{9 Steps} to Life Change through your StrengthsFinder Top 5 Strengths

9 Steps to Life-Change

You have taken StrengthsFinder. Maybe you have even sat through some sort of a training activity. People have told you that it is interesting and insightful {and one crazy gal keeps saying it’s life-changing}, so you did it.

Yet, you find that the one thing you most accurately remember about it is…that you took it. And the only thing that has changed was the blank paper that turned inked when you printed out your report {if you even did that}.

Or, perhaps you found incredible enthusiasm about the concept and your results and you were all about it…until life came at you again a few moments later, and it slowly fell to the bottom of the stack.

Very common responses.

Even amongst industry leaders who are now fervently enthusiastic about living a life through the lens of Strength, there was, at the start, a sense of “so what?”

I know I started that way. I didn’t have a guidebook or an expectation of next steps or really even any personal guidance. I took the StrengthsFinder, and the only thing I knew to do was to read, process, and talk about it. From then, I just fumbled through my Top 5 Strengths—despising some and loving others—and tried to figure out what it all meant for me.

Beyond that, I was just winging it on the “how” to make it something impactful.

Over the 9.5 years since I was first introduced, I have tried a few things and have learnt a few things and realized that there just might be a more effective way to use the StrengthsFinder Top 5 then the trial and error approach I took!

So, that is why today I’m putting out this Checklist—the 9 ways to actually USE your StrengthsFinder Top 5 Strengths results—and many of them take only moments to do. {AND I made it into a 3 page fillable or printable Checklist worksheet that makes actually DOING these things a reality!}

Your Top 5 Strengths are more than just a theory or a nice-to-know. CliftonStrengths are a scientific look at the root of your past success and a route to your future increased energy and decreased frustration—at work and at home.

You can approach these 9 steps sequentially if you are just starting out {or just pulling them out of a drawer or from the bottom of an “organized” stack!} Or, if you have already mastered the first several steps, you can jump around and hit the ones you have missed or have not considered yet.

{If you still need to unveil the language to your greatest Strengths, take StrengthsFinder here as the VERY first step.}


 9 steps to life change infographic

#1 :: Remember to Remember Your Strengths

The very first essential, most necessary, most important step to using your Strengths to impact change in your life is the most obvious step. You have to remember them.

In order to remember them, you have to remember to think about them.

In order to remember to think about them, you need to have them hanging around somewhere obvious.

I had them in my bathroom for years {until we moved to NYC with a bathroom sink the size of a TV tray, shared by the 5 people in my family!}

Some techy-types use the StrengthsFinder App from Gallup or others.
Others keep them in their wallet where they look every day.
Others write them on a mirror or computer screen.
Or a popular tactic…a sticky note, stuck to that place you cannot ignore them {e.g. perhaps on your keyboard at work, so that you have to read them every day before you boot up that machine}.
Print them or pen them and post them. Then, read them every day. Your Strengths will never be life changing if you cannot bring them to mind immediately.

{Check out the FREE 3 page fillable OR printable Checklist worksheet for a fancy template you can use to post your Top 5 Strengths!}

StrengthsFinder LifeChange Checklist Ad Image

#2 :: Put Your Strengths in Your Own Words

Once you start to recall what your Top 5 Strengths are, you have to make them your own.

Step 2I had a client who REALLY despised the StrengthFinder word Empathy…which turned out to be among his own Top 5. He clearly did not want to associate with the word. Fine. As long as he owned the elements of it, he could call it whatever he wanted.

These Strengths are your own, and the more you can put them in your own words, the more you can describe them to others and the more you truly own them.

So, a quick 7-14 minute activity, and you’ll have all the words you need to really make them your own:

  • Print your Signature Themes Report from GallupStrengthsCenter.com {you have life time access there, and if you can’t recall your login info, they have great tech folks who can help you in.}
  • Read through the description of each Talent Theme {Strength}
  • As you read, highlight the lines or phrases that say “this is me!” {Sometimes that is the entire paragraph and sometimes just a few words}
  • THEN, important step here, transfer those words or phrases to a separate spot, such as a note in your phone or a piece of paper grabbed off the printer.

Once you’ve done this, you now have a list of your Top 5 Strengths with key words and descriptions in your own words. You’re starting to see what they really mean for YOU.

{Check out the FREE 3 page fillable OR printable Checklist for step by step instructions of this step and a table to record your Strengths in your own words}

StrengthsFinder LifeChange Checklist Ad Image

#3 :: Explain Your Strengths to a Friend or Coworker

Depending on your relationship with your most natural Talents, the idea of sharing your natural wiring with people around you can feel divine, daring, or daunting. Wherever you land on the spectrum, you will find that others are better mirrors of your Strengths than the inside of your head.Step 3

Your Strengths are like your face. You know it’s there and you even have a pretty good idea of what it looks like and what the details are, but as you are walking around all day, the only people who see your face are the people around you. They see and know your expressions {and unconscious twitches!} better than you do.

