firstmarine on the shores of Tripoli. He organized a crewthat went to Africa, marched across the desert,overcame the enemy, freed the slaves and hostages,and brought everyone back home. He was awardedthe Mameluke sword, deemed the OBannon sword.Sure enough, Command is in my blood. LieutenantPresley OBannon was a courageous fighter anddefender, who later used his “take charge” strengthto help lead a state. Ive got some pretty big shoes tofill! Now its your turn. Go back into your life andstart exploring. Look at it as a fun journey of learninghow you developed each of your strengths. 81
  • 82. 4. Connect With Others Ask yourself, “How does this strength help meand other people?” In my life, the Command strengthhelps me to face and resolve conflicts. When I haveconflicts with my wife, my family, my friends, or evena client or customer, this strength gives me theability to resolve conflicts instead of avoiding them,stuffing them, or letting them turn into resentment.Im not a resentful person because I deal withconflicts upfront. The Command strength also helpsme to ask the questions that no one else is braveenough to ask. My clients commonly say, “Wow,thats a great question—I never thought about it likethat.” People with the Command strength canverbalize a sensitive question, instead of onlythinking about it. Additionally, the Command 82
  • 83. strength helps me to speak in front of people. Peoplewith Command have a charismatic, “take charge”presence. I come alive in front of large groups. Thatsthe strength of Command. And, in my line of work, ithelps to have a charismatic presence that rallies andinspires people. 5. Play Devils Advocate Ask yourself, “If I were to overuse thisstrength, how would it hurt me or the progress ofother people?” It didnt take long for me to realizethat people with the Command strength canfrequently insert their feet in their mouths. I canteven count the times in my life when I have saidsomething and my wife—or whoever was in mypresence—has looked at me and said, “Really?!? You 83
  • 84. just said that?” They are embarrassed and I amembarrassed—a great lesson teaching me to becareful with my tongue. Because of my propensity totell it like it is, sometimes I hurt peoples feelings. If Ioveruse my strength, I come across as pushy andintimidating. And, as a Commander, I often havedaring ideas that, in a group setting, are not alwaysappreciated. Perhaps, in a one-on-one situation withmore trust and confidentiality, the idea might bebetter received. But, I have to be careful in groupsettings not to overpower or intimidate other people.I must humble myself and admit my weaknessesinstead of coming across like Gods gift to theuniverse. I have my own struggles, my own trials, myown challenges, just like any other human being.And this is one of them—tempering my Commandstrength so I am not pushy or intimidating. 84
  • 85. 6. Check Your Speed Envision the speedometer on your car. Howmany MPH are you using your strength? 0-40 islow—you are barely using this strength. 80-120 ishigh—you may be using this strength too much.(Thats what gets you pulled over and given a ticket.Watch out for fines and other problems.) Theoptimum speed for using your strength is somewherebetween 40 and 80 miles per hour. Sometimes weneed to speed up our strength and, other times weneed take our foot off the pedal because were drivingtoo fast. Its all about balance. 7. Take Action Figure out the action steps you need to take to 85
  • 86. better utilize your strength. Look to yourStrengthsFinder 2.0 report for ten different ideas forputting your strength into practice. When I took theassessment, I discovered that one suggested actionfor people with the Command strength is to step upand break bottlenecks. Another of my action items isto take charge in a crisis when people look to strongleadership for help—one of my fortes. Another actionitem for Commanders is to lead a committee. As Iwrite this, I am the the president of my localBusiness Network International group, and Ifacilitate the meeting, which is a gift. By the way, recognizing strengths doesntautomatically make you cocky. It producesconfidence—the ability to recognize your strengthsand weaknesses. Confidence is not synonymous withflaunting your strengths or hurting other people withthem—that is cocky.) The two main ways I have put 86
  • 87. my Command strengths into action are: Dealing with conflict and seizing opportunities to speak plainly and directly about sensitive subjects 8. Make a Motto Write a motto, a word, a phrase, that helpsyou remember what this strength represents to you. Ihave several mottos for the Command strength. I callit the “Fighting Irish” because Im an Irishman andwas born on St. Patricks Day. I also call it“Braveheart,” “Dynamo,” and “Take Charge.” One ofmy favorite passages of scripture from the Bible isProverbs 28:1—“the righteous are as bold as a lion.”To me, this scripture encapsulates the Commandstrength. Being bold as a lion 87
  • 88. 9. Affirm It Create a strength affirmation. My dailyaffirmation—the one I have recorded on my iPhone,despite my dislike for technology—is, “I am breakingbottlenecks and creating momentum with myCommand strength.” Affirmations help us change theunconscious aspects of our lives. Our subconscious islike an iceberg. Eighty five to ninety percent of aniceberg is below the surface. Only ten to fifteenpercent is above the surface—our conscious self. Ourconscious self can write down goals, focus onactivities, and accomplish objectives—it is the part ofourselves that we can easily modify or change. Thepart that most of dont work on/change is theunconscious—the dominant part of our thoughts,feelings, and actions. 88
  • 89. The Six Ps of Strengths Affirmations Daily affirmations are powerful tools forchanging the subconscious—the part of ourselvesthat goes deeper than the surface. When writing yourstrengths affirmations, remember the six Ps: Personal — Present Tense — Positive Precise — Purposeful — Passionate First, your affirmation needs to be personal.Start with your name or “I am...” Second, keep youraffirmation in the present tense, instead of usingwords like “maybe,” “someday,” or “might happen.”Your affirmation is already happening. Next, staypositive and focus on what you want instead of what 89
  • 90. you dont want. For example, if you want to stay fitduring the holidays, dont write an affirmationfocused on not gaining those twenty pounds overChristmas. Stay positive: “I am my ideal weight atChristmas.” Along with positivity, you want to be precise.Keep your affirmation short and sweet. Make it aquick sentence that is easy to remember while alsokeeping it it purposeful. Include an “ing” like “I ambreaking bottlenecks and creating momentum withmy Command strength.” Finally, you want it to bepassionate. Include a word that resonates with you.For me, those words are momentum, creating, andbreaking. I like breaking bottlenecks. Break it up. Lets create momentum. Lets go. Let me tell you about one of my clients, a 90
  • 91. teenager with very little confidence and a big love forice skating. Her goal was to skate with Disney on Ice,so I helped her to create an affirmation: “I amskating with Disney on Ice.” Every time she said thataffirmation, she worked on shifting her mindset andmaking her words a reality. Miraculously, she onlyhad to say her affirmation for one week beforeattending a Disney on Ice program in Dallas andreceiving a personal invitation from the professionalsskaters to get out on the ice and skate with them. As Iwrite this, she is getting ready to join them—now herteammates—on tour! After a week of saying heraffirmation! And thats what Im asking you to do.For each of your strengths, write an affirmation.Here are the affirmations I wrote for my top fivestrengths: 91
  • 92. FocusBrent is flowing in strong Focus and is naturally keeping his eye on living Gods purpose. Individualization Brent is easily engaging, empathizing, connecting, and relating to people with his Individualization strength. AchievingBrent is Achieving big dreams with outrageous success. CommandBrent is a highly paid, well respected, in demand speaker for his Command strength. Competition Brent is enjoying his Competition strength, exercising daily, and doing yoga weekly with wife Rhonda. 92
  • 93. Now try it yourself! Start creating a life ofmomentum. 93
  • 94. Chapter 4Starting Your Journey“Our inner strengths cannot be lost, destroyed, or taken away. Each person has an inborn worth and contribution to the human community.” Mark Twain Imagine dog sledding in Canada for the veryfirst time. Youre holding onto the back of your sledfor dear life as you whip around steep curves atlightning speed. Up ahead of you is a sharp turn andyou notice that your sled is teetering on the edge ofthe mountain. You are riding the thin line betweenfalling off the mountain and creating momentum 94
  • 95. behind your dogs. This was my wife and myexperience when we went to Canmore, Canada a fewyears ago. We had a dog sledding adventure—a firstfor both of us. (I highly recommend it as a couples orfamily experience.) Dog sledding in Canada taught usso many things about leadership, teamwork, andstrengths. On our trip, we met a young man namedJereme, who I call “the dog whisperer” because of hisexpert knowledge of his dogs and how tocommunicate with them. He was our guide and hetook the time to teach my wife and I all about histeam. Lead Dogs “Follow me, Brent.” He said commandinglyand Rhonda and I did just that as Jereme led us to 95
  • 96. meet the first two dogs on the team. “These are mylead dogs,” he explained to us, “Lead dogs are notnecessarily the smartest, and theyre not necessarilythe fastest, but theyre the best listeners, and theyfollow commands well.” Jereme emphasized that itwas important to know your lead dogs so you couldcommunicate with them frequently. After all, theyare the leaders of their team. The other dogs respectthem and follow them because of their leadershipstrength. Point Dogs Jereme pointed to the next two dogs directlybehind the lead dogs. “These are the point dogs. Thepoint dogs are the dogs that dont have quite theexperience they need, but they have skills and the 96
  • 97. talents, and are in line behind the lead dogs. Theyhelp steer the direction of the team towards the leaddogs.” Basically, point dogs have the abilities, butthey dont quite have the respect of the team just yet.Eventually, as Jereme told us, the point dogs willsucceed the lead dogs. Swing Dogs “Its very interesting,” Jereme said about thenext two dogs. “You take an old dog and a young dog,pair them together, and you have swing dogs.” Theolder dogs have been around the mountains formany years, trekked endless trails, and accrued theirshare of bumps and bruises along the way. Of course,they have lost a bit of their zest, their energy, theirpep. But then you pair this older dog with a younger 97
  • 98. dog who has loads of enthusiasm, energy, and abilitybut lacks experience and wisdom and they influenceand bring out the best in each other so that the teamaccomplishes its goal. Wheel Dogs “These are the biggest dogs,” Jereme pointed,“and theyre called wheel dogs.” The wheels dogs aredrama-free. Easily the strongest dogs on the team,they love to pull, they love to work, and they love todo their job. The Driver Then, Jereme took us to the sled. “This wherethe driver stands.” He pointed. The driver, we 98
  • 99. learned, is like the CEO, the chief executive officer.He or she drives the operation from the back of thesled.The Four Domains of Leadership During our dog sledding adventure withJereme, I couldnt help but think about the fourdomains of leadership, each containing a sampling ofthe thirty four strengths as determined by GallupPolls. Lead dogs in dog sledding are not so differentfrom what Gallup calls executing leaders. Point dogs,like those of us in positions of strategic leadership,are the thinkers, the heady intellectuals who tend tostrategize and point us towards the future while theswing dogs fall into influencing domain. These arethe leaders who use their strengths to influence and 99
  • 100. sell. The wheel dogs have relationship strengths.They are the people adept at winning others over,relating with others, and showing empathy and love. THE LEAD DOG ºTake a look at the dog in the picture. What do younotice about him? I see the focus in his eyes, thealertness in the ears, the confidence in his face. This 100
  • 101. dog is all about business. He might even be a littleintimidating. Indeed, the lead dog on my team inCanada looked pretty ferocious—a good word todescribe executing strengths. Those with executingstrengths catch ideas and make them happen. Thesepeople are strong at getting the job done and lessconcerned with pleasing or getting along with people.Remember, any strength, if overused, can hinderyour success. The nine executing strengths are: Achiever Arranger Belief Consistency Deliberative Focus Responsibility Restorative 101
