Before we moved to Japan, we bought a Lonely Planet Phrase Book. When we touched down at the Tokyo Narita Airport for the first time, we had to reference the book for EVERYTHING—even for words as simple as “hello” and “thank you.” We were a foreigner-sight-to-behold—nose in a book, sounding out 9 syllable words in a disjointed cadence, hoping that when we looked up over the top of the book, someone would string the unrelated sounds together and grant our requests. We trusted the book to be accurate, to communicate to others the thoughts in our heads. Turns out that the half-crazy looks we got when asking for water were well-founded—how were we supposed to know that “WA-TA” is actually not the word used for “water” (ever!)?? Guess we should have referenced the book on that one!
StrengthsFinder is like that little Phrase Book.
The land of Talent and Strength is a foreign one. We have a difficult time identifying and describing the things we do most naturally, as if it were a far-off place. We do them without thinking, so, well, we don’t think about them. In order to let others (and ourselves) into our land of Strengths, we need a Phrase Book–we need help to learn to speak the language of Strengths and put common words to our Talents.
If, for example, you love telling a story, you effortlessly start a conversation, you enjoy presenting, people seem to pause to listen when you talk, and you might even have gotten in trouble for talking too much a time or two, that is Talent. But what do we call it? What is the word for it? How do I define it and describe it to you so you understand me? Open the StrengthsFinder Phrase Book and we see, those Talents can be summed up as COMMUNICATION strength.
Or what if you are fiercely loyal, incredibly reliable, thrive on more, and kick-it when given the freedom to own your work? What kind of Talent is that in this foreign Strengths land? Phrase Book says…RESPONSIBILITY.
When Talents are internal and invisible, we can drastically misunderstand each other. I can ask for “WA-TA” over and over—louder, slower, more enunciated—but until we are using the same words, that internal and invisible desire or request stays a mystery…and may even become a frustration. We find ourselves thinking…that person must be a luny-bin, asking for something I do not understand—the way he’s acting doesn’t even make sense.
An inability to communicate in the same language just may be mistaken for absolute lunacy.
The GALLUP Clifton StrengthsFinder, as it is officially called, is an online assessment tool that gives you a simple language to describe your Strengths. It uses your intuitive response to 177 paired phrases to uncover your most natural patterns of thought, feeling or behavior. Then, it looks up those patterns in the proverbial Phrase Book and presents you with your five most common and most powerful natural tendencies. These five words are your Top 5 Talent Themes or Strengths.
Then, all of a sudden, you are not only exploring the foreign country, you are speaking the language.
And, you just might get that glass of water after all.
- Can you list 5 of your most powerful and unique talents off the top of your head? Try it. Could you do it?
- Has “the way you are” been frustrating to a spouse or friend around you? Tell this story to a friend. Have them reflect back what may have been frustrating to the other person.