Find a trusted friend, or a patient and reflective colleague, and share your StrengthsFinder Top 5 Strengths with them. You can do this in a couple ways, depending on what’s most comfortable for you.

  • Give them a copy of your Signature Themes Report. This gives them something undoubtedly entertaining to read as they see YOU reflected in the pages.

OR

  • Tell them about the words or phrases you chose to describe your Strengths {from #2}. This starts with the most important, meaningful parts of your Strengths AND gives you practice in describing who you really are to others.

You can blame it on me—tell them I made you do it—but however you approach it, talk them through your StrengthsFinder Top 5 Strengths and see what they have to say about them.

Let them reflect the facial expressions of your Talents!

{Check out the FREE 3 page fillable OR printable Worksheet for a step-by-step Checklist to using your Strengths for life change}

StrengthsFinder LifeChange Checklist Ad Image

#4 :: Follow Your Star

This is a mind-body favorite of mine.

You know your StrengthsFinder Top 5 Strengths, you are beginning to describe them on your own, others have reflected back to you how they have seen those Strengths in your life, and now you can have some fun with them. Sear them deeper into your memory bank and remember how you best use them with this kinesthetic Strengths association.

Here’s how:

  • Get up, off your seat and stretch your arms high and wide. Spread out your feet to match. And reach, stretch! {Feels better already, right?}
  • THIS is your Star…where your head, hands, and feet are your sharpest points. {Check out the first episode of Isogo TV where I explore the concept of Circle vs Star perspectives in your life for more about the Star’s significance}.
  • Now, as you hold your stretch, think about your Top 5 Strengths and how you use them in your life.
  • Visualize each strength holding a position in your body, according to the role it plays in your life. I like to assign one to each sharp point on my star — one per hand, foot, and head. Others much more creative than I have assigned them to their hearts, face, minds…the kinesthetic canvas is yours!

Step 4In Episode 29 from the first year of the Isogo TV video podcast, I walk through a visual demonstration of this Stretch concept and activity if you want to see what a star stretch on the beach looks like.

A couple examples…

I assign my Achiever and Arranger to my hands because they are what people see in my work, my Learner to my head for its ability to drive my thoughts forward, and my Connectedness and Belief for the foundation in which I stand and move forward.

In a team workshop, another client reflected that her Ideation flowed from her head, her Responsibility at her feet to follow her through, her Command in her eyes to show confidence, her Input at her hand to gather facts, and her Relator at her heart to connect with those closest to her.

Now you have a visual connection {you can put your arms down!} to your Strengths and even a memorization device for what role they play.

{Check out the FREE 3 page fillable OR printable Checklist for a “sharp” place to record your Strengths Star stretch}

StrengthsFinder LifeChange Checklist Ad Image

#5 :: Turn Your Volumes Up {or Down}

Based on #1-4, you know your StrengthsFinder Top 5 Strengths, can explain them to others, and even have a sense for what good they have done for you in your life.

Now, move from nice-to-know to know-how. And it comes in the form of an extremely poignant metaphor.

Just as my husband’s choice of Taylor Swift tunes is hardly enjoyable at maximum volume, nor hardly recognizable at minimum volume, your Strengths have an ideal volume to get the most value from you.

Similarly, just as my ear buds need constant upping as I attempt to enjoy my favorite podcasts in the rush of the subway, yet I can hardly tolerate that same volume when I finally escape the noise into the low rumble of Plowshares coffee shop, your Strengths must operate at appropriate {and varying!} volumes according to the environment you find yourself in.Step 5

Loud Talents in a quiet environment become overbearing

Quiet Talents in a noisy environment are lost.

Becoming a master volume dialer of your StrengthsFinder Top 5 Strengths is a task that allows maximum impact with minimum frustration {to you and those around you!}

So, try out this activity to master your volumes: Close your eyes and imagine setting your StrengthsFinder Top 5 CliftonStrengths in a row in front of you. Each one has a volume dial. When you think about how that Talent works {or doesn’t!} in your life, at what volume does it tend to operate?

If you’re feeling burnout, excessive conflict, overbearance, check your Strengths for volume Overdrive.

If you’re feeling unheard, shame, distaste for your Strengths, check your Strengths for volume Underdrive.

When you are feeling energized and collaborative, see your Strengths operating at Optimized volume.

Where you find Overdrive or Underdrive, you know it is time for an adjustment. I walk you through a detailed description and activity of this conflict in Episode 31 of the Isogo TV video podcast. Watch the video and grab the free activity download to really zero in on your daily work and life activities and where they play out in your Strengths volume.