  • 102. The Nine Executing Strengths Achiever The Gallup Poll shares that any person whohas the Achiever strength is driven for achievement.When an Achiever wakes up in the morning, theystart at zero, and its as if they try to accrue as manypoints throughout the day as they can. Achievers areearly risers and night owls. They have a divinerestlessness that pushes them to improve anythingthey put their hands on. They like to be busy. Theylike to be moving. They like to have projects. Everyday is about climbing a mountain and getting to thenext great peak. (But, Achievers also suffer a whisperof discontent. Theyre always on the hunt for the nextbig thing.) Achievers have an incredible stamina to 102
  • 103. work hard. This stamina is not limited to work, itextends to weekends and vacations, as well. Notsurprisingly, Achievers love certifications. They loveto know that they have finished something, achievedsomething, and as soon as they finish one thing, theyare onto the next. They love new initiatives. Theylove new projects. One thing Achievers must be waryof is not working so hard that they forget to celebratetheir successes or to balance their personal andprofessional lives. Also, Achievers must watch out forskimping on quality and consistency as they race tothe next project. Achievers want to win. They fuelsuccess. But they also should take care to apply thisstrength to their personal lives, not only theircareers. I have the Achiever strength and, one way inwhich I have applied this strength to my personal lifeis in my marriage. In my family, literally everyone isdivorced. I grew up dreaming that I would be the 103
  • 104. first person to have a happy, long-term, consummatemarriage. The Achiever strength helps me do that.Achievers must remember to utilize this strength,not only in their professional lives, but inrelationships with their spouse and kids, as well aswith their health and personal development. REVIEWING THE ACHIEVER STRENGTH º DRIVEN TO ACHIEVE DIVINE RESTLESSNESS STAMINA TO WORK HARDER LIKES CERTIFICATIONS INSPIRED BY NEW PROJECTS FOCUSED ON QUALITY 104
  • 105. Arranger The Arranger is like the conductor of asymphony. They can manage and organize all of thepeople and variables in a project. They are flexibleand, many times, make great multi-taskers.Arrangers can look at a complex situation, a complexproblem, or a complex team and arrange it—find theperfect configuration—which makes them greatleaders. Many NFL coaches have the Arrangertalent—the ability to create a winning team andcoaching staff. If you are looking for someone toorganize and develop a team, an Arranger is just theperson to do it. And Arrangers love big events, too.They can easily and efficiently organize meetings,conferences, or, on the personal side, their spousesfortieth birthday party. The Arranger will invite 105
  • 106. everyone, cater the meal, and make sure that eachguest has a role in the party. Arrangers have theunique ability to use all kinds of resources at once. Arrangers struggle with a difficulty incommunicating why they have chosen a particularconfiguration. They work well when they partnerwith someone who can help them communicate ideasand explain decisions. Arrangers thrive withdeadlines—they need them to stay on track. As abenefit to others, timelines assure that the Arrangerwill not become overwhelmed by details. Arrangersare not big fans of routine—they like the excitementof complex projects, so they often overlook activitiesthat are simple or routine. Because this can be ahindrance, Arrangers should work to balance theirstrengths, perhaps with a strength partner. 106
  • 107. REVIEWING THE ARRANGER STRENGTH º CONDUCTOR OF A SYMPHONY MANAGER OF ALL VARIABLES EFFECTIVE FLEXIBILITY SEEKING THE PERFECT CONFIGURATION BIG EVENT ORGANIZER RESOURCEFUL BORED WITH ROUTINE Belief People who have the strength of Belief possessstrong core values and are often considered“traditional.” Those with the Belief strength can bevery spiritual or religious, family-oriented, andtypically have a strong sense of ethics and integritywith characteristics of dependability and 107
  • 108. trustworthiness. In my coaching experience, people with Belieftend to come from a spiritual background, and thoseprinciples, ethics, and strategies are woven into theirdaily lives. This is not to say that people with theBelief strength are automatically spiritual. Forexample, people with a background in Boy or GirlScouts have been taught the importance of integrityand the traditional values of being on time andprepared. People with Belief often feel that theirwork must be in line with their core values andbeliefs. If you try to put a person with the Beliefstrength into a work environment and their corevalues do not match that of the company, you have adisaster waiting to happen. On the other hand,people with the strength of Belief can help otherpeople on the team to find more meaning in theirwork. Believers are strong at helping others touch 108
  • 109. with their values and the importance of making adifference in the work world. People with Belief benefit from having theirown life purpose statement. A purpose statementhelps people with Belief navigate their world andstay on course—like a compass. A purpose statementalso helps other team members understand theirleaders belief system. Its important to realize thatpeople with Belief are not typically motivated bymoney or prestige—they are motivated by making adifference in the world. They are motivated by thecore values that steer their lives, whether it isworking with breast cancer, going green, orparticipating at their church, temple, or mosque.However, those with the Belief strength are notalways verbal about their beliefs. This depends ontheir other strengths. If they are an Influencer, theymay enjoy sharing and communicating their values. 109
  • 110. However, some Believers are very private andoftentimes, learning how to communicate and shareones voice without being judgmental is an importantcomponent of developing this strength. People withBelief may appear to be rigid or intolerant of otherpeople who have different belief systems. Thus,individuals with the Belief strength should watch outfor appearing critical or judgmental of people withdifferent values. REVIEWING THE BELIEF STRENGTH º STRONG CORE VALUES FAMILY-ORIENTED SPIRITUAL/HIGH ETHICS DEPENDABLE/TRUSTWORTHY NOT FOCUSED ON PRESTIGE 110
  • 111. Consistency A person with the strength of Consistencybelieves life balance is a must. Beyond that, peoplewith Consistency treat others equally—they do notrecognize Prima Donnas or the idea that one personis better than anyone else. Individuals with thestrength of Consistency feel that all people deserverespect and should play by the same rules, whichmeans they usually root for the underdog. Thosewith Consistency want to ensure that everyone on theteam follows a clear set of guidelines. They wantcredit given where its due. A person withConsistency is great at recognizing other peoplesstrengths, celebrating them, and helping build self-esteem and self-confidence. They thrive at buildingteam spirit and rallying a group together—an 111
  • 112. important strength to harness at home or in theworkplace. People with Consistency are strong atleveling the playing field and ensuring that no oneperson is treated better than another. But Consistent individuals must be willing totemper this strength and understand that there is atime and a place for individuality. If you overuseConsistency, you may ignore the needs or differencesof individuals. Leaders with Consistency should keepin mind that different peoples approaches to aproject may vary. Those with Consistency must learnhow to appreciate each persons unique style andfocus on whether the job gets done, not how it isdone. (On the other hand, people with Consistencyexcel at ensuring that organizations followcompliance rules—a task preferred by few.) In a largefamily, a matriarch with Consistency may not have aspecial, unique relationship with each individual 112
  • 113. because of her group-focused mindset. She focuseson making sure that all the kids in the nest are fedand clothed the same—she narrows in onconsistency. REVIEWING THE CONSISTENCY STRENGTH º VALUES BALANCE TREATS OTHERS WITH EQUITY EMPHASIZES CLEAR GUIDELINES ROOTS FOR THE UNDERDOG ALWAYS GIVES DUE CREDIT LEVELS THE PLAYING FIELD STREAMLINES PERFORMANCE MONITORS INTERNAL AFFAIRS 113
  • 114. Deliberative Individuals with the Deliberative strength canappear cautious and careful about decisions and, inrelationships, they may be private and reserved withtheir emotions. Deliberative individuals do not oftengive praise. Instead, Deliberators are focused onpotential risks, problems, and dangers inrelationships, at work, and in the world. Its theDeliberators job to find the mines—they thrive atdecreasing risks that may harm the workplace orother people. People with the Deliberative strengthare very practical in nature and do not think in termsof abstracts, but in concrete, practical terms.Deliberative people are intuitive—their brains pickup all the small details around them and, based onthis data, they intuitively avoid danger. Because they 114
  • 115. like to think twice about decisions and double checkthat people have followed through, Deliberators havea tendency, if they overuse their strength, to micro-manage. And, because they are strong decisionmakers, Deliberative people may be seen asnaysayers. Its important to keep in mind thatDeliberators are not negative for the sake of beingnegative. When a Deliberator perceives danger, theytry to warn the group and encourage others to makewise decisions. Individuals with the Deliberativestrength help us avoid the mine fields that couldpotentially sabotage success and slow us down inrelationships. 115
  • 116. REVIEWING THE DELIBERATIVE STRENGTH º CAREFUL/CAUTIOUS PRIVATE/RESERVED VIEWS LIFE AS A MINEFIELD LOOKS TO DECREASE RISK RIGOROUS THINKER INTUITIVE PRACTICAL Discipline People with the Discipline strength lovestructure and order. Disciplined individuals prefer tohave a plan and they enjoy executing precisestrategies. Individuals with the strength of Disciplinealso tend to desire control. Disciplined peoplefrequently look to control their environment, events 116
  • 117. and activities, and relationships, which can be ahindrance in their pursuit of success. Part of theneed for order, control, structure, and precision isbecause Disciplined people have a great need forproductivity. Their need to maximize productionmakes them big fans of “To Do” lists at work andhome. Disciplined people create systems for howthey organize and file things. They are incrediblyefficient. Individuals with the Discipline strengthmust be careful not to miss moments of spontaneity.As counterintuitive as it seems, Disciplined peoplebenefit from learning how to “structure” spontaneityinto their lives—moments to do nothing, smell theroses, and simply enjoy life. Disciplined people struggle with mistakes andthey can be harsh or demanding with themselves andothers, too. My son, a tennis player with the strengthof Discipline, says, “Pain facilitates change.” 117
  • 118. Disciplined people possess the mentality that paincreates success. Yet, change can be painful forindividuals with the strength of Discipline. Thosewith the Discipline strength need advance notice ofadjustments because their lives are so structured,both personally and professionally. A last minutechange can be difficult and stressful for theDisciplined person. They feel that, in order to besuccessful, they have to follow a routine and make ahabit of order in every aspect of their lives. Ordercomes naturally for Disciplined individuals, whichcan be a helpful strength in a team member. REVIEWING THE DISCIPLINE STRENGTH º VALUES STRUCTURE AND ORDER PRECISION PLANNER FEELS THE NEED FOR CONTROL 118
  • 119. SCHEDULES ENTIRE LIFE CREATES SYSTEMS Focus Focus is my #1 strength. I believe I was bornwith Focus and I cultivated this strength when Istarted playing tennis. (Ive been playing tennis forthirty four years!) I remember one of the firstphrases I was taught as a tennis player: “Keep youreye on the ball.” Thats exactly what a person withFocus does—Focused individuals have the ability toconcentrate on their target and ask themselves eachday, “Where am I headed? Where am I going? Whatis my priority? What is my goal?” Focused individuals also have the ability tofilter out extraneous distractions, which is helpfulwhen they are setting goals for themselves or others. 119
  • 120. Its one of the things I enjoy most as a life andbusiness coach—helping people set goals, not onlyfor their careers or businesses, but for theirmarriages, their relationships, and their lifestyles.People with Focus like to review their goals. Theyenjoy writing purpose statements. Goal-orientedpeople benefit from reviewing their goals daily inorder to finish what they start. For example, Focusedpeople are usually quite adept at summarizing ameeting when ten different people have shared theirthoughts. At the end of the meeting, they can quicklyand succinctly wrap up what the meeting was allabout, as well as assessing appropriates timelines ordeadlines. People with Focus like to prioritize before theyact. And, while they appear to procrastinate, theytend to do what I call incubating. Incubating meanssorting through different information and letting it 120
