Lead Through Strengths Facilitator Strother Gaines - Helping You Figure Out What To Do When You Don't Like Your Strengths
This episode is all about the situation when you don't like your strengths — or you don't think you like someone else's strengths.
It's easy to stereotype one of the CliftonStrengths talent themes, good or bad, when you only take a cursory glance at it. It's also easy for your talent to masquerade as a weakness if you have the volume turned up too high for the situation.
Here's the transcript of the interview with Lisa Cummings and Strother Gaines as they explore the nuances:
Lisa: You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings.
I'm always saying it's tough to find something more energizing than using your strengths every day at work. And today, the topic of the podcast episode is about those moments when you're asking yourself —
“Oh, should I not use my strengths at work?”
“Are these not good ones to have for a given job?”
Or, “I don't know that this talent theme is going to be well appreciated in the work culture that I'm in, so maybe I should just bring it down a little bit because I don't think people at work are going to appreciate it.” This will help you figure out whether it should go into hiding when you don't like your strengths.
The format is going to be a little bit different in the following series coming up for the podcast here. I actually have Strother Gaines joining as a co-host, he's one of our facilitators here at Lead Through Strengths.
So many times now people are experiencing facilitators other than me when they do training classes on CliftonStrengths, StrengthsFinder, strengths leadership development, etc. And so I thought, wow, our customers and our podcast listeners need to get to know these amazing facilitators. So, coming up over the next weeks and months, you will be getting to meet many of them.
In the next six episodes, you'll meet Strother, where I'm having a conversation with him.
Having A Case of ‘Bad’ Talents? Don’t Like Your Strengths? We Get You
Lisa: We're talking about that thing today, where you get your list, and you're loving a few of them, but one of them is leading you to think —
“I don't know about that one... I don't think I would call it a strength... I think I want to get that one back.”
“Can I see my #6, 7, 8, 9, 10? Can I choose from some other ones?”
So when I jump into this interview with Strother, you'll see that we are cracking up a little bit because I had just been a klutz in the office and caught my pocket on the table in the office.
And so we're busting a gut a few times in these episodes. I'm going to do an intro for each one, I'll do a closing for each one. And if you hear us jump right into some laughter, well, yes, some shenanigans are probably going on me being a klutz, or us goofing around.
If you want to see some of the shenanigans and silliness - things we were doing where we're playing around in the office - then make sure that you watch the video version. At the end, I'll include some of the outtakes so that you can see them there.
So let's jump right in to talk about what to do when you don't like your strengths.
Shifting Perspective When You Don’t Like Your Talent Themes
Lisa: Let's say you take the CliftonStrengths assessment, and four of the five of them you're like —
“Oh, yeah, these are so me... I love that, but that one -- well, I mean, it's kind of me, but I don't really like one of my strengths…”
Or, “I don't really think that in this workplace they're gonna love it. I don't want to be seen like that... I don’t know if that would be valuable here or even accepted here if I let that one out.”
So what's your opinion on that? What do you do with it?
Strother: Well, I totally had that happen in mine. I have Significance in my Top 5, and to me when I read Significance, it came across as like, “Tell me I’m pretty… Tell me I did a good job..."
I need everyone else to tell me, like, “This is a good thing.” And one of my greatest fears in my work is that I required external validation. Everyone tells you to find that joy, find all of that inside of you. And then my StrengthsFinder came back and it's like, “No, you actually need people to tell you what’s good. And I was like, NO.
But then, after I sat with it for a long time — you encouraged me to, like, “Stay with it for a little bit...” — I started to find that it influences so much of the types of projects that I take on, and it helps me actually delineate what I would be good at, what I would be excited about, and what I'm not.
I'm not great at something that I'm not passionate about, and I don't like creating something that doesn't have that feedback loop where I get someone else's opinion or other people are collaborating with it. It's re-visualizing how you conceptualize that strength. Find a way that you can tilt that so that it is still you...
Your ‘Bad’ Strengths Are Good Enough To Make You Stand Out
We've talked a lot about “basements and balconies.” Do you have a strength that's in the basement, and that's where you're viewing it from? What does it look like when it's fully actualized, when you're actually taking control and being intentional about it, instead of letting it run the show underneath all of the things, that when you look at it, you go, “That's the thing I want.”
Then it's a lot easier to bring it out, even in a culture that might not support it, because that's your unique offer. This is a tricky situation - training participants will often say that you save a talent for your home life because you don't like your strengths for work purposes.
If it's something that doesn't show up a lot, if you have a rare strength, you're going to stand out. And standing out can be challenging sometimes, but it's also the thing that's going to get you noticed. Most of the time, anytime you want to move forward, first you have to get noticed. So use it, like leverage that weird thing and make it your strength.
From ‘Irrelevant’ Strengths To Workplace Impact
Lisa: I love how Strother framed this one out for you, as a way to bring your unique offering to the workplace. We always talk about your differences being your differentiators. So, instead of thinking of a strength as something that you need to squash down and say, “Oh, maybe I have a bad strength...” — which is an oxymoron — use your strength fully, figure out how to mature it, and get the most out of it.
Now sometimes people feel like they have skills that aren't relevant on the job. This is definitely a case where you might wonder what to do when you don't like your strengths because they don't feel helpful in your current role.
For talents, we're talking about something different. We're talking about how you naturally think, or feel, or act when you are at your natural best, and you wouldn't want to squash those out — because it would be squashing down the best of you.
With that, thanks for listening to Lead Through Strengths. You've been getting to meet Strother Gaines, one of our facilitators from DC. In the next episode, you will hear us talking about how to not feel arrogant when you're talking to other people about your strengths. We'll see you there.
Want More Ideas For What To Do When You Don't Like Your Strengths?
A while back, Lisa interviewed Ben Fanning on what to do when you think your job isn't a good fit for your talents. Ben was funny and insightful. He gave lots of ways to reconnect with what you like about work, build a personal brand around strengths, and to mold your job in that direction.
Ben wrote a whole book on the topic called The Quit Alternative. The book is excellent, and it hits on a common situation where people think they might need to quit their job to be content again. If you read Ben's book, you'll almost certainly think that the grass isn't greener on the other side — it's greener around the corner of the same company.
Another episode you might like to explore is the one where Lisa answers the question of what to do when you only have 2 of the colors in the CliftonStrengths lineup. This is another situation that makes a typical training attendee say that you don't like your strengths.
Carmie is a professional writer and editor at Lead Through Strengths. Having spent 8 happy years with a nonprofit child organization as a storyteller and sponsorship relations team manager, she continues collaborating with others across the globe for the joy of human development and connection. Her days are powered by coffee, curiosities, cameras (film and digital), music, notebooks, and a cat. Where books are home, she’s home. She calls her Top 5 StrengthsFinder Talents “CLIPS” (Connectedness, Learner, Intellection, Positivity, and Strategic)–you know, those tiny objects that hold connected things together. She’d like to think she’s one.