{Check out the FREE 3 page fillable OR printable Checklist to see my favorite visual of this concept and activity}

StrengthsFinder LifeChange Checklist Ad Image

#6 :: Share What You Bring

This step is kind of like phase two of discovery. You move beyond “wow, this sounds like me!” to being laser clear about what value you offer and owning your unique contribution.

As a recovering perfectionist, it has taken me a while to buy into the idea that EVERYONE has something to contribute. It would drive me crazy to no end that someone would approach a project differently than I would—that their plan was looser than I was comfortable with, that their fonts didn’t match, that their sticker wasn’t branded.

Step 6

When I am being completely honest with myself, these types of things still bother me. They cut against my filter of the world. BUT what I am so grateful to have learned {that has preserved relationships around me!} is that each one of those people had something unique and valuable to offer, and that is not just lip service.

The loose plan allowed them to be much more flexible and responsive than I could ever naturally be. Even the wonky fonts and misbranded sticker got the message out and created a conversation that was far more natural than those that I struck up with my pristinely designed materials.

You have a unique contribution and a unique approach to your work and life, that your world needs. Maybe no one else will see a problem or approach its solution in just the same way you do. Maybe no one else will see a need and intuitively know how to help meet it like you do. Maybe no one else will see a mess and knows just how to right it like you do. Maybe no one else will see something stuck and know just how to get it going again like comes so naturally to you.

The clearer you can get on exactly what your contribution is—and own it fully—the greater your impact at work, well-being at home, and enthusiasm in life.

Here are several ways to begin getting laser clear on your unique contribution:

  • Read or talk through your StrengthsFinder Signature Theme descriptions report again. {Use the report you started with or try using one of the other reports at your GallupStrengthsCenter.com portal.}
  • Use the report to zero in what value you really truly bring when your Strengths are tuned up to the right volume for the moment.
  • Think about what others have recognized or praised you for. Often others feel your value and benefit well before you do.
  • Think about what you have been doing when you felt enthused and alive. You’ll find your Strengths at the root of those experiences.
  • Use this free 1-page printable chart that gives you an idea of a key contribution from each of the 34 StrengthsFinder Talent Themes.

It is these areas of unique contribution and value that you can build for even more influence, impact, energy, and success. It is these areas of unique contribution that we need you to step up and share what only you can bring…so own it…and bring it!

{Check out the FREE 3 page fillable/printable Checklist to walk through this step and see all your contribution in one place}

StrengthsFinder LifeChange Checklist Ad Image

#7 :: Get Clear on Your Needs

Here in lies THE most powerful point of impact that StrengthsFinder and the CliftonStrengths has had for me, my clients, and my family.

Yes, our Top 5 Strengths are good at telling us WHY we approach life and see the world as we do. Yes, they are great at helping us determine HOW we perform our roles at work and at home and HOW we can refine our behavior to experience even more energy and success.

Step 7But what they do best of all is give us specific insights into our deepest and most individualized needs. They help us see what we truly need to thrive, and give us insights into why some things might frustrate us to no end.
When our needs are not being met or are violated, we are not set up for success. Instead we are drained and frustrated, and often times, we cannot put our finger on exactly why that might be.

Only when our needs are met can our most natural Talents thrive as Strengths.

So, get laser clear on your needs, starting here:

  • Read through your Strengths descriptions again and identify clues to your ideal environments and what you Strengths need.
  • Think: What are the specific elements of environments that you find extremely satisfying? And which others leave you laying flat?
  • For a lightening fast short cut, use this popular FREE tool to give you a starting idea for what your Strengths really need.

Bring it home with a recent story from your own experience:

  • Think of the last extremely frustrating experience you have had, whether with a colleague, manager, spouse, or child. Take a deep breath in. Exhale long and slow.
  • When you break down the frustration into smaller pieces, what was the piece that really set you off?
  • Rather than focus on his or her behavior, focus your attention on what underlying pieces of you felt violated or misunderstood?
  • Look at the needs you pulled from your StrengthsFinder Top 5 Strengths. Which of these was mistreated or misunderstood in that frustrating moment or experience?

This was not easy for me at first. In fact, I still have to dissect frustrations carefully to see the root of the demise. Most often, I can see that my own psychological and emotional needs have not been met or, even worse, have been discounted or tromped on.

This exercise is both weighty and enlightening. Once you see your Strengths as windows into your needs, you are poised for even more action and impact through your Top 5 Strengths.

{Check out the FREE 3 page fillable/printable Checklist to see all your needs in one place and be sure you get this one marked off}

StrengthsFinder LifeChange Checklist Ad Image

#8 :: Meet Your Needs {Yeah, you}

By this step, you know your most natural Strengths {#1-#4}, you are beginning to see the unique value you can offer {#5-#6} and the environments that are ideal for your Strengths to really thrive {#7}.

