Stand Out - Focusing on Strengths

Back in the fall, I had the good fortune to take Marcus Buckingham’s Stand Out assessment and hear him speak on deploying our strengths in our jobs. I’ve always been passionate about developing individuals, so I took this exercise to heart. Of course, this is to be expected from one identified as a Teacher-Creator…someone who “improves performance one person at a time”. One of my expectations of my team members has always been to put to use one or two strengths in getting things done, but I would also identify weaknesses for them to work on. After going through this training, I realized to get the most out of my team and their development I needed to make almost the entire development conversation about identifying strengths and how to use them. So I have been working on this new approach, and hopefully my team feels they are benefiting from it.

I’m sure you are asking why you are being subjected to a discussion on how best to develop talent in a Hundred Hole Hike blog. It is because one thing that is resonating with me right now is how a focus on strengths is so important for all of us, including those with developmental disabilities. And this has a very strong connection to the cause for which I’m Hiking.

One of my biggest dreams for all three of our kids is that they find something to do that they love and in which they can maximize their potential. For Alijah, I worry that his strengths will not be recognized in the same way that they will for my other kids. Hopefully, that is an unfounded worry.

Of course I’m biased, but Alijah definitely will have some strengths. Given how curious and without fear he is, he will definitely be a Pioneer, described as: “You see the world as a friendly place where, around every corner, good things will happen. Your distinctive power starts with your optimism in the face of uncertainty.” Alijah certainly peaks around every corner…and opens every drawer, goes through each cabinet, pulls all the toys out of the basket, climbs on things he shouldn’t, etc. I don’t know how much he has expectations on what will happen, but given the frequent smile on his face he must expect good things. My first guess on his secondary role was that he would be a Creator, described as: “You make sense of the world, pulling it apart, seeing a better configuration, and creating it.” He certainly likes to pull things apart…we don’t call him the Destroyer for nothing…but the jury is still out on how well he will put things back together. So I’ve settled on Influencer, described as: “You engage people directly and convince them to act. Your power is your persuasion.” Alijah definitely knows how to get his way. If he wants uppy, he will keep putting his arms up and follow you around until he gets his way. He has a lot of personality, and he makes it very hard to say “no” to him.

Not that long ago, his strengths would not have mattered much. But, thankfully, times they are a’changin’. Organizations like the Down Syndrome Alliance of the Midlands are working hard to ensure that when people are around Alijah, they are thinking Pioneer-Influencer rather than Developmental-Disability. Thank you so much for your spiritual and financial support for my Hike and in helping Alijah and others like him develop and deploy their strengths!

This Golfer's Participation