The closing was beyond shock and awe.
The moments that followed the final act of the inaugural Gallup CliftonStrengths Summit filled the room with a lingering emotion that mingled startled silence with exuberant cheer. If I was wondering how to woo, well, that closing was the unexpected customer delight that was sure to win over even the driest of souls.
At first, I admit to thinking cooly…”a closing performance by talented in-house artists…how sweet. And oh, a choir too, how cute.”
But coolness quickly turned warm as the voice of conviction and brilliance began to fill the room. Similar to a concert you did not attend or a campfire experience you missed, it is difficult to express the emotion and vision that consumed the hearts and minds of each of the 742 Strengths enthusiasts Wednesday afternoon in Omaha.
And, that is probably the word I would use to sum up most of the 1.5 day experience. Unexpected.
Perhaps it is because my head has been filled with the ins and outs of packed boxes, hotel living, and wily road trips, but I arrived at the conference with a set of expectations that I would describe as moderate.
I had a few takeaway goals—1) find a takeaway for the questions most important to the Isogo community, 2) glean a takeaway for my business and team, and 3) make meaningful face-to-face connections. I expected to meet these goals, but I did not expect anything to be utterly fantastic.
So, what I want to be sure to communicate here are both the expected outcomes (met!) and the unexpected surprises that provided energy to the vision and mission of Isogo—to fuel life-change through the power of each person’s natural, unique, brilliant Strengths.
1 :: A Takeaway for the Isogo Community (You!)
Ok, so this was the most exciting pursuit of knowledge throughout the Summit. At the top of my mind were your questions—those of the Isogo community who are in pursuit of life-change and authentic energy in our everyday work and everyday lives.
Here are a the takeaways I uncovered in response to your two primary questions:
Q1: What do we do when others are not in tune with their own Strengths?
This question drew me to the breakout session lead by Dean Jones, a Talent Development Architect at Gallup. He led a discussion around Coaching the Unseen—the parts of us that are seen by others but that we, ourselves, are blind to.
I found a Helpful Perspective and a Practical Action that can help us answer this question.
All aspects of our personality and Talent live in one of four boxes (that align with the Johari Window).
As I envision it, it looks something like this, where our growth marks our progress toward the open and known — both by self and others.
As Dean closed the session, he left us with a list of questions that I found both entirely familiar and an extremely potent reminder of the conversations that are required to really DO something with our Strengths, to impact change when “others are not in tune with their own Strengths.”
He suggests these 6 questions as the openers to moving both the Hidden and the Blind out into the Open.
In particular, I love the last three and think it is a worthy exercise even for those who feel very much out in the Open. There is always more to reveal.
Q2: How do Strengths really take hold and move beyond a 1 day training?
Now, this is a very big question you all asked, requiring a much larger response than fits here. But it does have an answer. And I loved the clarity I gained in a couple breakout sessions throughout the Summit.
In particular, I keep coming back to and quoting the outcome of the CliftonStrengths Trends and Applications session by the amazingly talented Gallup Scientists, Jim Ashland, Jim Harter, and Brandon Rigoni.
In particular, as they parsed the data of the meta-analysis, they dug deeply to find not only the impact by the numbers (e.g. there is a 7-23% increase in employee engagement after a Strengths intervention), but also the qualitative factors that make the difference between the 7% (pretty dang good!) and that 23% (incredible!).
The outcome of that digging? The very factors a company (or family!) must implement in order for the Strengths paradigm to “take hold.”
Another spin on the answer to this question is actually quite simple (in terms of a takeaway, not necessarily in terms of executing). It comes from Murray Guest from Inspire My Business in his breakout session about Building a Strengths Culture from the Inside Out.
Culture change, like mixing tint into a gallon (or 4 liters, as the Aussie prefers!) of paint, takes the slow, consistent and sustaining work of intentional “stirring” among Leaders, Individuals, Systems and Environments. And while there are layers to explore, he closed with the sentiment that this stirring takes place one conversation at a time.
There is such wisdom in that. And it is a great reminder to me as I fuel life-changing stories. It is the ripple effect of each these conversations, each of these stories that makes the radical culture change we seek.
2 :: Takeaway for the Isogo Business and Team
I love the buzz that flutters when a bunch of Entrepreneurs get together to talk about how they made their plunges, how they faltered and how they soared.
Even before I arrived in Omaha, I was looking forward to hearing from Jayne Jenkins of Churchill Consulting and her breakout session about How Risk and Resiliency can Translate to Growth. And, I found additional team takeaways from the insights of Joe & Judy Bertotto of MY CU Services and Paul Allen of Gallup.