  • 121. simmer and cook before acting. And people withFocus are very skilled at staying on track with theirstrengths and helping other people to stay on track,too. If a person overuses their Focus, which I havebeen known to do, they can get tunnel vision. Earlyon in my marriage, my wife and I would go to my in-laws and while I was reading a book on some topicthat I was focused on learning, they would oftencomplain, “Brent, you always have your nose in abook!” I had tunnel vision—I was so focused on mygoal that I had to learn how to focus on myrelationships, my family, and my other priorities.Balance is important. People with Focus mayemphasize their career goals and forget to payattention to their relationships with their kids ortheir spouse. Focused individuals must beware oftunnel vision. When interacting with a Focused person, keep 121
  • 122. in mind that they may come across as unsentimentalor unemotional because they are so tenacious andfocused on their goals that they forget othersfeelings. This is not because they want to hurt others,but because the Focus strength makes them zero inon a different goal. REVIEWING THE FOCUS STRENGTH º INTENSE CONCENTRATION HELPS OTHERS SET GOALS PRIORITIZES THEN ACTS STAYS ON TASK UNSENTIMENTAL SUMMARIZES MEETINGS 122
  • 123. Responsibility 2 Janelle is a Realtor, a broker, and one of mycoaching clients. She owns her own company and hasseveral other Realtors who work for her. Oh, andJanelle just had an $8 million dollar year! I believethat Janelles ability to be so successful in the midstof a struggling economy comes from her strength ofresponsibility—the ability to take psychologicalownership, not only in her work, but in her personallife. Janelles inner monologue is, “I need to be therock, I need to be dependable, I need to get it done.”People with Responsibility are very conscientious ofdetails, whether its completing complicatedpaperwork or noticing body language. Responsible2 Janelle graciously gave me permission use her story in this book. 123
  • 124. individuals are also highly ethical and committed tofollowing the rules, not bucking the system. If a Responsible person drops the ball, forgetssomething, or makes a mistake, they will go out oftheir way to make it right. The danger in overusingthe Responsibility strength is feeling guilt over notdoing enough. People with the Responsibilitystrength are chronic volunteers. They struggle to sayno—they feel compelled to volunteer and beresponsible for the sake of the team or someoneimportant to them. Thus, people with Responsibilitymust learn how to balance “yes” and “no.”Responsible individuals should gravitate towardsareas where they can apply their other strengths,instead of saying “yes” to everything. Those withResponsibility should volunteer in their specialty,their niche—excelling and becoming an expert, notwatering down their strengths by doing too much for 124
  • 125. too many people. Responsible individuals riskoverloading themselves or feeling burned out if theyare not able to balance “yes” and “no” and allowother people to take responsibility for their ownmistakes and shortcomings. Research shows thatResponsibility is the first of two strengths thatmanagers love in their employees. And wouldnt youlove to have a spouse that has the strength ofResponsibility? All the bills get paid on time, all thedetails get done. People with the strength ofResponsibility excel in their businesses andrelationships and prove themselves to bedependable. 125
  • 126. REVIEWING THE RESPONSIBILITY STRENGTH º PSYCHOLOGICAL OWNERSHIP DEPENDABLE CONSCIENTIOUS HIGH ETHICS SEEKS JUSTICE FOR OTHERS SKILLED MANAGERS Restorative People with the Restorative strength love tosolve problems. They love to fix things. Restorers areenergized, not defeated, by problems, and they loveto find something that is broken, like a car, andrestore it to its original, pristine condition.Restorative individuals can also take a conceptualproblem—a malfunction in a computer or software 126
  • 127. system, for example—and break that problem downuntil they find a solution. People with the Restorativestrength also love to fix personal problems. Theygravitate towards situations where they canrestore/bring a person “back to life.” Its importantfor the person with the Restorative strength to limitthe problems they fix, choosing the types of problemsthey become experts in, rather than trying to solve allof the worlds practical, conceptual, and personalproblems. An entrepreneur I coached had a marketingand computer company—Geeks for Rent—and heloved going to other business owners who had amarketing or computer program online and findingways to fix the problem. He applied this strength inhis relationships, too, listening to his daughter or hisfriends and paying attention to their body language,observing all of the little details in order to offer 127
  • 128. great solutions and feedback. He did it because hewanted to bring things back to life. Thats what theRestorative strength is all about. I have coachedmany people with the Restorative strength and agreat deal of these individuals have experiencedsome form of tragedy, trauma, or personal failure intheir life. Restorative people possess a grace and lovefor other people—they enjoy helping those who feelbroken and want to nurture, love, and restore thatperson “back to life.” Restorative individuals must remember to usethis strength on themselves, whether its coping witha divorce, an addiction, or another type of personalobstacle. Restorers must be willing to bringthemselves “back to life,” too. People with theRestorative strength can err on the self-critical sidebecause they are so hungry for constant self-improvement and must, therefore, balance this with 128
  • 129. self-care. Restorative folks are good team energizersbecause they are skilled at encouraging other peopleto improve their lives. REVIEWING THE RESTORATIVE STRENGTH º LOVES TO SOLVE PROBLEMS ENERGIZED BY PROBLEMS PRACTICAL CONCEPTUAL PERSONAL BRINGS THINGS BACK TO LIFE KEEN OBSERVER Remember, life is like a dog sled team—itshow we harness our strengths that will help us create 129
  • 130. momentum for outrageous success. And thats mypassion for you—to create momentum for outrageoussuccess, not only in your professional life but in yourpersonal life, as well. 130
  • 131. Chapter 5Getting Strategic “Study strategy over the years and achieve the spirit ofthe warrior. Today is victory over yourself of yesterday.” Miyamoto Musashi In the previous chapter, I told you about mydog sledding trip in the beautiful Rocky Mountainsof Canada and how the four pairs of dogs on a dogsled team coincide with the Gallup Polls fourdomains of leadership: Lead dogs have executing strengths. They catch ideas and make them happen. 131
  • 132. Point dogs have strategic strengths. They have a vision of possibility. Swing dogs have influencing strengths. They sell ideas. Wheel dogs have relationship strengths. They are the glue of the team. Point dogs possess a set of strengths that hasto do with vision and possibility—the domain ofstrategic thinking. THE POINT DOG º 132
  • 133. Take a look at the picture of the point dog. Iwant you to notice several things about this pooch.Start with his eyes. They are introspective, as if thisparticular dog has a lot on his mind. The ears are laidback, unlike the lead dogs, with their executing styleof leadership. This dog is actually looking backwards,taking in information and data. Thats exactly whatthe whole domain of leadership is about. The eightstrategic strengths are: Analytical Context Futuristic Ideation Input Intellection Learner Strategic 133
  • 134. The Eight Strategic Strengths Analytical People with the Analytical strength love tochallenge ideas and they deal largely with facts, notemotions, which can be quite disconcerting forindividuals with different strengths. When trying tocommunicate with or persuade someone whosAnalytical, emotional words and body language willbe ineffective, unless the individual also hasrelationship building strengths. People with adominant Analytical strength see patterns veryeasily—patterns in the universe, patterns in theirwork, patterns in their family, patterns in the worldaround them. They enjoy asking questions in orderto identify patterns and find solutions. In other 134
  • 135. words, Analytical people love to analyze, and oftenthrive in the medical research or databasemanagement fields. One risk with Analytical peopleis paralysis by analysis—over analyzing somethinguntil one is stuck. If an Analytical individual partnerswith someone with the Activator strength, theActivator can help the Analytical person to get going.To empower an Analytical person, show them datathat supports what youre telling them. I wascoaching a couple and the wife asked for helprelating to her husband, an Analytical individual whowasnt very good at showing physical affection. Isuggested to the wife that, instead of expressing howloved she felt when her husband hugged her, that shekeep a journal and write down the exact number ofhugs he gave her within a two week period asconnected to her degree of satisfaction with therelationship. Data talks when it comes to Analytical 135
  • 136. individuals. REVIEWING THE ANALYTICAL STRENGTH º CHALLENGES IDEAS BACKS UP THEORY WITH FACT PRIORITIZES DATA OVER EMOTION SEES PATTERNS LOVES ASKING QUESTIONS GETS PAID TO ANALYZE Context Context is a unique strength in which peoplesbrains looks backwards. Contextual individuals feelthat the present moment is unstable. They feel morealive when looking at history—the history ofmankind, the history of a relationship, the history of 136
  • 137. the individual to whom they are relating. Contextualindividuals relate and devise plans by looking at thepast. I have a couple of different clients with thisparticular strength. One is a therapist who lovesasking questions about where clients grew up andwhat their experiences were. The more she learnsabout a persons history, the more it helps her torelate to the individual in the present. My otherclient is a person who honors the past. He lovesreflecting on his childhood, which he looks upon asthe best, most successful, most enjoyable time in hislife. In fact, he is struggling to adapt to his adult lifeand his mind sometimes fixates on his childhoodbecause its the time when he felt the mostsuccessful. One of the things that we decidedtogether to help him deal with his present reality wasto create a special room—kind of like a “man cave”—in his house. This room is separate from his wife and 137
  • 138. kids, filled with memorabilia and items from hischildhood. He also filled it with items representinghis present interests—historical reenactments ofBonnie and Clyde and the clothes, cars, weapons,and history of the period. His daily time in this roomworking on crafts and hobbies energizes him becausehe surrounds himself with positive history. People who have the strength of Contexttypically love case studies. They enjoying taking areal person or civilization from the past andexploring. If you give them Rome, they want to knowall about it, what caused it to rise and fall, howeverything happened. Then, they take thatinformation and use it to help their business or aperson in need. Contextual people are not “deja vu”people, they are “vuja de” people. “Deja vu” is whenwe take something from the future and its in themoment. But vuja de helps us understand the past 138
  • 139. and how the past affects the future. One of the mostimportant principles to remember about people withthe Context strength is their firm belief that thosewho cannot remember the past are doomed to repeatit. The Contextual individuals mindset is focused onunderstanding the past in order to make the presentand future better. REVIEWING THE CONTEXT STRENGTH º LOOKS BACKWARD FEELS THE PRESENT IS UNSTABLE HAS CONFIDENCE IN HISTORY RELATES THROUGH THE PAST HONORS THE PAST LOVES CASE STUDIES BELIEVES PAST PREDICTS FUTURE 139
  • 140. Futuristic People with the Futuristic strength love tolook across the horizon. As dreamers, they arefascinated and energized by the future. And theyhave great imaginations! I wouldnt be surprised ifGeorge Lucas, the legendary Star Wars inventor andmovie producer, was a Futurist. People with theFuturistic strength are all about possibilities. One ofmy clients is a career coach for teenagers going intocollege and, lucky for them, she has the Futuristicstrength. She is gifted at helping children find theirniche in the career world. Because she is the type ofperson that loves to dream and look to tomorrow,she is an incredible career coach. Other people withthe Futuristic strength are gifted at making 140
  • 141. predictions in business or the stock market. Andfuturistic speakers are individuals whoseimaginations can go “where no man has gonebefore.” Based on that, Futurist individuals cancommunicate and share predictions—you canimagine how this could help entrepreneurs andbusiness leaders beat the competition. Futuristicindividuals are often drawn to the fields of scienceand technology because both fields are alwaysevolving. People with the Futuristic strength need topartner with Activators. Futuristic people can stay“in their head”—not grounded in the moment—andthey need someone with the Activator strength tohelp them follow through with current ideas, goals,and dreams instead of focusing so narrowly on thefuture. Of course, you will never take that away froma person with the Futuristic strength, but it can 141
