From Broken to Brazen: A Strengths Story

Murray Guest Story Feature

He sat on the hard floor outside his classroom. The touch of cold tile reached up through his grey school uniform and chilled his legs. He shivered. At seventeen years old, it was not the first time he had been asked to leave the classroom during roll call.

In fact, it had practically turned into a daily ritual.

From the time he spoke his first words at 10 months, he has always loved to talk. He lived life openly, expressively, constantly using his words to process the world around him. As the third born in a rowdy house of four boys, he discovered early on that his words were what helped him stand apart.

So he talked. And talked. And talked.

He became known for it.

It was like he could not stop. Maybe he couldn’t. Early and often, his grandfather exclaimed—sometimes in jest, sometimes in exasperation—that this young, boisterous boy could “talk underwater with a mouth full of marbles.” He never stopped.

He wanted to be heard. He wanted to stand out. He wanted people to listen.

Be Heard

And he was heard alright. He was heard as impalpable, annoying, bothersome, impatient, lacking self control, loud, incessant…like a dripping faucet that echoes into the stillness of a dark apartment, never quite tight enough to be sealed off.

During roll call in his third year of high school, his teacher had had enough. If he could not stop talking and disrupting, he would have to sit in the hall.

As he sat there, day after day, knees curled up to his chest, staring at the cracks in the hallway tile, he started to wonder what was wrong—why he could not seem to stop talking, why his thoughts barely made sense until he said them out loud, why others did not seem to have the same challenge, why he could not manage to fall into line. He wondered what was wrong— what was wrong with him.

And that is what he started to believe. There was something intrinsically and significantly wrong with him. He was flawed.

In his last year of school, with his confidence waning and his mouth spouting, he found himself at the brunt of jokes, on the outside, betrayed by the people he called his closest friends. One spring day, on the way to school, he was beaten up so severely that he had to be rushed to the hospital with a concussion.

Broken, flawed, betrayed.

Several years later, in the fresh moments of his first job, he found himself energized by speaking up boldly in meetings. Yet, as he talked and processed, his words wandered aimlessly through the forest of his thoughts, and his colleagues—the ones he was trying to impress—threw glances of confusion and annoyance. They rolled their eyes and leaned toward the colleagues next to them with whispered disdain.

Once again, something was definitely wrong…with him.

He found solace in a budding new relationship. She was striking and relentlessly fun. Her dark hair bobbed around her shoulders as she locked her eyes with his in a way that gave him attention he had never before experienced.

They engaged, married, had two beautiful children, and settled in for the life of his dreams. And, it was very much dream-like, until one day, it was as if he rolled over in bed and the twilight of his dream had turned into the most haunting of nightmares.

It crept in slowly, as many nightmares do. Eye rolling and contempt had replaced the doting glances and attention. His shins developed bruises from the subtle kicks he received under the table in an attempt to curb his stories and humor. She had a box for him to behave in, and the strongest parts of his personality just did not fit. 

Boxed In

Oh, how did he try to fit. He tried to talk less. He tried to live less openly. He tried to dream less and think practically more. And he tried not to take it personally.

But, it was personal. Deeply. The same feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy and flaw plagued him once again. There was something deeply wrong with him.

As he desperately tried to claw his eyes open from the depth of his nightmare, it spiraled into forever darkness when he found no love remained and discovered her infidelity. Whatever flicker of confidence was left within had been extinguished.

Life was completely dark.

Today, Murray Guest is a successful, confident, happily married, vibrant human.

For over a decade, he has been faithfully supported by a loving wife. She had been told to avoid this divorced man with two children, but to his forever gratitude she did not heed this advice. She brought into his world confidence, spontaneity, and inner belief—she lit up the room, and he had fallen madly in love. Together they brought a beautiful boy into the world.

Flowers Couple

He runs a multi six figure consulting and coaching business where he has inspired confidence, culture and engagement in many organizations, and thousands of individuals. He is a leader in his industry and is known for his compelling stories, big dreams and inspirations, and meaningful connections. His kids admire and respect him.

He exudes content happiness and expectant confidence.

What happened? What changed to take him from the darkest, dampest of dungeons out onto the bright balcony of his own life?

Intervention. As he crawled up from the bottom of his nightmare toward the pinpoint of light that was above, he discovered that he is not actually flawed. He discovered that there is nothing wrong with him. In fact, those things that were wrong and shamed and discouraged—since the cold halls of high school—are actually brilliant parts of what makes him unique.

In that very uniqueness, he found success.

The intervention came somewhat on accident, in the form of a psychological and emotional assessment called StrengthsFinder. He happened upon it as a requirement of a new business he had just joined. Something that he did to check the boxes ultimately changed his life.

Among his Top 5 most natural patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior was a Talent Theme labeled Communication. He was astounded to see bits of the inside of his mind written in the description of this supposed talent:


…Ideas are a dry beginning. Events are static. You feel a need to bring them to life, to energize them, to make them exciting and vivid. And so you turn events into stories and practice telling them. You take the dry idea and enliven it with images and examples and metaphors.… You want your information – whether an idea, an event, a product’s features and benefits, a discovery, or a lesson – to survive. You want to divert their attention toward you and then capture it, lock it in…. This is what draws you toward dramatic words….


These words started to open his darkened eyes to an entirely new way to look at himself, at the way he most naturally thought and talked and behaved. And oh, did he see the raw application of this talent splattered all over the disappointments and dark places of his life. Yet now he had the tools, and understanding, to turn sporadic splashes of paint into an intentional swirling of color that served others, and made complexity simple to understand and left a lasting impact on their hearts and minds.

Paint life

In 2014, as he found himself in a corporate environment where his most natural talents and Strengths were being starved, he birthed a dream. Fighting through existing patterns of self-doubt and lack of confidence, with the support of a wife who gives him freedom to be expressly who he is, he made the decision to follow his talents and start his own consulting and coaching firm.

Years later, he has never looked back.

If you would have told that confused, bloodied teenager laying half-conscious in a hospital bed, or the outcast coworker who could never quite say the right thing, or the devastated husband who sat in the pieces of his broken marriage, that he would one day be running his own business and teaching others about building confidence in who they are and how they are wired, they all probably would have laughed you off with a disdainful roll of the eyes.

“Impossible”, those eyes would say, “I know something is wrong with me.”

Yet, perhaps there might have also been a shimmer of hope in his eyes as well, amidst the confusion and brokenness, that somehow, someway something truly vibrant could become of him.

And indeed it did.


Links & Resources from today

Murray Guest | Inspire My Business
Isogo TV Episode 19 | The Hidden Power of Weakness
StrengthsFinder is Life Changing | Follow Your Star {Step 4 of 9}
9 Steps to Life-change through your Strengths
Strengths Startup

StrengthsFinder LifeChange Checklist Ad Image

Subscribe Youtube

StrengthsFinder Isogo TV Subsribe iTunes

My little ask?

As always, one of the best places to join the conversation is over at our Facebook Group — Energy Up Frustration Down by Strengths. Join us for weekly chatting, complaining and commending, 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.

In the meantime and beyond, I would love to hear from you and help you. So, 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 Facebook or Twitter, both @isogostrong, or by this handy contact form.

Enjoy your day, and {be strong}!

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