Hey there…my name is Jon Sexton…and I’m passionate about people. What do I mean by that? I thrive on working with folks to help them realize their true potential, whether that’s through helping them build confidence, explore new educational or career opportunities, or learn how to tap into their strengths to realize untapped potential in a given role. One of the ways I do this is through using the framework of the Clifton StrengthsFinder. This approach won me over through the simple words of Donald Clifton, founder of the StrengthsFinder Assessment:
“What would happen if we studied what is right with people versus what is wrong with people?”
I challenge you to think about that quote for a few minutes. I would argue that we live in a deficit oriented society, one in which we’re constantly inundated with messages about how we should be more “well rounded” and seek ways to improve ourselves. That’s fantastic in theory, but how much time do we waste investing in building skills that simply are aligned with our natural skill set. What if instead we truly honed and focused on our natural talents? Some of the most successful professionals I know do just that…they play to their strengths seeking opportunities to work with individuals who have significantly different skill sets than their own.
From a career development perspective this approach is powerful in that it focuses on tapping into your natural interests. In addition it focuses on investing in activities that bring you energy versus draining it from you. There is benefit in building your natural talents as it allows you to develop the ability to tap into them in a strategic manner to achieve the things you naturally want to do. When we fail to invest in talent…it may go untapped, unrealized, or left undeveloped. Imagine if someone had convinced John Lennon or Paul McCartney at a young age that playing guitar was a waste a time and that they should invest time into more “serious” pursuits.
Even when we know our talents, we must be willing to work on developing them. Raw talent has the tendency drive our behavior in undesirable ways. Let’s use the metaphor of taming an animal as an example. Say you want to tame a horse, to the point where you’re able to ride it between two locations that are several miles or kilometers apart. Do a half hearted job and you’ll likely have an animal that will either buck you off, or will fight you on where you want it to go. Like undeveloped talent, there is untapped potential in that horse, but until you’ve properly tamed it, it’s going to try to lead you where it wants to go…and perhaps even accidently harm you as a result of that struggle. Properly train the animal and all of a sudden you’ve harnessed a resource that can help you in a wide variety of ways.
The benefits of taking a Strengths based approach to your work or professional development are abundant. Consider the following: [Read more…]