Once you know your needs, you have to meet them. If you are at all like me, you want someone else to swoop in and meet your needs.

When I was in college, I desperately wanted someone to see my need for meaningful connections {Connectedness} and then swoop in and be that for me.

As a newly minted Marketing Director, I wanted my boss to see my need for gaining new knowledge {Learner} and spontaneously volunteer to send me to the best conferences.Step 8

Even to this day, I want those around me to see that I need freedom to work at my own pace {Achiever} and give me that freedom without having to ask for it.

But the truth is, I had to figure out what I needed to do to start to get these needs met. Of course, this does not happen in a vacuum {or at the expense of others}, but it is my own work on meeting my own needs that is the catalyst to creating the environments that will help my Strengths thrive.

To meet my Connectedness need I was the one that had to do work to ensure I was open and vulnerable enough for connection. To meet my Learner need, I was the one who had to find the best conferences and pitch a business case for my attendance. To meet my Achiever need, I am the one who needs to recognize and arrange my schedule to remove the barriers {and communicate the need respectfully!}

So, try this one out to get started:

  • Think through the needs you identified in #7. {f you haven’t already, use this Bring and Need of StrengthsFinder tool to zero in on your most fundamental needs.}
  • In your current, daily environment—at work and at home—which are regularly being met?
  • Which are not? {That frustrating moment you identified in #7 will be the best clue here.}
  • What happens when those needs are not met? {e.g. I turn into some sort of irrational, insecure, self-preservationist…not my finest moments.}
  • Brainstorm and choose 2 ideas for how you could better meet those needs in your work or home life.

Live it out and make the change.

Every small step to more intentionally live out of your own Strengths is a step closer to the more energetic and less frustrated daily work and life you want.

{Check out the FREE 3 page fillable/printable Checklist to commit to brainstorm, record, and commit to taking this step}

StrengthsFinder LifeChange Checklist Ad Image

#9 :: Repeat {again and again}Step 9

In some ways, these steps are a daily rhythm.

As you get more and more aware of your StrengthsFinder Talents playing out in your everyday work and everyday life, and better at quickly assessing your volumes, what you can offer, and what you need, these 8 steps become part of your daily heart beat.

And that daily heart beat is what creates the life-change.

So step #9 is just that…repeat #1-8 over and over. On your own and in community.

{Be sure to grab your FREE 3 page fillable/printable worksheet to have your Checklist to life-change through your Strengths}

StrengthsFinder LifeChange Checklist Ad Image


 

You know, I guess there is probably one more step as well. Funny that I hadn’t considered it until this point.

I was talking to a colleague over corner-shop falafel and tabouli last week. She lives and breathes the concept of best-living through Strength. She knows her most dominant StrengthsFinder Strengths. She understands how they work together and what they need to thrive. She has put herself in a role that matches those Strengths with the things she gets to do every day. She seeks out areas to use them and to be fed for them.

Somehow, I was surprised to hear her say that it was not always that way. Years before, when she happened upon her CliftonStrengths, it was a momentary event. She could not reflect them back or recall what the concept was all about.

It was only years later, when she was “forced” into a coaching conversation about her Strengths that the hidden world became revealed to her. She gained professional insight and had a professional “mirror,” as it were, held up to her greatest Talents. It was from that point that the impact really took hold.

StrengthsFinder with coaching—that changed her life.

So I suppose that’s the 10th step {or maybe 4th or 5th in there somewhere!}—I would love to talk to you about your Strengths and help turn the corner for life change for you. Connect with me here.

If you want to check out my insights about YOUR Top 5 Strengths without jumping into a coaching session already {too much, too soon!!} you can check out this 10 day email series that sends you an email every other day—entirely customized to you and your Top 5 Strengths. And it’s only $14 too!

Check out more info by clicking the image below.

StrengthsFinder Personal Brand Insights
 StrengthsFinder Signature Course

Connect

I want to help you achieve the ENERGY you deserve and reduce the FRUSTRATION that plagues us all in relationships—both at work and at home {at least, it plagues me!}. So, connect with me with any questions, excitements or skepticism you have…I’d love to connect with you!

One of the best places to join the Strengths conversation is over at our Facebook Group — Energy Up Frustration Down by Strengths. Join us as we all try to figure out just how to use our Strengths to impact the most important things around us—in our work and life.

If you’re thinking about the way a Strengths-perspective could impact your marriage or your family or you’re just not so sure about it all, reach out, and let’s connect about it. You can catch me at FacebookTwitter, or Instagram all at @isogostrong, or by this handy contact form.

Enjoy your day, and {be strong}!

 

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