  • 142. always be balanced. REVIEWING THE FUTURISTIC STRENGTH º LOOKS OVER THE HORIZON FASCINATED BY THE FUTURE DREAMER ENERGIZED BY TOMORROW STUDIES SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY FUTURIST SPEAKER CAREER COACH Ideation I would venture to guess that Donald Trumphas the strength of Ideation. One of the mostsuccessful real estate tycoons and entrepreneurs inthe world, he is fascinated with ideas. He loves 142
  • 143. exploring and explaining concepts. His mind isalways looking for new angles, new perspectives, newviews. He perceives possibilities in ways radicallydifferent from the common person. And hes an ideaguy when it comes to architecture, as well as golf—one of his company split-offs is called DonaldTrumps World of Golf. Donald Trump loves the ideaof golf. But, even more than that, he loves designinggolf courses. And you should see the sparkle in hiseye when he talks about his ideas on how to carve outa beautiful, exciting, challenging golf course in themiddle of the Earth. Hes on a mission to create andchange the world, eighteen holes at a time and itsbecause hes fascinated with all of the angles andperspectives of building a golf course. An interiordesigner I know has the Ideation strength. She talksabout walking into a house, looking at the furnitureand where its placed, and immediately envisioning a 143
  • 144. better design for the room. At night, laying in bed,she thinks about how to design a home and whereeach piece should go. People with the Ideationstrength are easily bored. They need novel ideas andnew topics to think about. Ideators benefit fromhaving a thinking chair—a special place to sit,meditate, and allow ideas to grow. Many times,people with the Ideation strength need to partnerwith someone who has the Analytical strength. Why?Analytical people love to ask questions and pokeholes in ideas. Essentially, Analytical individualschallenge ideas, helping both people to get the bestidea out of the exchange. People with the Ideationstrength are also extremely motivated by researchand development and often excel in this area of thebusiness world. 144
  • 145. REVIEWING THE IDEATION STRENGTH º FASCINATED BY IDEAS ENJOYS NEW PERSPECTIVES CONTRARY ANGLES BORED QUICKLY Input People with the Input strength are likesponges. Their minds soak up, collect, and storeinformation like a sponge soaks up every ounce ofliquid in its path. People with this strength like tocollect quotes, stories, anecdotes, or material items.Whatever an Input person is fascinated with, theylove to collect, and its difficult for them to throwthings away. If you overuse the Input strength, it is 145
  • 146. easy to be a hoarder, either physically or emotionally.Sometimes, individuals with the Input strength feel asense of chaos because they have so many ideas andmaterial things in their home that their mind feelssimilarly cluttered. On an emotional level, forexample, I have coached people with the Inputstrength who have too many irrational or extraneousideas about their husband or wife floating around intheir heads to be able to think clearly about therelationship. This abundance of ideas clutters uptheir mind and gets in the way of enjoying a happy,healthy marriage. On the positive side, a person withthe Input strength loves to ask, “What is my questiontoday?” (One person I know literally asks himself aquestion a day, starting a daily quest to gather all theinformation, data, and ideas related to the questionthat he can.) Not surprisingly, people with the Inputstrength love the Internet—they are huge fans of 146
  • 147. Google—because it gives them access to thousands ofrabbit trails for seeking and searching out all thelatest information. Thus, people with Input are agreat encyclopedia of trivial information and areusually excellent teammates in Trivial Pursuit. But, ifan Input person overuses this strength, they may beseen as a “know it all.” Input individuals must becareful not to spout knowledge, facts, and ideaswithout knowing that the other person wants to hearthe information. To help with this, people with theInput should create systems for storing information,whether its mentally or physically, because the sheerquantity of ideas and information can beoverwhelming. Individuals with Input typicallybenefit from someone who has organizing skills tohelp focus their curiosities into one area, becomingexperts instead of renaissance collectors. Inputindividuals should consider how they can monetize 147
  • 148. their strengths, asking themselves, “How do I turnthis strength into a moneymaker? How can this helpme create a better business? Advance my career?Maximize my family/love life?” The key is findingways for an Input person to use the information theygather instead of allowing it to grow stagnant. Thosewith the Input strength must find avenues to sharetheir information. People with Input make greatlibrarians, researchers, legal assistants, and virtualassistants. REVIEWING THE INPUT STRENGTH º MIND IS A SPONGE COLLECTS AND STORES STRUGGLES TO DISPOSE OF ITEMS LOVES THE INTERNET ASKS A DAILY QUESTION 148
  • 149. Intellection Individuals with Intellection are people wholove mental activity. They are constantly wearingtheir “thinking cap.” Sometimes, these individualscan struggle with focus and Intellection becomes anunderused strength because Intellecters dont knowwhere/how to use it. People with Intellection enjoytime alone. I once spoke with a prisoner of war whotold me that the strength of Intellection helped himwhen he was placed in solitary confinement becausehe was able to make it a celebration of solitude andspent his time reflecting on his life and its many joys. People with the strength of Intellection have aconstant mental hum. They like to let their ideassimmer and perk. Once they let an idea brew,individuals with Intellection are able to produce 149
  • 150. action and results. One of my clients loves to serveon boards in her community. I asked her, “Whatsyour motivation for serving on these boards?” Sheshared that she was intellectually stimulated by theproblems and issues that each board confronted andliked that it caused her brain to think in new ways.People with Intellection want and need their ideas tobe challenged. If you want to connect with a personwith Intellection, play devils advocate. Individualswith Intellection believe that a challenge only createsa better, more complex, more efficient idea. REVIEWING THE INTELLECTION STRENGTH º MENTAL ACTIVITY FOCUS DEPENDS ON STRENGTHS SOMETIMES LACKS FOCUS ENJOYS TIME ALONE 150
  • 151. MENTAL HUM LIKES IDEAS TO BE CHALLENGED Learner People with the Learner strength are notinterested in learning because it offers a certificate ordegree, they simply love the process of learning.Learners want to know about the world and whatmakes it work. Sometimes we call them professionalstudents, because they are perpetually taking classes.Learners just cant get enough of learning newthings. Learners benefit from understanding theirunique learning style. Some people learn moreefficiently by reading or watching something. Otherslearn through experience—an aesthetic approach. Inother words, self-awareness is critical, especially interms of how a Learner learns best. 151
  • 152. Ideally, Learners should track their learningas a means of building self-confidence. BecauseLearners do not learn for the sake of a degree or title,tracking their continuing education units, how manybooks theyve read, how many people theyveinterviewed, all the data that they have discovered,helps build self-esteem. Learners love to adapt—theylove novelty. Theyre the folks that help othersembrace and enjoy change. I know a lovely Learnerwho taught her children to camp when the electricitywent out during a storm. Her children were scaredbecause there was no light except for candles, so theymade a tent and she created a camping experienceinside their home to distract them from the storm. Learners should take advantage of continuingeducation programs at their workplace. If you are aLearner, find out if your employer is willing to payfor your education so you can reach that next level of 152
  • 153. learning and career success. Learners are also goodfriends of technology because technology isconstantly changing. Remember, as with anystrength, it is important for Learners to utilize theirunique abilities in one or two expert areas. Its easyto be a jack of all trades and a master of none.Learners should find one or two areas where theywill shine and maximize and monetize their strength.I have a friend, Latham Shinder, who is a ghostwriterand a Learner. Latham loves to learn, travel,interview people and he is on his way to becomingthe worlds #1 memoir ghostwriter. How has he beenso successful? He has grown his business byharnessing his Learner strength to become an expertin memoir ghostwriting. He loves hearing peoplesstories and learning about their lives and, doing so,has become the expert on creating New York Timesbestseller-ready books for his clients. 153
  • 154. REVIEWING THE LEARNER STRENGTH º LOVES PROCESS OF LEARNING CURIOUS ABOUT THE WORLD LIKES NOVELTY/CHANGE THRIVES AS AN EXPERT MUST TAP INTO PERSONAL STYLE BENEFIT FROM TRACKING LEARNING Strategic People who have the Strategic strength areincredible chess players—surprise, surprise. In fact,most Strategic individuals are bored by checkersbecause there simply arent enough moves. Chessgives Strategists the ability to think ahead and findthe best route—an act that energizes and excites 154
  • 155. them. Though, if you ask a Strategic individual howthey came up with a strategy, many times they canttell you. Thats because strategy comes naturally toStrategists. Strategic individuals are always asking,“What if this or that happens?” They identify all thewhat ifs, select a route, and strike. Strategic thinkerssee around the corner and focus on saving time.Strategists arent interested in extraneousinformation, they want to get to the target. SomeStrategic thinkers are pinned as devils advocates.But most individuals with this strength arent tryingto be defensive or combative—they are simplylooking for the most efficient way to success. The riskof overusing the strength of Strategy is thatindividuals with this strength create strategies forothers but forget to develop a strategy in their ownlives. Thats what I do as a coach. I help people createstrategies, figure out goals, articulate their dreams, 155
  • 156. maximize their relationships and have those “Aha!”moments. Oftentimes, my clients have light bulbs gooff when they realize they are under-utilizing thestrength of strategy in their personal lives. Usingstrategy in your personal life has no bounds. You canuse strategy to become a better tennis player or abetter golfer. The sky is the limit. Strategicindividuals are leaders and idea generators, thoughthey may not be very inspirational unless they alsohave influencing strengths. People with the strengthof strategy should stay on the front end, rather thanthe back end, of projects. Strategic individuals arebored when a project is already completed. At thefront end, Strategic individuals can help to identifypatterns that are otherwise overlooked and, withthese patterns, create a plan—whether its amarketing plan, a speaking plan, or a businessdevelopment plan. 156
  • 157. REVIEWING THE STRATEGIC STRENGTH º FINDS THE BEST ROUTE ASKS “WHAT IF?” SEES, SELECTS, STRIKES LOOKS AROUND THE CORNER STRATEGIZES GOALS LEADS WITH IDEAS IDEALLY ON FRONT END Remember, no strength is better or any worsethan another strength. When used strategically, eachand every strength has the capacity to yield immensesuccess in the possessors life. It is the combinationof all thirty four strengths that creates harmony inthe world. It is why we come together to formfamilies and communities. Allow yourself to create 157
  • 158. momentum for outrageous success by not onlydiscovering, labeling, actualizing, and maximizing,but also monetizing your strengths. DISCOVERY QUESTIONS º 1. Which of the eight strategic strengths do you possess? 2. Which of the eight strategic strengths do you recognize as a weakness? 3. Do any of your family or friends possess one or more of the eight strategic strengths? 158
  • 159. Chapter 6Influencing Success “The road to success is always under construction.” Lily Tomlin Swing dogs, the third pair of dogs coincidingwith Gallups four domains of leadership, haveinfluencing strengths—they sell ideas. Influencingindividuals help teams reach a broader audience.These are the folks that can take charge, speak up,and make sure a group is heard. People withinfluencing strengths have an uncanny ability toinfluence, sell, and persuade. 159
  • 160. THE SWING DOG º Notice that the dog in this picture is different.He looks playful and outgoing, his ears are erect andlistening well—he looks lovable—and his open mouthis similar to those who love to talk, influence,interact, and socialize. The eight influencingstrengths are: 160
  • 161. Activator Command Communication Competition Maximizer Self-Assurance Significance WooThe Eight Influencing Strengths Activator People that have the Activator strength arewhat I call “Just do it” individuals. The Activatorstrength is all about action. Activators believe actionsspeak louder than words. They want to know, “Whenare we going to get going?” A little less talk and a lot 161
