Recently, I took an online personality assessment that I have heard a lot about over the years but had never done. As part of a leadership group I am participating in as part of my Rotary Club, I took the Clifton Strengths Finders assessment online to help me identify my Top 5 strengths. I cannot say that what I learned from the assessment was surprising, although I could argue it might be aspirational. The great lessons came in learning how to apply them.
Just like any great study or habit, the difficulty is not in learning it or understanding it. Rather the challenge lies in the implementation of it. We can read volumes of books, listen to multitudes of podcasts, and study the habits of great achievers throughout history. In the end, we will have a wealth of knowledge; however, if we fail to implement any of our learnings, I might argue that you have wasted a great deal of time. If that sounds harsh, stay with me, I believe there is an opportunity for everyone in this week’s message.
The first thing that I learned from the assessment I took is that not only does it help me to identify my Top 5 strengths, but it also identifies and ranks every strength across 34 different attributes. Then, it shows me where those five lay across four different domains that the Gallup people who own the test break down into Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, and Strategic Thinking. Again, it is not the point of my post, but perhaps interesting information for you if you want to explore it further.
The biggest lesson for me that I want you to consider, whether you know what your top 5 strengths are or not, is the importance of developing those skills. I am not advocating for you to take the assessment. However, if you need to know or identify your strengths, personality type, or genetic tendencies, there are numerous online personality profiles to help you discover more about yourself. In my past, I have employed a couple of coaches to help me identify and develop my talents if that is something that interests you.
The thing I want you to come away from this writing is to have a clear picture of where you are strongest, where you feel most energized, most alive, and most fulfilled when you are operating from those places or positions. Then, devote the majority of your time to developing those skills so that you become proficient in them. As with all worthwhile endeavors, it’s simple, but it’s not easy.
Why? Because we quickly become clouded with distractions. We plan our time, days, and activities around where we can generate the most positive results for ourselves and others. Yet, if I asked you over the past week or even day what percentage of your time has been spent working on your strengths, I would guess the percentage is low because we allow our weaknesses to distract us.
The beautiful thing that I learned going through this most recent exercise, and certainly in my business career, is that I cannot attempt to do everything myself. If you use the analogy of exercise, it isn’t easy to become proficient in anything if you try to work on everything. The same is true for your work life, personal life, and any other area of life. It’s a matter of focus. Work in your zone of genius and let the rest go. Not idly, but by allowing others to work around your strengths in areas where you are weak, you are further empowering them to develop their strengths as well.
My challenge for you is to use the Pareto Principle when it comes to exercising your strengths. Discipline yourself to spend 80 percent of your time working on your top 5 strengths. My prediction is if you become determined to do this, you will transform how you show up for others and as the best version of yourself.
The final lesson from the exercise I went through is that my strengths are unique to everyone else. Of the millions of people who have taken the Strengths Finders Assessment, it is my understanding that it is statistically impossible for my exact results in the order they ranked for me to line up with anyone else. To me, this says that you and I are both uniquely gifted to do only what we can do. So the more you do it, and the faster you start, the stronger you will get, and the more benefit all of us will gain from it. Get to work!
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I also invite you to review my coaching page on my website here. I have only a couple of spots left in my Personal Development Coaching Practice. Each week I offer two free strategy sessions on a first-come, first-served basis to people interested in exploring how to become a person who pursues their goals and dreams. These special hour-long sessions prove again and again to be invaluable to those who participate. You can book these directly on my coaching page – I look forward to serving you.