As published on LinkedIn Influencers on June 21st, 2018.
A few months ago I began working with a life coach. I did this for many reasons, but the main reason was because this month marks a big transition point in my life. Personally, my youngest child just graduated from high school, which is a massive milestone for every parent. Professionally, the organization that I am a co-founder of, Women Moving Millions, is undergoing a change in board leadership, as well as soon to be choosing a new Executive Director who will be leading us through our next stage of growth. With these two things happening at once, it’s inspired me to think about hitting a giant re-set on my life. To do this, I knew I needed help.
One of the first things my coach encouraged me to do was to complete the StrengthsFinder profile. StrengthsFinder was first developed in the 1990s by educational psychologist Donald Clifton, and was first released to the public in 2001. Since then, millions of people have completed their online profiles, whether as an individual or as a team, and StrengthsFinder 2.0, released in 2007, is still consistently one of the top selling non-fiction books on Amazon. How it works is that when you fill out the online profile and assessment, StrengthsFinder identifies patterns in your (or your team’s) thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. From this, your top talents are discerned, and StrengthsFinder uses this information to help you turn your top talents into strengths and tools for success.
This was not the first self assessment I have done; in fact I have done many others in the past, and each time I do one I’m reminded of just how important these tools are to developing self awareness. The more we understand ourselves, the more we can really lean into our talents, and by doing this, we can align what we are more naturally good at with how we spend our time. When we do this, it is more likely that we will find success in our endeavours. Does this mean you can’t do things that are outside your comfort zone? Of course not. But in my experience, you can’t live in that space for too long or the stress of it will wear you down.
So as I move into the next phase of my life, what is front and center for me is to try to align my core strengths with the work that I am doing. I firmly believe that one of the main reasons I have loved my time with Women Moving Millions ( WMM) so much was that there was such an incredible alignment in that organization with my core strengths. It has been an incredible 8 years of being “ALL IN” for WMM and being named a co-founder of the organization alongside Helen LaKelly Hunt meant the world to be. So while I will remain on the board I will have a lot more time to do other things, and I am taking time off to figure it out. My own bridge year of sorts.
So, do yourself a favor: buy the book and do the assessment. When you buy the book you get an activation code to take the online questionnaire at no additional cost and it’s worth every penny. (I have no connection to the authors of this book as an fyi, just a fan!)
So what are my top 5 strengths ? Here they are below. If you have used this tool please share how it has helped you in your life and career.
Strength 1 – BELIEF
It was not surprising at all that this showed up. My life’s work is wrapped around my core values around social justice, including gender equity. Although I previously had a 14 year career on Wall Street, I have now found my purpose in my non-profit work. It would be impossible for me to ever again work for or with an organization where our values are not aligned.
Strength 2 – WOO
Yes. I am that person who starts conversations with people while waiting in line for the bathroom, while checking out groceries at the store, you name it. I love meeting new people.
Strength 3 – Communication
No surprise here. I started my personal blog almost 10 years ago because of a burning desire to write and share. Additionally, I truly love being parts of panels and giving talks.
Strength 4 – Activator
This is one that I more recently learned about myself, and it was only when it popped up as a core strength that I fully processed that this really is true about me. I love new ideas, and I love turning them into action. I have a feeling that the next thing I do might well be starting a company.
Strength 5 – Positivity
People have called me an “energy bunny” on more than a few occasions. Although I have never liked that title, I have come to think that what they are trying to suggest is that I am an endless supply of positive energy. This is true. I am one of those people who not only always seems to see the bright side, but who is the one to pull everyone else onto the open dance floor. I often joke that alternative career might have been as a “party starter”. Not sure it would have paid so well.