  • 162. more action. When Activators have an idea, theydont think about it very long. They are also aestheticlearners and, rather than just reading or listening toideas and theories, they want to practice, they wantto role play, they want to experience it. Activators aregood fits for start-up organizations. They are mosteffective when a project needs momentum to getstarted. People with the Activator strength dontreally follow the “Ready, aim, fire!” approach.Activators are more like “Ready, fire, aim!” Theytend to act spontaneously with very littlepreparation, though they are still extremely practical.I love the story of an Activator, a nun, who had 140acres of land back in the 1970s during the energyshortage. She said, “We need to drill for gas!” Theonly problem was, it cost around $100,000 to evendetermine whether there was gas on the land and if itcould be used legally. So, this bright Activator 162
  • 163. discovered a way to secure $100,000 and, sureenough, they discovered that she had a huge supplyof gas on her land. Sometimes Activators can seem impatient, sothey must ensure that they take the time to buildrelationships with key people instead of trying to runthe show all by themselves. Activators must alsoremember to balance their strengths. If you arealways acting, you will eventually shoot yourself inthe foot. But Activators typically dont mind mistakesbecause they are always learning from theirexperiences. Activators learn from their mistakes inorder to make smart decisions going forward. Pair anActivator with an Analyzer and you can help anAnalyzer avoid paralysis by over-analysis. Activatorsmust recognize that there is a time and a place to actimpulsively, in order to maximize their strength, notoveruse it. 163
  • 164. REVIEWING THE ACTIVATOR STRENGTH º “JUST DO IT” EAGER TO GET GOING BELIEVES ACTIONS TALK KINESTHETIC LEARNERS READY, FIRE, AIM Command A person with the Command strength can takecharge, especially in times of crisis or conflict.Command individuals thrive with clarity and honestyand hate unresolved conflict. They prefer to exposeconflict so it can be dealt with quickly. Commandindividuals ask a lot of questions—the questions noone else has the courage to ask. RememberLieutenant Presley OBannon? One of the founding 164
  • 165. fathers of the Marines awarded the Mameluke swordfor his courage? That Command strength is in myheritage. People with the Command strength areadept at breaking bottlenecks and creatingmomentum. They have the desire to lead and feelenergized by taking charge. They often defend theunderdog—someone who would be otherwisedefenseless. Individuals with Command also love toserve as spokespeople for organizations. If you needstraightforward, honest evaluation of something, asksomeone with the Command strength. Individualswith Command will not try to flatter you withinsincere observations—they will give you theirhonest, straightforward evaluation because theybelieve that honesty is the best policy. Of course,people with the Command strength can overuse it byacting bossy, pushy, intimidating, or opinionated. Itsimportant that people with the Command strength 165
  • 166. partner with individuals who have the strength ofEmpathy. People with Empathy or relator strengthshelp soften the strength of Command, which canotherwise be quite intimidating. Command individuals do have a heart butsometimes they need other people to soften them up.I think its ironic that my wife has four out of fiverelationship strengths—she certainly helps to balancemy Command strength. Dealing with a person whohas the Command strength is somewhat unique. Youmust recognize a Command individuals need to lead.You also must recognize that people with theCommand strength want your honest feedback. Ifthey are hurting the organization or being too pushy,they want to know it and are not intimidated by yourstraightforward feedback. They crave it, they need it,they want it. When a person with the Commandstrength is overpowering you or stepping on your 166
  • 167. toes, you can help them slow down and balance theirpower and presence. Some refer to Commanders as“pit bulls.” But dont you want a pit bull on your sidewhen its time to fight? (If you are going to challengean individual with the Command strength, make sureits a worthy cause because Command individuals aregreat fighters!) REVIEWING THE COMMAND STRENGTH º TAKES CHARGE NEEDS CLARITY AND HONESTY ASKS QUESTIONS STRONG IN CRISIS/CONFLICT CHARISMATIC PRESENCE BREAKS BOTTLENECKS LEADER AND DEFENDER 167
  • 168. Communication People with the Communication strength liketo explain ideas. When Communicators encounter anew idea, they want to express it and bring that ideato life. They also want to entertain and capturepeoples attention. Communicators love finding theright story or the right image to express an idea. TheToastmasters organization helps people developtheir communication and presentation skills. I havebeen a part of Toastmasters for the past ten years. Itis an incredible organization for anyone who wantsto grow their communication and leadership skills. Communicators are often wordsmiths. Theylove vocabulary and like to use dramatic, inspiringwords, making them, not only great speakers,butgreat writers, as well. Communicators know how to 168
  • 169. use words to influence, sell, and open your mind.One way a communicator can maximize theirstrength is to keep a story or quote file. Ive beendoing this for years. When I have a personalexperience that I think is worth sharing, I write it ona three by five card and keep it on file. (Some peoplekeep story or quote files on their computers.)Communicators want and need a sounding board inorder to identify which stories are exciting to otherpeople. Having a sounding board for feedback helpsa communicator hone and refine their storytellingskills. A book for communicators that I absolutelylove is called Money Talks: How to Make a Millionas a Speaker by Alan Weiss. Hes a skilled speakerand communication consultant, and, in his book hetalks about how people with communication andpresentation skills need to have a balance of savvy,steak, and sizzle. 169
  • 170. Savvy Communicators can develop their skills by beingsavvy about what makes a great communicator and creates the best connection with an audience— understanding the ins and outs of the communication world. SteakIn addition to savvy, you also need steak—content.Make sure you are not only entertaining others but offering something of real substance, something “meaty.” (By the way, thats what Strategic individuals are looking for—content.) Sizzle Most communicators are great at finding sizzle—taking that steak and pouring a delicious mushroom sauce on it. My wife is a wonderful, gourmet cook, 170
  • 171. and she creates the best sauces. Last night we had grilled Rosemary chicken and she made this incredible lemon zest cream sauce that made the chicken sizzle, come alive. It was a delight to eatbecause it was so savory and flavorful—thats exactlywhat people with Communication strengths do, theycreate a sizzle that draws you in and makes you want to “taste” more of what they are selling or communicating. Communicators are also highly skilled atconversation. But communicators need to rememberto actively listen and take care not monopolizeconversation by talking in excess. If you are in arelationship with a Communicator, you know theylove storytelling but sometimes one can feel likeshouting, “Would you really listen to what I have tosay?” Good communicators must be conscious of 171
  • 172. this. One should keep in mind that Communicatorsare often willing to communicate on behalf of anorganization or cause for a fee—or free. They areexcellent choices to be company spokespeople andare often willing to speak up for their family orfriends—at no cost. At the same time,Communicators can monetize their strengths bydeveloping their skills as professional speakers. TheNational Speakers Association, like Toastmasters,helps Communicators develop their presentationskills. REVIEWING THE COMMUNICATION STRENGTH º LIKES TO EXPLAIN/EXPRESS BRINGS STORY TO LIFE SHORT ATTENTION SPAN WORDSMITH/SPEAKER/WRITER 172
  • 173. NEEDS A SOUNDING BOARD GREAT CONVERSATIONALIST SPOKESPERSON Competition People with the Competition strength love agood yardstick. And Competitors also thrive whenthey have someone with which to compete.Competition provides a measuring stick formonitoring ones growth. Competitors are forever onthe lookout for someone to compete with—otherpeople who can help them be their best. Individuals with the Competition strengthshould look for mentors—someone who has “beenthere, done that” and can challenge them to continueaccomplishing bigger and better things. Because oftheir love for Competition, individuals with this 173
  • 174. strength tend to gravitate towards the sports arena.Competition is my #5 strength. I grew up playingfootball, tennis, and golf and I can testify to howenergized I feel by a battle or “tug of war” of sorts. Ofcourse, Competition is not limited to sports.Toastmasters, for example, has competitive speakingevents. Every year, individuals go head to head in theworld championship of public speaking. Others findopportunities for competition in the workplace.Currently, I am the president of the BusinessNetwork International. BNI has three teamscompeting against each other for the most businessreferrals, new visitors, and best meeting attendance.And the competitors on these teams absolutely lovethe opportunity. Let me clarify—competitors are notcompetitively inclined so they can show up otherpeople or have bragging rights. Such behavior would 174
  • 175. be an overuse of this strength. Competitors lovecompetition because they believe it facilitatesexcellence in themselves and others. If you have Competitors on your team, takeadvantage of their insights on the strategies you canuse to win and get ahead in your current venture. Ifyou are trying to win over a market in thecommunity, people with the Competition strengthwill look to what other people are doing successfullyand identify the advantage that will allow yourinterest to get ahead. Utilize the competitors on yourteam. They will help you excel. Individuals with theCompetition strength enjoy measuring theirachievements. They like trophies, certificates,medals—recognition. They want to hear, “You win!You succeed!” Without positive feedback, a win isless satisfying for a competitor. However, Individuals with the Competition 175
  • 176. strength often have a difficult time handling a loss ordefeat and tend not to give up. When a competitorloses, he or she will usually do one of two things: 1. Figure out what to do to win 2. Quit and accept that its not a strength area. Seth Godins book, The Dip, is a great read forindividuals with the Competition strength because itexplores when to quit and when to keep going. Godinmaintains that it is important to quit—sometimes—in order not to waste ones time and energy on aweakness. Most Competitors dont have a problemquitting things they are not passionate about andchanging over to something that inspires and excitesthem. Because it is so easy to move from onecompetition to the next, Competitors must learn howto celebrate their wins, which is often where a coach 176
  • 177. steps in. If you have people on your team with theCompetition strength, help them to find the areaswhere they can excel and win. Remember tocelebrate their wins, focusing on what caused themto win, and how they did it. When I coachCompetitors, I love to ask them to tell me about theirsuccesses and victories: “Tell me a story about a bigwin.” Then I focus on what caused the individual tobe a winner in that situation, what strengths,strategies, and skills led them to victory. Thatswhen, many times, the light bulbs go on in theirheads because they have discovered which winningstrategies caused their success. 177
  • 178. REVIEWING THE COMPETITION STRENGTH º ROOTED IN COMPARISON NEEDS A YARDSTICK LOVES OTHER COMPETITORS WANTS TO BE THE BEST LOOKING FOR THE WINNING EDGE LEARNS FROM WINS Maximizer Maximizers are motivated by excellence morethan trying to improve weaknesses. Maximizers arenot interested in problem solving. They want to takesomething good and tweak it until its great. Thatshow Maximizers earned the nickname “pearl divers.”Maximizers dive deep, find a pearl that is alreadydeveloping, and polish it. Then, they mount that 178
  • 179. pearl in a beautiful setting and make it look like amillion bucks. Maximizers can seem discriminatory becausethey dislike spending time with people focused onnegativity. Maximizers want to surround themselveswith people focused on excellence. Thus, Maximizersare not ideally suited to be therapists becausetherapists typically address weaknesses. A coach, onthe other hand, focuses on strengths, makingcoaching a better career fit for a Maximizer.Maximizers are also adept at building teams andhelping people discover and polish their strengths.They make great managers, mentors, and coachesbecause they know how to maximize anorganizations assets. However, Maximizers must becareful not to overuse their strength to the point thatthey deny their own weaknesses or the weaknesses ofthe individuals in their organization. Another 179
