Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Now find your strengths

Rubi Ho, one of our church deacons, is exploring a new ministry. He's calling it Passion Quest -- he uses the Clifton Strengths Finder to help people analzye and discover their innate strengths and then he takes them through a process of self-reflection to discern their true passions so that we can more appropriately point them toward ministries that suit them.

I really like this Clifton Strengths finder -- more than any other "assessment" tool I've used. Don Clifton worked for the Gallup organization, and in his consulting work he found that most companies focus on correcting weaknesses. You have a hard time with time management or conflict resolution, then your boss will send you to training to imrove those weaknesses and then expect you to do better. Of course, we always need to work on improvement, but Clifton becaome convinced that we put too much effort into improving weaknesses and too little into leveraging strengths (think the 80/20 principle -- 80% of your results come from 20% of your producers -- thus you should pour your best time and energy into that 20%). Clifton began to develop an arena of "strengths psychology" -- he focused on what people did well and how to maximize those strengths.

For the purchase price of the book "Now Discover Your Strengths" I received access to the online strengths finder assessment. This questionnaire drilled me through a barrage of questions (just like Myers-Briggs, DISC profile, etc) and then it gave me a list of my top five strengths (out of 33 possibilities) (innate potential -- it did not say how well I've developed the strengths -- simply that they reside there latently).

Here's my five strenths (believe them or not):
INPUT (I like receiving lots of information and putting it in my collection)
POSITIVITY (I have a preference for optimism and looking at the positive side of things)
STRATEGIC (I weigh potential options and potential outcomes)
CONNECTEDNESS (I see interconnections among disciplines, people, ideas, and things)
INTELLECTION (I enjoy working in the realm of ideas)

Now here's the rub, Clifton encourages folks to play to their strengths and manage around their weaknesses as best they can. I like this. It's simple -- it's not putting us in a box. It's identifying tools with which we can work. I like it because it points us to gifts that God has given us; I like it because it sets us in a stewardship mindset.

I have been interested that some people going through the process have been disturbed because they didn't like their strengths (particularly the "command" strength -- the ability to command attention and followership). It seems that some folks are assigning a value judgement to the strength itself, rather than realizing that the strength is a tool that can be used for blessing or for harm. I'm not sure what all the issues are there, but it is a pattern that I've seen in a few people.

Looking forward to seeing where Rubi's work goes...
Soli Deo Gloria