Find a Fresh Start in your Strengths

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As we begin another new year with new goals (or recycled ones), people are eager to make those lasting changes once and for all.  To find a new career direction, to awaken their passion, to purposefully live their values.  And although it is vital to have solid goals to reach these new milestones, it may be more beneficial to take a step back and take the long-view of your past to create the new view of your future. For my coaching clients who have created fresh starts, I started by asking simple, open-ended questions such as:
  • What do you consider to be your true accomplishments?
  • What gives you energy?
  • What drains your energy?
  • When you’re not concerned with what others think, what interests you?
  • What did you dream about as a child?
From the answers, I look for patterns.  What keeps popping up for this client? What are the themes?  This generally moves us on to identifying the values of the client and discerning what’s really important to her.  When does she really shine? One resource I recommend when clients are looking to create a fresh start is the book, Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. Based on the research from Donald O. Clifton and the Gallup organization that first appeared in the Marcus Buckingham book, Now, Discover Your Strengths, this newest book provides a map of 34 strengths.  The whole premise of the Strengths Psychology movement was to “start a global conversation about what’s right with people.” To that end, the researchers discovered that people have several times more potential for growth when they invest energy in developing their strengths as opposed to correcting their deficiencies. Their research provided some eye-opening results. They found that people who have an opportunity every day to focus on their strengths are “six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs” and more than “three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general.”  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  We feel most alive when we’re able to use our strengths instead of feeling like we’re in a trance when we slog through the day starved of using our strengths. In the back of the Strengths Finder 2.0 book, readers receive a unique code for an online assessment that reveals their top five themes of talent or strengths.  Sample strengths include: Achiever, Connectedness, Developer, Futuristic, Ideation, Positivity and Woo (winning others over). The book includes a description of each strength, ideas for action and working with others who have the strength. One of my five top strengths is Input.  This strength is described as, “You are inquisitive. You collect things. You might collect information – words, facts, books. It’s interesting. It keeps your mind fresh.”  Which explains why in almost every one of my CAWLM articles I reference a book or tool.  I love helping people in this way – sharing resources, ideas or contacts. The downside of Input is that it pains me to throw anything away for fear that I might need it or one of my future clients might need it.  (Don’t come look at my office – unless you’re a professional organizer, in which case, call me!) In the chapter on the Input strength, the author encourages leveraging all that information gathered and not letting it stagnate. Hence the thrill of writing a coaching article for this magazine. In using this valuable book with my coaching clients, we look at how well their current job utilizes their top five talents and how they might suggest redesigning their job to better capitalize on their talents.  If a complete fresh start is required, I’ll have the client use the action steps from the book, start to research other career options, maybe take a class or interview people in the new desired field of work. As you embark on this new year, give some thought as to how you can use more of your signature strengths to create a fresh start.  Look for opportunities for you and your strengths to shine. Here’s to a happy, healthy 2012!
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Tags: Discover Your Strenghts, life coaching, Now, strengths, Strengths Finder 2.0

Susan Combs

Susan Combs, MBA and Professional Certified Coach, works with coaching clients to create fresh starts, enhance their leadership skills and increase their confidence. She is an authorized licensee of the Fit Leader's Program. Susan provides one-on-one coaching, DiSC team-building training and manages corporate mentor programs. She lives in Lansing with her son, Max, and their golden retriever puppy. Visit SusanCombsCoaching.com or MentorRoadmap.com for more information.