What about WHAT we love? What we love is a clue into our natural talents. We are often unconscious about these natural talents and may take these for granted. We are often unaware of what makes us unique. Becoming aware of these ‘raw’ talents and practice over time converts these talents to strengths.
According to The Gallup Organization there are 34 talent themes which play up in a unique manner. Years of research conducted suggests that the most effective people are those who understand their strengths and behaviours. These people are best able to develop strategies to meet and exceed the demands of their daily lives, their careers, and their families. Awareness and understanding of our natural talents helps provide an insight into the core reasons for our consistent successes. It tells us what we do exceptionally well.
Don Clifton is the Father of Strengths Psychology and Inventor of CliftonStrengths, or the Gallup Strength Finder tool.
Two years ago I underwent an executive learning program on leadership coaching. I have mentored and coached professionals for quite a long time. However, the past four months since my assessment were game changing. It provided a highly scientific rigorous clue into ‘who I am’ and ‘what do I do exceptionally well’. And I learned that what I do exceptionally well is because I do ‘what I love’. It is a thumbprint of sorts with 1 in 30 odd million people sharing a common combination of talent themes.
I expected Communication, Discipline, Learner, and Focus to emerge among my top talents. When my first talent showed up as Input, I was stumped. What does it mean? The shared theme description reads, ‘People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information’.
Four of my top five talent themes are in the thinking domain.
What ‘Input’ tells me is that I love collecting – memorabilia, letters, books, stories, and people. My Signature Themes report on Input informs me ‘At the time of storing it is often hard to say exactly when or why you might need them, but who knows when they might become useful? With all those possible uses in mind, you really don’t feel comfortable throwing anything away. So you keep acquiring and compiling and filing stuff away. It’s interesting. It keeps your mind fresh. And perhaps one day some of it will prove valuable’.
Now I know why it’s so hard for me to throw things away. From more valuable things like my mother’s first letter to little fun things like my head-girl badge, throwing away comes with a fear of ‘what I need this sometime later’
I enjoy the little surprises and delight that can come from showing my son his golden brown curly lock of hair from when he was two months old, and showing my daughter her notes slid under the door of my bedroom asking to be woken up or wishing me good night.
Input means that I can ferret away stories and can tell them at the opportune time. This is what gets me an ‘aha’. The timing to retrieve and share exactly what one needs when one needs it. It helps me satisfy the need for IWWINWINI [I Want What I Need When I Need It].
It takes me a while to think about my talents and then to own them up. Our coach tells us that we must accept or own up and value our talent. ‘Name it – Claim It – Aim It’.
My personalized strength insights report reads, ‘Instinctively, you are apt to feel good about life the moment you can sit down and read. For you, the acquisition of information is a basic need’. ‘Need’ is the word or even ‘craving’.
My personalized strength insights report reads, ‘Chances are good that you are known for being well- read. This explains why people seek you out to solicit your point of view on various topics. Others’ questions routinely inspire you to delve more deeply into subjects. By reading, you continually add fresh ideas to your mind’s storehouse of information. Because of your strengths, you absorb all sorts of information from books, publications, or other written materials. You display a voracious — that is, never fully satisfied — appetite for knowledge. You devour the written word to savor useful facts’
We got family, friends and the Lumière team undergo the CliftonStrengths. The Project Managers underwent the assessment for all 34 themes, while for the rest, we got the top 5 themes assessed. We were working on a change management assignment for a health services company. Let us begin by getting the promoters and the leadership team begin with taking the Strengths tool.
This strength is handy when someone needs something. Ask and thou shall receive.
The flip side of having Input is ‘hate not having something that someone needs; it leads to frustration’.
Friends who know me also add, ‘I don’t want this right now… or aaram se dena’, because they know I have the need to get cracking finding what they need and I won’t rest until I have given it to them. That is my Input and Activator strengths combine for the ASAP to happen.
My Personalized Strength Insights Report reads ‘By nature, you probably started asking people questions as a child and continue to do so today. Others quickly notice you are genuinely interested in what they say. Your inquiries turn tense frowns into relaxed smiles. The warmth of your presence can transform a timid person into a talkative one.’
What I thought was my strength in Communication is what Input gives me. In client meetings and conversations or moderating qualitative research groups, I can ask questions that make people speak. And when I listen with genuine interest, people like it. They flow and my Input helps remember and recall details of conversation better than anyone else. Dip into my memory bank and pull out details when I need it helps with story-telling. I can build a picture with a word story.
My personalized strength insights report reads, ‘Few things delight you as much as hearing a stranger say, “I really like you — and I’ve just met you!” What attracts me to people is that rare, special and unique. It is what makes me a People Collector!
Spiritual seeker, people and idea collector and connector, life-long learner and sharer. Founder CEO Lumiere Business Solutions, a marketing research & consulting firm. She designed a business model innovation to enable women professionals to get back to work.