  • 180. challenge for Maximizers is discussing painful topics.Recently, I was having a discussion with anindividual with the Maximizer strength about afriend who suffered a heart attack and he interruptedme: “Lets not talk about this anymore. Its too sad.”This individual also happens to be a writer—he lovestweaking and polishing other peoples writing but isnot comfortable discussing inherently negativetopics. Maximizers and individuals with theRestorative strength make great teams because theMaximizer can hand off problems to the restorer.And because Maximizers gravitate towards successand excellence, they usually enjoy metrics, makingthem the perfect partners for individuals with theAnalytical strength who can help develop ameasuring system to allow the Maximizer to rate hisor her excellence. 180
  • 181. REVIEWING THE MAXIMIZER STRENGTH º MOTIVATED BY EXCELLENCE PEARL DIVER REPELLED BY NEGATIVITY DISLIKES PROBLEM SOLVING PREFERS FIXING THINGS FOCUSED ON STRENGTHS Self-Assurance Self-Assurance is a lot like self-confidence.Individuals with the strength of Self-Assurancepossess an “I can do it! I am able!” mindset. Whereasmost people spend their lives wondering if they are“good enough,” the person with the Self-Assurancestrength believes in his or her abilities and isconfident in his or her decisions. As a result of this 181
  • 182. certainty, Self-Assured people are very independent.Instead of second guessing or doubting themselves,individuals with the strength of Self-Assurance oftenquestion other people who disagree with theirprescribed solution. People with the strength of Self-Assurance should be careful not overuse theirstrength, which can make them come across ashaughty and self-righteous. When a persons Self-Assurance is balanced,they can be very influential, almost contagious.Others are drawn to a Self-Assured persons sense ofsecurity. My best friend is extremely self-assured—its one of his top five strengths and he balances itwell. Sure of himself, he has thrown out the rule bookand gone from selling ghostwritten books for $5,000to landing projects for $150,000 a book. And he hasdiscovered that there is no one else who does it quitelike him. He has his own strategy, his own goals, and, 182
  • 183. most impressively, he continues forging aheadwithout ever flinching. Self-Assured individuals run the risk ofbecoming work-a-holics who fail to balance theirrelationships, becoming loners because of theirhyper-independence. Because people with the Self-Assurance strength are always trying to be at the topof the heap, they have to work extra hard not toalienate themselves from others. At the same time,Self-Assured people should be encouraged to setthose ambitious goals, to “go for it,” because theirhigh degree of persistence often results in success.Made to be mentors, individuals with the strength ofSelf-Assurance are excellent sources of stability andinspiration for people who lack self-confidence. Likethe keel of a ship, Self-Assured people driveindividuals and organizations to perform better. 183
  • 184. REVIEWING THE SELF-ASSURANCE STRENGTH º SELF-CONFIDENT ABLE MINDSET LIKES INDEPENDENCE AURA OF CERTAINTY DOESNT SECOND GUESS SELF CONTAGIOUS SPIRIT AMBITIOUS GOAL SETTER Significance One of my clients is a young guy with aBachelors degree in Business and he has thestrength of Significance. Individuals with thisstrength desire recognition and approval. They dontmind the limelight. In fact, they love the thrill of thestage. People with the strength of Significance are 184
  • 185. very goal-oriented. They want to stand out. Theywant a positive reputation. At the same time, thiskeen awareness of what other people think can be ahindrance because the individual with Significancemay fret about what others are thinking instead ofhaving confidence in themselves. Everybody has aneed for significance, a desire to be important, togain approval and recognition of their value in arelationship or organization. People of Significancetend to be big talkers. They have big goals, bigdreams. But they need to make sure that theirperformance—what they are actually living anddoing—matches what comes out of their mouth. Many times, the young man I coach struggleswith the fear of failure. Despite the strength ofSignificance, he suffers from a lack of self-confidence. He worries that he will not live up to hisfather or be as successful as his peers. People of 185
  • 186. Significance often fear that they are not going toachieve as much—be as significant—as someone else.Thus, people of Significance must seek balance. Anindividual with the strength of Significance is the oneto call in those last few seconds of an importantbasketball game. People with the Significancestrength function well when they are “on the line.”They want to be the person kicking the ball, shootingthe basket, making the buzzer, because it gives thema sense of significance. REVIEWING THE SIGNIFICANCE STRENGTH º WANTS TO BE RECOGNIZED SEEKS APPROVAL THRIVES ONSTAGE GOAL-ORIENTED WANTS TO STAND OUT 186
  • 187. FEARS FAILURE AWARE OF OTHERS PERCEPTIONS WooWhat in the world is “Woo”? Winning Others Over People with this strength are vivacious,infectious, caring, gregarious people who love tomeet and greet. Individuals with Woo have nevermet a stranger. Strangers are just friends they haveyet to meet. People with Woo love connecting withnew people. I know a woman with Woo who pridesherself on meeting strangers everywhere she goes.She jokes that when she travels and taxi drivers takeher from the airport to where shes going, they 187
  • 188. always propose at the end of the trip. People with Woo know how to find commonground with others. They will always remember yourname and, oftentimes, they are very humorous, silly,and light-hearted. Never threatening, individualswith Woo have the ability to put you at ease. Otherslove to listen to individuals with Woo, to be close tothem, and people with Woo are often the life of theparty. In a serious meeting, they can break the ice,liven things up, and break down walls with theirlight-hearted humor. However, a relationship riskfactor for many individuals with Woo is theirtendency to move away from long-termrelationships. Woo-ers enjoy the excitement ofmeeting and greeting someone, winning them over,and then moving on. As a result, they can comeacross as insincere because their relationships withpeople lack depth. That makes individuals with Woo 188
  • 189. great matches for people with the Relator strength.Relators are strong at cultivating long-termrelationships while people with Woo are great atmarketing, networking, and putting people at ease. REVIEWING THE WOO STRENGTH º WINNING OTHERS OVER MEETING AND GREETING CONNECTS WITH STRANGERS FINDS COMMON GROUND HUMOROUS LIGHT HEARTED Each of the different influencing strengthsconfer unique ways of selling ideas. In some cases,the strength relates to courage, in others it ishumorous and light-hearted, but all of these 189
  • 190. strengths are vital for a teams success. If influencingstrengths are absent from your top five, dont fret.You can always partner with others and learn fromtheir strengths. DISCOVERY QUESTIONS º 1. Which of the eight influencing strengths do you possess? 2. Which of the eight influencing strengths do you recognize as a weakness? 3. Do any of your family or friends possess one or more of the eight influencing strengths? 190
  • 191. Chapter 7Building Strong Relationships “Success can be built on a strong relationship.” Joshua Micah Marshall Remember the wheel dogs? The pair of dogsat the front of sled adept at relationship building?Wheel dogs are the glue of a sledding team—theyhold everything together without drama. 191
  • 192. THE WHEEL DOG º Take a look at the wheel dog in the picture.Notice the position of her ears. She looksapproachable and unintimidating—her eyes arelooking at you intently, her mouth is open, and itlooks as if she is ready to reach out and lick or nuzzleyou. You can imagine this dog turning onto her backaffectionately, hoping that you will scratch her belly. 192
  • 193. She has a lot in common with individuals whopossess relationship building strengths. The ninerelationship building strengths are: Adaptability Developer Connectedness Empathy Harmony Includer Individualization Positivity Relator 193
  • 194. The Nine Relationship Strengths Adaptability Adapters live in the moment. Veryspontaneous, they prefer to focus on “here and now”rather than thinking long-term. Adapters see life asone choice at a time. People with the strength ofAdaptability tend to be very flexible. When suddendetours happen in their work or family life, theyremain centered, holding onto their sense of calm.This can be soothing and encouraging to otherpeople who react less favorably in the face of suddenchange. My wife has this particular strength andshes an office manager for a cardiologist. Change is 194
  • 195. part of her job description. If someone calls in sickand my wife needs to go in a few hours earlier, shedoes it with a good attitude because Adaptability isone of her top strengths. If a member of her teamwants to hand off a task, my wife doesnt mind. Sheenjoys pitching in and getting things done for thebetterment of the team. Yet, Adapters mustremember that there is a time to be flexible and atime to be firm. If Adapters overuse this strength,they may be so focused on the short-term good thatthey neglect long-term decisions. Others can learnfrom Adapters by seeing the value in spontaneity. Ima structured person, but marrying an adapter hashelped me to appreciate living in the moment and Ienjoy great benefits when I schedule a littlespontaneity into my life. Recently I gave thecommencement speech at Grayson County Collegeand I left a section of the speech unwritten—I opened 195
  • 196. it up so that I could share whatever was in my heartat the moment. Adapters can maximize this strength bypreparing for potential disasters and partnering withan individual with the Focus strength. Works for me!My #1 strength is Focus and one of my wifes topstrengths is Adaptability. Focused individuals helpadapters identify priorities and stay concentrated onthose priorities long-terms. Adapters help focusedindividuals enjoy the moment and “go with the flow.” REVIEWING THE ADAPTABILITY STRENGTH º LIVES IN THE MOMENT MAKES ONE CHOICE AT A TIME FLEXIBLE, CALM, SOOTHING CAN HANDLE CHANGE A GOOD PARTNER WITH FOCUS 196
  • 197. Developer Developers seek potential in everyone, nomatter what the situation, Developers see potential.They believe that people are born with limitlesspossibilities. If our society was full of caterpillars,Developers would believe that each caterpillar coulddevelop, grow wings, and fly to their destination. Developers are talented at helping individualsand teams discover their potential. When aDeveloper helps others, they feel genuinely fulfilled. Ioften recommend to the Developers I coach that theymake a list of people whom they have impacted. Sucha list will inspire a Developer by forcing him or her torecognize how they have empowered others andmade a difference in their lives. After that, Irecommend that the Developer make a list of people 197
  • 198. they want to mentor in order to continue honing thisstrength in the future. Developers can also benefitfrom identifying the mentors and teachers that haveaffected their lives and by showing gratitude for eachof these individuals. At the same time, Developersrun the risk of investing too much time and energy in“lost causes.” In some cases, there are individualsthat simply will not sprout wings and fly, no matterhow long a Developer works with them andchallenges them. Its just not in their geneticmakeup. An earthworm will never be a fat, furrycaterpillar, much less a butterfly. But Developerscant always see this because they are so focused onpossibility. One of the things a Developer can learn ishow to mentor in the moment. Mentorship needntlast a lifetime. Developers can still make a lastingimpact in the moment without over-committing.Developers are great additions to any team because 198
  • 199. they are so adept at recognizing the progress,achievements, and growth of other team members.People with the development strength help keepmorale high because they celebrate development. ButDevelopers must take care not to focus so intently onothers that they ignore their own progress. TheDevelopers own personal development is crucial ifhe or she is to continue helping others to flourish andsucceed. REVIEWING THE DEVELOPER STRENGTH º SEES POTENTIAL IN ALL PEOPLE ALIVE WITH POSSIBILITIES GENUINE HELPS OTHERS DISCOVER POTENTIAL 199
  • 200. Connectedness Individuals with the strength ofConnectedness believe that things happen for areason—and they will tell you that. Connected peopleare convinced that there is a reason for everythingand believe all people, places, and parts of life areconnected. People with the strength of connection oftenprize their sense of faith and purpose. They valuediversity. They are bridge builders—they want to findcommonality. People with Connectedness see othersas inherently interconnected. Theres a story in theStrengthsFinder 2.0 of a psychologist with thestrength of Connectedness who, when he sits downto eat a bowl of cereal in the morning, always seesConnectedness. He sees all of the different people 200
