“How do you feel?”, I asked my daughter after our conversation.
“I feel totally awesome!” she exclaimed.
My son was not as expressive with his feelings as his sister after our conversation. However, in his easy-going way, he said, “I feel good.”
The conversation with my young adult children was about their talents. Talents are the lens that each of see the world through, it’s the thoughts, behaviors and feelings that naturally come to each of us. When time, knowledge and skills are put towards talents, then strengths are developed.
As a parent and educator, I am always excited when I learn a new skill that can benefit both myself and my family. The Strengths Communicator’s training with Leadership Vision has taught me a deeper understanding of the importance of knowing your strengths. I attended a two day training session in January and in March in Minneapolis. In between the training sessions I conducted six strengths conversations. After the last training session I completed six more conversations. The six-month training has allowed me to be a professional “story listener” as I listen for the behavior of strengths through the stories people tell me about their lives.
The Clifton StrengthsFinder is a tool that I have used with youth and adults over the past eight years. I first learned about the tool through leadership training and have used it extensively with the Girls Lead program.
The training gave me the privilege of having conversations with twelve people about their top five strengths. I was able to talk to family members, friends, colleagues, and complete strangers about their unique perception of life through the lens of their strengths.
The training allowed me to practice my listening skills and improved my understanding of the inter-dependency of the various strengths Each strength cannot stand alone. I imagine knowing your strengths is like the iceberg model:at the top of the iceberg are your top five strengths and the basic understanding of each strength. However, below the surface, the commingling of behaviors of each strength is supported by the culture, context, and environment. This commingling influences the perspective of each person to see the world through their own unique strengths lens.
People want to be listened to and heard. Each person also wants to know they matter and have value. I would end my conversations asking the person if they would like to hear what I had heard in the conversation. I reflected on the parts of the story that demonstrated strengths in action. Very rarely are people given the gift of having another person listen, reflect and identify their genius.
I have been an educator for over 25 years in a variety of different roles. My passion is to work with youth and educators to create positive learning environments –environments where people can thrive. What would our education system be like if we were all able to identify our own strengths and our students’ strengths? Then educators would be able to tap into those unique strengths and use those strengths to the advantage of the learning environment. I believe helping both youth and adults better understand their strengths can be one piece of the puzzle in creating positive learning environments.
The conversation with the people that volunteered has helped me to build a deeper understanding of how each of us sees life. I can now see the strength of Achiever in my son through his hard work, where I didn’t before our conversation. I now know that my daughter uses her strength of Strategic to think through alternatives to problems she needs to navigate in her senior year. I believe that deeper understanding and opportunity to listen to people’s stories has shown me the resiliency and beauty in each person.
If you would like to find out more about my speaking, training and consulting with educators and nonprofits in creating positive learning environments, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.