Get Clear on your Why.
This is nothing new to me. But it was a reminder that I needed to hear. I need to paint a consistent, detailed, and motivating picture of what life looks like when Isogo is soaring. I appreciated hearing Jayne’s perspective on facing FEAR (Future Events that Aren’t Real) and the familial orientation in her own Why.
Gratitude is what will drive success in teams and partnerships.
I need to practice the specific practice of gratitude that is based on the uniqueness that my team members (and husband!) bring. Often, these grateful thoughts get stuck in the Intellection wiring of my brain and do not make it out past my lips. Regular moments of specific gratitude to my team will go a long way in the building of Isogo and its purpose.
Go Back to the A-ha Moments.
This one is so simple yet so profound…read my StrengthsFinder report again. Take myself back to those first moments that mark the beginning of life-change in me. Read it aloud to someone who can reflect with me once again on those parts of me that are most unique and are my greatest sources of energy and contribution. Just as importantly, listen to the Reports of others being read to me—help them experience those a-ha moments all over again.
3 :: Face-to-Face Connections
The hands down greatest benefit from the CliftonStrengths Summit was the opportunity for connection.
As an introvert who is energized by time alone and drained by opening my mouth (though I do ENJOY the authentic connections…quite the juxtaposition), I had to engage in quite a bit of self-talk to continue to intentionally connect.
“Yes, I am tired”—I would tell myself—”but these people are what this Summit is all about.” And it was so worth it. Every time.
I now have faces and personalities for the fabulous coaches and contributors I have connected with electronically over the past several years—like the amazing Maureen Monte, Joni Lynn Nelson, Alissa Carpenter, and Jennifer Miller.
I shook hands and conversed with the Strengths pioneers and leaders who have lead the way in the world of certified coaches and so graciously looped me into their folds—Brandon Miller, Jayne Jenkins, Sarah Robinson, Lisa Cummings.
I savored the depth of relationship with the San Diego community who I have grown to cherish, respect, and depend on…and already deeply miss.
I celebrated reunion with graduates of my Certification and Training courses.
I built the foundation of fantastically significant relationships with new coaches and friends from around the world who have already served as an inspiration to my Connectedness and have fueled the fire of my Learner as I heard what they do, what drives their work, and their unique perspectives on changing lives, one conversation at a time.
A special shoutout to the New York community who welcomed me with exuberance…be joining you soon!
And to my greatest delight, I personally met a table full of Strengths coaches who had
traveled all the way from Japan to join the force of world change here in the States. I got to brush off a TINY bit of Japanese, tell them about the origin of the name of my business (Isogo is a town in Japan!), and tell them how enthused my soul is that they are bringing this life-changing paradigm to a country and people I grew to love.
The unexpected can be summed up in this: This movement is not driven by clicks and codes. It is driven by changing lives.
I have to admit my skepticism at certain points over the past several years. What is the Gallup motivation? Why did they open their fists on the use of the StrengthsFinder tool? Do they care more about the Strengths-change-perspective or the Strengths-dollar-potential? But now, so long as Paul Allen leads the charge, I know what the message will be.
Life should be lived in a crescendo not a decline.
Lives can be changed. Dramatically. Permanently.
And others, like Jim Clifton, echoed the words of his father, to fuel the movement for life-change.
There are seven billion ways to lead a life. We need to study them all. We need to coach them all.
The unexpected in this all?
This is all way more than lip service. They believe, as adamantly as I do, this Strengths paradigm is world-changing.
Granted, I was a bit disillusioned by the announcement of the Gallup Exchange and a lack of transparency in the cost structure. But I get it. I’m not sure how I would have rolled it out differently. It will be an incredibly valuable community to join. The technology potential is exciting in the Exchange and in the rollout of CliftonStrengths all under one roof, with easy accessibility to the coaches who make all the difference.
As Jim Clifton said:
This is not a CliftonStrengths movement. It is a CliftonStrengths coaching movement. The assessment on its own lays flat. It’s about a discussion not about a test.
There were certainly skeptics around me during the Summit who think perhaps they shoot too high. That the idea of nurturing Strengths from birth takes it all too far.
But, even from someone at the daybreak of parenting, I see that honoring, respecting, and encouraging strengths, even from birth, could actually impact the world we want to make.
If every home started by asking what is unique and genius and beautiful, then maybe we could rise above the hate and strife. The brokenness. We could be engaged in our work. We could be energized in our families.
We could truly soar.