  • 201. that are involved in bringing him his bowl of cereal—the farmers in the field, the biochemist who makesthe pesticides, the warehouse workers in the foodpreparation plants, even the marketing teampersuading him to buy that particular brand. He seeshow everything connects to create his bowl of cereal. People with the Connectedness strength aregreat leaders on an international scale because oftheir desire to unify others, especially whenConnectedness is paired with the strength ofCommunication. When that is missing, connectedindividuals benefit from partnering withCommunicators who can help them explain theirunified vision to their community or team.Individuals with Connectedness are strong teambuilders. Every family, every relationship, everyworkplace needs people with the gift of keepingpeople connected. 201
  • 202. REVIEWING THE CONNECTEDNESS STRENGTH º SEES POTENTIAL IN ALL PEOPLE ALIVE WITH POSSIBILITIES GENUINE HELPS OTHERS DISCOVER POTENTIAL Empathy I call people with Empathy “emotionthermometers.” They have an innate ability to tuneinto the emotional world. And their emotionalthermometers can sense both pleasurable andunpleasant emotions. Individuals with empathy seethe world through other peoples eyes. They may nothave experienced the other persons particular 202
  • 203. problem, crisis, or situation but their imaginationenables them to understand the other nevertheless.People with Empathy give a voice to the emotionalworld. Van Goh said that emotions are the captainsof our lives. What he was trying to say is that,whether you like emotions or not, your life isinfluenced by them. And these emotions are likecaptains. People with Empathy understand VanGohs famous statement and see how emotions guidepeoples lives. People are drawn to Empatheticindividuals. Its my wifes #1 strength and its easy tosee why her friends, our children, even I am drawn toher because of her innate ability to support you andvalidate people emotionally. In the film, The GreenMile—a must-see for one and all—the character JohnCoffey possesses an amazing gift to feel andexperience what is happening in other peopleshearts and minds. When a child in the film is 203
  • 204. murdered, he feels it—weeping over the childs pain,despite not witnessing the event. Once in jail, he feelsthe inner lives of other inmates, good or bad. Itseven been said that people with Empathy can feel thecrowd or the teams heartbeat. They can sensemomentum or stagnancy. They know whats goingon. Other people are drawn to individuals withEmpathy because they feel heard, listened to, andvalidated. It is an empathetic persons gift—theirstrength. Yet, Empathetic people must avoidoverusing this strength and having what some call a“bleeding heart.” Many times, people with Empathytake on the stress and pain of others in their mindsand bodies, leading to burnout because they dontknow how to turn the Empathy off and care forthemselves. Empathetic people also risk enablingothers if they are unable to exercise tough lovebecause of their sense of compassion. Individuals 204
  • 205. with Empathy can sense whats missing on a team oran organization. They are good people to turn to ifyou need help solving a team problem and want toget a sense of what is going on. Last but not least,Empathetic people are great confidants because oftheir ability to keep a secret. Many people feel theycan share anything with an Empathetic person andEmpathetic individuals are skilled at building trust.Empathy is a useful strength in the workplace, notjust in a counseling office. Be sure to utilize theEmpathetic members of your team. REVIEWING THE EMPATHY STRENGTH º EMOTION THERMOMETERS SEES WORLD THROUGH OTHERS EYES GIVES VOICE TO EMOTION CAN FEEL A CROWD 205
  • 206. MUST WATCH OUT FOR BURNOUT GOOD CONFIDANT Harmony People with the Harmony strength look forways to avoid conflict and seek opportunities toagree. They dislike fighting and are interested inkeeping the peace. For that reason, a Harmoniousperson will probably not tell you what they are reallythinking. Individuals with Harmony will hold theirtongue for the sake of agreement because they dontwant to rock the boat. Moreover, they believe firmlyin equality. For people with the Harmony strength,when you hurt someone else, you hurt yourself.Harmonious individuals are practical, especially interms of strategic planning and executing difficulttasks. But, when it comes to theory or opinion, 206
  • 207. Harmonious individuals tend to shy away and focuson concrete ways to connect. Harmoniousindividuals are natural peacemakers. They are adeptat helping team members to understand each otherand get along better. However many times, otherpeople try to take advantage of a person with theHarmony strength because a Harmonious personavoids confrontation and will compromise to makepeace. In order for a Harmonious person to balancetheir strength, they must defend themselves whenthey should, especially if someone else is hurtingthem. For a Harmonious person to learn how to copewith conflict, I recommend various CAREfrontationtechniques. CAREfrontation is a system that Ideveloped to deal with conflict and confrontation ina caring fashion. CAREfrontation teaches people howto connect, resolve, and empower in the face ofconflict. All Harmonious individuals could benefit 207
  • 208. from a boost in their conflict resolution skills. REVIEWING THE HARMONY STRENGTH º LOOKS FOR AGREEMENT DISLIKES CONFLICT PRACTICAL SEES EVERYONE AS SAME PEACEMAKER DOESNT ROCK BOAT Includer People who are Includers love to stretch thecircle wider—its never big enough—because they areadept at being inclusive. Includers dislike thinking ofpeople being left out and often cannot concentrateuntil everyone is included. Not surprisingly, 208
  • 209. Includers are incredibly accepting, non-judgmentalpeople. Individuals with the Includer strength areable to see past a persons flaws and accept themunconditionally. Includers have a tendency to pickup strays. I know an Includer with six adopted pets.Its part of his strength—he doesnt want an animalto be left out in the cold. This applies to people, too.Includers pick up the underdog or the person whomay not have a group or cause. Thus, Includers mustlearn to temper their compassion. There is a limit tohow many pets we can have in our home and howmany people we can have in our lives. Overusing thisstrength can make an Includer feel overwhelmed.Includers are good at supporting those who are newto a group or organization. They can take someoneby the arm and introduce them to everyone.Includers work networking magic—they are alwaysconnecting with others, asking questions, 209
  • 210. introducing people to each other, and letting magichappen. In that vein, people with the Includerstrength are proficient at finding new markets. If youare trying to identify new areas to explore, ask theIncluder. Includers are market savvy. However, onechallenge that Includers face is conflict resolution,making them the perfect partner for someone withthe Command strength, who typically has the abilityto ask tough questions and face conflict head on. Icoached an Includer—a mother who struggled to faceconflict in her home. Up until we coached together,her tendency was to enable her teenager, who hadfound himself in legal trouble. She didnt want toexclude him so he got away with things he shouldnthave. To avoid overusing their strength, Includersmust learn how to set clear boundaries, harnessingthe Command strength. On the positive side,Includers attract others. I once coached a trainer 210
  • 211. who shared that he was able to engage people whowere quiet and withdrawn and walk over, make aconnection, and help that person feel comfortable.Then, he would draw them into the discussion andinclude their opinions and ideas in the group. And,remember, if you can learn to include the Includer,you have won their heart, because thats the heart oftheir strength! REVIEWING THE INCLUDER STRENGTH º STRETCHES THE CIRCLE WIDER HATES EXCLUSION ACCEPTING NON-JUDGMENTAL PICKS UP STRAYS HELPS NEW PEOPLE DRAWS PEOPLE IN 211
  • 212. Individualization Individualization refers to those who love todiscover the uniqueness in others. Individualizersbelieve that each person has his or her own unique,special story. Instead of seeing peoples similarities,Individualizers sees differences—things that makeother people special. Individualization is my #2 strength and ithelps me not only observe peoples strengths, buttheir struggles, too. I remember hearing one personwith Individualization say that, when he startedhearing peoples stories, it was as if balloons poppedup over their heads like cartoon characters. Theballoons tell me whats going on with them, whatthey are thinking, what they are feeling, what they 212
  • 213. want. In a way, people with Individualization have anability to read your mind—whats going on intuitivelyin your life. They are also quite skilled at readingbody language. As people with Individualization getto know your story and your story, they canpersonalize a plan or strategy to get you from point Ato point Z based on your strengths and struggles.Thats exactly what I do when I speak or coachindividuals, couples, and companies. Recently, I wasthe keynote speaker at the Grayson County Collegecommencement and I wanted to personalize myspeaking to that college. I went there on a tennisscholarship for my very first two years of collegebefore I finished my Bachelors and my Masters, so Iweaved tennis and sport metaphors throughout thespeech. In other words, when Im speaking I canindividualize the metaphors to the group orcompany. I was coaching a couple on their top five 213
  • 214. strengths and how to could use these strengths todeepen their marriage. The husband loved golf, so Iused golf metaphors to help him better relate to hiswife. Using that language, I could see the “Aha!”moments on his face. I have done this with race cars,pets, cooking. Someone with Individualization isstrong at personalizing how they treat each person.They are not fans of the one size fits all approach.People with Individualization can use this strength tounite a diverse team and highlight its individualstrengths and struggles to become more effectiveteam.. Individualizers can also help you betterunderstand the dynamics of the personality,thinking, feelings, and behavior of someone thatmight otherwise be difficult to understand.Individualization can be utilized in coaching,mentoring, speaking, teaching, and growing abusiness. 214
  • 215. REVIEWING THE INDIVIDUALIZATION STRENGTH º ONE-OF-A-KIND STORIES OBSERVES STRENGTH FOCUSES ON UNIQUENESS ABLE TO PERSONALIZE TALENTED COACHES TREATS EACH PERSON UNIQUELY Positivity Believe it or not, Positivity is another one ofmy wifes top strengths. Now you know why Imarried her—she has incredible relationshipstrengths! People with Positivity are generous withpraise and love to smile. They are light-hearted,playful, humorous, and theyve got bundles of 215
  • 216. passion, energy, and kindness. But, dont get mewrong—Positive people are not inherently naive—they realize there are crises and challenges in theworld but choose to focus on what is right instead ofwhat is wrong. The strength of Positivity helps themto find the good in all situations. People with the strength of Positivity makespecial events come alive. Birthdays, retirementparties, get togethers of all sorts—Positiveindividuals enjoy creating events where others laugh,connect, share, and feel good about life. As a result,people are drawn to individuals with Positivity.However, people with Positivity should protectthemselves from negaholics or people who see themine fields instead of the flowers in the garden.Individuals with Positivity should avoid negativepeople who could potentially drain their energy. It is important to remember that Positive 216
  • 217. people are not always in a “good mood.” My wife maynot be feeling great—she may have missed a fewhours of sleep and not be in the worlds great mood—but she manages to have a Positive demeanor anddoesnt bring others down despite how she is feeling.If we are dining at a restaurant and my wife isntenjoying the food, she will never say it because shedoesnt want to dampen anyone elses experience.This can be a strength and a hindrance becausePositive people may not open up and share theirhurts, challenges, or stresses, internalizing toughemotions. People with Positivity are not interested inchanging negative people, they prefer other Positivepeople. Throw a Positive person into a room full ofnegative people and they wilt. Throw them into aroom full of Positive people with Positive potentialand the Positive person will find the spark that will 217
  • 218. light their potential on fire. REVIEWING THE POSITIVITY STRENGTH º SMILING GENEROUS WITH PRAISE PASSIONATE AND ENERGETIC FOCUSED ON WHAT IS RIGHT HELPS PEOPLE WITH SPARK Relator You may think of the Relator as someone whonever met a stranger. Nope. Thats Woo—winningothers over. People with Woo believe that eachstranger is a friend they have yet to meet. ButRelators are selective about their relationships. Theytend to be more guarded and cautious when they 218
