"It is human nature to look at what we lack rather than what we have"
I first did my StrengthsFinder assessment couple of years ago when I was a full-time Youth Pastor in a local church in Singapore, specialising in youth training and development. After finishing the online StrengthsFinder assessment, I had Activator, Communication, Strategic, Achiever and Command in my top 5 results. I took time to read through the descriptions of each talent theme. There were mixed emotions when I got my results. I was a little skeptical and I had many questions running through my mind.
"How can it be that I do not have any strengths in the relational building or the blue domain?" I was a little concerned. (To be honest, "a little" is an understatement). I had a job that requires me to understand people's needs, to care for others genuinely and to reach out to new people on a regular basis. What that meant to me was that I needed very strong relational abilities in order to excel in what I do. I did my own research: watching many different StrengthsFinder videos and reading many different StrengthsFinder articles. I was really hoping that my concerns will be unfounded.
"It is not just human nature to look at what we lack, it is also second nature to reinforce that mindset by looking at others and comparing."
It became more disturbing when I compared my results with those of my colleagues in church and I saw that they had the strengths that I thought I should have in order to succeed in my role. As someone who spent a lot of time mentoring and training young people, I felt that it was important for me to have StrengthsFinder themes like Empathy, Developer or Relator. I have none. In fact, I have none of the nine themes that were classified under the relationship building domain. These nine are Empathy, Developer, Includer, Adaptability, Connectedness, Harmony, Positivity, Relator and Individualization. How could it be that I was a Youth Pastor in Singapore for so many years without any relational strengths being in my top 5? I began to doubt the validity of the StrengthsFinder Assessment.
Are you one of those who felt the same way as I did after you got your StrengthsFinder results?
The interesting part came after the emotions have settled and I started to think a little deeper. Have I been successful in my work as a Youth Pastor? Have I been given affirmation and positive feedback on what I did even though I do not have those “strengths” that I thought I should be having?
- Have I shown to people under my supervision that I care even though I do not have the Empathy theme?
- Have I been an encourager to the youth who were struggling even though I do not have the Positivity theme or the Developer theme?
- Have I been welcoming to newcomers to the church even though I do not have the Woo theme?
- Have I been able to shown to my team that I am a person they can count on even though I do not have the Responsibility theme?
As I reflected, I realized I could say an emphatic “YES” to all of the above. And that is without having a single “blue” strength or StrengthsFinder themes that belong to the relationship building domain. I realized now that I have somehow innovated my strengths and have reached the outcomes I desired as a Youth Pastor. More importantly, I reached the outcomes using my own strengths in my own unique ways.
Today, as a StrengthsFinder Coach who has conducted multiple workshops in Singapore and across Asia, I have taught with great passion that it is not so much about the talents we do not have but how we use the talents we have to achieve the goals that we desired:
- A high performing individual can execute even if he does not possess a single strength that falls under the StrengthsFinder execution domain.
- A high performing individual can influence even if he does not possess a single strength that falls under the influencing domain.
- A high performing individual can care genuinely even if he does not possess a single strength that falls under the relationship building domain (this happens to be me).
- A high performing individual can strategize and ideate even if he does not possess a single strength that falls under the strategic thinking domain.
High performing individuals know what they are very strong at. They use their strengths to overcome their lack or they find ways to manage their weaknesses.
As I strive towards high performance, I now work hard on three key areas:
- I now focus on my top StrengthsFinder themes intentionally. I make a great effort to reduce the number of times my themes will manifest in the infancy stage (or otherwise known as basement or raw stage). I do that a lot by personal reflection. I actively solicit feedback from those I trust and work with. I try to have a debrief after a conflict occurs to find out what aspects of my behaviour hinders the relationship.
- I focus on seeking different partners who can help me overcome different areas of my weaknesses. I have specific go-to people (usually 2-3 individuals) for each of my areas of lack that I have identified. For example, I have found some with the Discipline theme and some with the Responsibility theme to help me stay organized. I have found some with the Positivity theme and some with the Empathy theme to give me feedback on my abilities to encourage and care for others.
- I also intentionally focus on building one attitude - cultivating thankfulness. As I choose to reflect and give thanks regularly, I am often required to focus on the things I have rather than those I lack. I have found that this attitude is an important aspect to developing a paradigm shift from the deficit thinking model to the Strengths-Based thinking model.
Concluding Note: As you ponder about the things I have said above, I will like to leave you with a challenge to focus on your StrengthsFinder themes, one at a time. Give thanks for each of these themes that you have and ask yourself how you can aim it meaningfully in your professional and personal life.
Written by Victor Seet
Activator • Communication • Strategic • Self-Assurance • Command
As a Gallup Certified Singapore Strengthsfinder coach, Victor is passionate about strengths engagement and now runs his own training company, Strengths School™, based out of Singapore. He has been actively giving Strengthsfinder leadership and team building workshops to businesses and schools in Singapore as well as Hong Kong, China (Shanghai) and India.