Why Clifton StrengthsFinder

I’m no Clifton StrengthsFinder expert, but I have found myself once again extolling its virtues in a leadership group that I meet with once a month. This was a new audience that hadn't yet heard me harp on the instrument's signature themes. Oh the giddiness. 

Here’s the thing, it seems we’re conditioned to believe that the winners in business and life are those who act and act fast, the people who are outgoing, make big deals, get visible stuff done. Are you shaking your head and saying, "well yah...duh, Nila!" Bear with me.

With all these books telling us that we must be large and in charge and with most career training being based in those principals, those of us who aren’t the visible movers and shakers can find ourselves questioning our worth. We ask what we’ll bring to business and if we’ll really be of any value to x situation or y group. That's because we’re trying to fit into some cultural ideal of what is strong. I say that's sad. I believe everyone has great worth. That’s why I like the Clifton StrengthsFinder system.

Donald Clifton, Tom Rath and the Gallup organization created the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment, identifying 34 strengths based on research in human behavior. Using an online assessment (and a code that is found in a few books including, StrengthsFinder 2.0) people may discover their top five strengths, their signature themes. Keep in mind that in this definition, a strength isn’t necessarily simply something you're good at. It's something you're good at and are energized by. Or something like that. Anyway, I postulate that the farther someone is outside of the acceptable corporate and cultural norm, the more she can be enlightened by seeing her strengths listed as, well, strengths. I’m speaking from personal experience, of course. Kind of figured that out, didn't you. When I saw my top strengths and read the descriptions, I was able to see what I thought were weakness in a completely different light. I could see my value to others, instead of seeing what I thought were my deficiencies, my lack of being a "real go getter."

That's the idea, really, to discover your strengths then spend your energy using those strengths in your work and life rather than constantly striving to be someone you are not. You know, be all that you can be. It's self-actualization, silly.

By the way, on a practical level, the strengths descriptions can be great bio fodder. Highlight your favorites phrases and see how you can cobble the concepts together for a unique personal brand statement on your LinkedIn page or your own personal site. Just don't plagiarize. Please.

Just my 2 cents for today.