  • 219. first meet people. Relators may not immediately come across asrelationship-oriented people because their strengthlies in-depth relationships, not shallow connections.Relators are always looking for an excuse to gettogether with their friends or their colleagues.Genuine relationships fuel them. Relators are notinterested in job title, status, “Wow!” They areinterested in their relationship with you. Relators areskilled at building better friendships andrelationships, not only in their families andfriendships but in the workplace, as well. It isimportant for Relators to find and develop deep,trusted friendships in the workplace. The GallupPolls Well Being by Tom Rath demonstrates howpeople enjoy better well being when they have atleast one good friend in the workplace. (And theyfound that most people hate their boss.) So, if you 219
  • 220. have a great relationship with your boss, yoursupervisor, or a deep, trusted friendship at work,count yourself blessed—it will improve your wellbeing. People with the Relator strength have the giftof creating loyal, trusting, sharing relationships thatwill never break. Guess what? My wife has thisstrength, too. We have been married for over twentysix years (and have known each other for twentyeight) and I always say that any woman who put upwith me for twenty eight years has to have somerelationship abilities. I appreciate my wifes loyaltyand her strengths in our relationship. It comes frombeing a Relator. 220
  • 221. REVIEWING THE RELATOR STRENGTH º SELECTIVE IN RELATIONSHIPS GENUINE CAUTIOUS AT FIRST FUELED BY FRIENDS NOT INTERESTED IN STATUS LOYAL AND TRUSTWORTHY DISCOVERY QUESTIONS º1. Which of the nine relationship building strengths do you possess?2. Which of the nine relationship building strengths do you recognize as a weakness? 221
  • 222. 3. Do any of your family or friends possess one or more of the nine relationship building strengths? Remember, relationship strengths are the gluethat holds teams, families, marriages, andfriendships together. 222
  • 223. Chapter 8On the Road With Your Strengths “Success is not a place at which one arrives but rather the spirit with which one undertakes and continues the journey.” Alex Noble When my wife and I stepped on a dog sledand headed into the backwoods of Canada, I have toadmit we were both a bit leery. Though Jereme hadcarefully explained the ins and outs of maneuvering ateam of dogs through Banff’s beautiful terrain, wewere cautious (my wife especially) about putting our 223
  • 224. knowledge into practice. Luckily, as the driver, Itrusted the different dogs on my team, their uniqueroles, and how they could each best help my wife andI reach our destination safe and sound. Discovering your strengths is much likemounting a dog sled for the very first time. By now,you have hopefully taken the StrengthsFinder 2.0assessment and measured your top five strengths.And, as Jereme readied my wife and I for our firstride, I hope I have helped prepare you to start usingthem—familiarizing you with how each of Gallupsthirty four strengths fit together to produce cohesive,efficient teams and happy, functional relationships.Yet, the real test lies in putting your strengths towork—mounting your sled and harnessing each ofthe four domains of leadership to help you achieveyour next goal. I imagine you must feel a bit leery(and excited). 224
  • 225. One of my colleagues and a fellow strengthsambassador has a small sign taped above her deskwhich reads: “Which strengths am I going to usetoday?” Looking at these words each day centers herand helps her maintain a strengths based mindsetbefore setting out on the days “journey.” Now thatyou are aware of your own top five strengths, itstime to ask yourself: How will I harness my strengths each and every day to help me reach my desired destination? Discovering your strengths allows you tobegin accessing and better utilizing your manytalents and team members—the dogs on your sled—so you can best respond to the various challengesthat await you on your route. But if you want tobecome a pro like Jereme, discovering your strengths 225
  • 226. is only the beginning.Harness Your Strengths In my work as a strengths coach, I lead myclients through seven phases of harnessing theirstrengths, which make up the basis of my StrengthsCoaching System: Measure Your Strengths Strengthen Your Mindset Maximize Your Strengths Strengthen Your Management Monetize Your Strengths Strengthen Your Members Mobilize Your Strengths In my next book, Harness Your Strengths, I 226
  • 227. explore each phase of the Strengths Coaching Systemin depth, but to help prepare you for the next phaseof your journey, allow me to introduce you to thebasics of the seven steps: Step #1 - Measure Your Strengths If you are reading this book, you are well onyour way to finishing the first phase of harnessingyour strengths—measuring them—though,measuring your top five strengths with theStrengthsFinder 2.0 is just the tip of the iceberg.Once you have discovered your signature strengths,you can dig even deeper by exploring the wide arrayof supplementary assessments available to help youdiversify and define the language you use for yourstrengths, while also expanding the number ofpractical techniques you can use to put your talents 227
  • 228. into practice. The VIA Survey, for example, measurescharacter strengths, broadening the context in whichyou see and use your signature strengths. See theappendix to this book for a complete list ofsupplementary assessments. Step #2 - Strengthen Your Mindset Strengthening your mindset is all aboutovercoming the fears and limiting beliefs associatedwith harnessing your strengths as you mentallyprepare yourself for your Iditarod. My wife and Iwere certainly anxious before taking our first sledride. We worried about getting hurt, losing control ofthe sled, careening into the snowy wilderness. And,while some of those fears were well founded, theyhad a lot in common with the deficiency or weaknessbased mindset most of us have developed about 228
  • 229. ourselves. So often, when facing a new opportunityor challenge, we prepare for the worst. On theprecipice of closing a sales deal, planning a careermove, or angling for that next big promotion, weassume were going to fly off the sled and land in thesnow. And this I cant, weakness based mindsetpredicts our fate. We lose control of the sled becausewere so focused on what we cant do, instead oftapping into what we can do and finding others tohelp us fill in the gaps. A strengths based mindset, on the other hand,prepares and focuses on what you do best.Remember—a successful sled is led by a team of dogswith different talents. Each individual dog plays avaluable, yet distinct role in every trip. Were thedriver to focus on what each dog cant do or doesntdo well, he or she would have trouble unifying theteam and staying on the trail. To successfully achieve 229
  • 230. your goals, you must mount your own sled withconfidence, knowing which strengths will help youround the next bend, leaving your cant’s and dontsat the lodge. Step #3 - Maximize Your Strengths If a strengths based mindset is the foundationyou need to safely hit the trails with your signaturestrengths, your speed, arrival time, and ability tobrace yourself against the inevitable bumps in theroad all depend on whether or not you are fullymaximizing—getting the most out of—your top five.At the same time, maximizing also means striking abalance with your strengths. (Lets leave the trail andhit the road for a second. When you are driving withyour strengths, you ideally should be at cruisingspeed, not inching or rocketing down the road. Based 230
  • 231. on what you know about your top five strengths, howmany miles per hour do you think you are drivingwith your strengths today?) Maximizing your strengths starts by becomingan expert on your personal top five strengths whileseeking guidance from those who share your talentsand partnerships with people who you feel can helpyou better utilize them. Make a list of resources—books, tools, colleagues—that will deepen yourunderstanding of your signature strengths. Considerjoining others in a strengths mastermind group.Commit to an attitude of lifetime learning, whether itis through self study, coaching and/or mastermindgroup work, or higher education. (In my case, Irecommend a combination of all three!) 231
  • 232. Step #4 - Strengthen Your Management The next phase of harnessing your strengths isstrengthening your management—becoming astrengths based leader. Strengths based leadersknow how to maximize their own strengths as well asthe strengths of all the members of their team so thateach individual experiences more confidence andpersonal satisfaction on the job and the group as awhole enjoys more overall productivity andprofitability (and fewer office wars). By valuing andbalancing the unique contributions of each memberof their organization, strengths based leaders createcultures of trust and compassion instead of tensionand competition. On the trail, his strengths basedleadership skills are what make Jereme such asuccessful sled guide—he knows and respects eachdog, what they do best, and their ideal partners. 232
  • 233. Want to be a strengths based leader? PracticeStrengthspotting—the act of using informalquestions and observations to make an educatedguess about someones strengths. Using the SIGNmethod from Chapter Two, for example, you can askyour colleagues and team member’s questions thatgive you a sense of their natural talents. With this inmind, you can begin to adjust your leadership styleto bring out the best in every member of your team. Step #5 - Monetize Your Strengths The fifth phase of harnessing your strengths isoften one of the most exciting, especially forentrepreneurs, small business owners, and executiveteams looking to use their strengths in theworkplace. Monetizing your strengths answers thequestion: How can I hone my marketing message, 233
  • 234. get more leads, and grow my client base so I canmake more money? A strengths based marketingand sales approach can transform a business—Iveseen it happen. I cant count the number of phonecalls and emails Ive received from clients celebratinga major sale, new position/promotion, or smallbusiness success after tailoring their marketingstrategies and sales techniques to their top fivestrengths. In Harness Your Strengths, I take you step-by-step through the process of making over yourmarketing strategy so you and the unique benefitsyou offer can really sparkle, allowing you to reachmore potential customers and close more sales.Heres your head start. Ask yourself: What is keeping my ideal client up at 3 AM? 234
  • 235. Think about how your unique combination ofstrengths can help your ideal client sleep better atnight. Whatever the answer, you want yourmarketing to clearly communicate how you and yourservices can solve your customers problems and addvalue to their life and business. A strengths basedmarketing approach gives you a language tocommunicate why your special blend of strengthsmakes you the best person for the job. Step #6 - Strengthen Your Members A strong business is based on strongemotional loyal customer relationships. Theyincrease referrals and add value to your services withpositive word-of-mouth advertising and glowingtestimonials. Securing customers for keeps dependson making authentic, natural connections with your 235
  • 236. signature strengths. My new friend Chip Conley,author of PEAK: How Great Companies Get TheirMojo from Maslow was gracious to share his top fivestrengths and his vision of how his strengths helpedbuild Joie De Vivre Hospitality into the number onehotel chain for customer service. The researchreveals that emotionally engaged customers pay 67%more a year for the service they purchase from youbecause they feel confidence, integrity, pride, andpassion. Step #7 - Mobilize Your Strengths Remember my colleague; the “strengthsambassador” with the phrase “What strengths am Igoing to use today?” taped above her desk? Havingweaved strengths through the various areas of herlife, my colleague has now graduated to being a 236
  • 237. strengths model—an “ambassador” as I like to callher—building the strengths culture around her byusing her strengths each and every day. The pinnacleof the strengths coaching system is mobilizing yourstrengths to work, to marriage, to parenting,education, medicine, and eventually the nations. Mydream is to train 10,000 strengths ambassadorsmobilizing strengths around the world. Harnessing your strengths is a lifestyle, astring of flags on a map, not a single destination.With each trip—each goal—we refine our strengthsstyle, gradually turning into leaders like Jereme whowill one day pass the torch, modeling his strengthsfor a new generation of guides. In my own life, mystrengths are always taking me higher and helpingme trek further into the future, making me a bettermentor and model both for my coaching clients aswell as those I love. 237
  • 238. Taking the Next Step Congratulations, you have discovered yourstrengths. On the road, they are the keys to your car.On the trail, they are the dogs on your team. In yourlife, they are the building blocks of your success. Nowthat you have discovered your unique set of talents,you can take the reins and start to steer your life inthe direction of your dreams. So, what are youwaiting for? Its time to harness your strengths. 238
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