Research and my own experience have convinced me that very few people have an easy time identifying their natural talents. (How did you do when I asked you for just 3 of yours?) Instead, most of us tend to harp on and try to improve our perceived weaknesses, which is usually frustrating and perhaps even fruitless. Wouldn't it make more sense to identify innate talents (or "themes") and work on developing them into strengths? But, you cannot "discover your strengths" until you know what raw materials you have to work with. So what are your innate talents?
In my coaching practice I use the StrengthsFinder (it is correctly spelled) Profile along with handwriting analysis. Here is how it works. The client obtains the book, Now, Discover Your Strengths and uses the code included to take the online questionnaire. (The code can only be used once. It must be a new book to ensure that the code has not been used already.)
The questionnaire consists of 180 questions that ask for your top-of-mind responses. It is fun and easy to take and the results will give you insights unlike any profile you may have taken in the past. I have interviewed many who have taken it and they have all confirmed it changed their life once they assimilated the results.
When I heard about the book a year or so ago I decided to read a library copy. After considering each of the 34 themes or talents as they were described I scored myself.
Later, I bought the book and took the online questionnaire. My personal scoring only matched 2 of the 5 when compared to the official scoring. Once I reviewed the descriptions and then deeply considered how I usually have approached things all through my life I could see that the official result was a better fit.
As the book explains, the end result gives you a laser-quality pack of five top strengths to apply in every area of your life because they are fully transferable.
After clients identify their talents I analyze their handwriting. I have yet to find that a handwriting did not corroborate the results of the S.F. Profile. The two assessments provide a great foundation to begin a coaching relationship—truly a headstart for the client and me.
Both the coach and the client need to understand the descriptions of the 34 strengths, which are each listed and described on a single page of the book, Now, Discover Your Strengths. The book is easy and essential to read because it rounds out the understanding of why it works, it answers questions people are bound to think of later and provides background on how strengths may influence each other.
Among the rave reviews listed on the Amazon page were some critical comments from some purchasers who thought that the book didn't go far enough in explaining interrelationships of strengths. "So, now that I know what my talents are what do I do with them?"
Would it have been possible to cover all the possible combinations of 5 out of a possible 34 talents? No. According to the book, there is only a one in 34 million possibility that two people could have the same set of 5 talents in the same order.
So, taking the profile is just the starting point. It is an eye-opener to see how you have used the talents you have—or not. Handwriting analysis shows how people view themselves: how clearly they think, how stable, intense and consistent their emotions are, as well what fears get in the way. This information is discussed very kindly and very gently with clients. That, coupled with the SF Profile results, becomes the basis of our coaching relationship.
Talents are inherent. Our work together adds encouragement, more knowledge or access to it, and my support to help clients make even better life choices.
By the way, I have no connection with the Gallup Corporation, the source of the S.F. Profile. I do have an affiliate relationship with Amazon. If you choose to order a book through the link to the left I will get some credit but that does not cost you more. It is a small commission paid by Amazon and I use it to help keep this weblog afloat.
I want to tell you more about my results with the StrengthsFinder Profile and some of what I have learned since.