When strengths come out to play, it can either be a party or a wake. I may have created both in the same moment. Whatever it was I learned something about who I am in the process.
We were each given a piece of paper. On the page was a grid. Names were listed and each person had their five strengths identified. It looked something like the picture to the left. The task before us was to do the following:
- Circle two or three strengths that appear on the same horizontal line within a colored section
- Circle two or three strengths that appear in one column.
Instructions were given.
Papers were handed out.
I started circling and finished the task no more than ten seconds later.
Only to look up and see the three other people seated at my table staring at me.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
Their looks made me think we were suppose to work on this task as a team. But, I clearly heard individually find the pattern and then have a conversation.
“What did I do?” I continued.
Before anyone could utter a word, I was thinking, “Aren’t you done with this? Oh, wait, you haven’t even started.”
What?! you haven’t started?
Stop. Sara. Just. Stop!
Those 30 seconds may have lasted an eternity, until the gentleman sitting next to me, quietly offered, “Ummm, how did you do that?”
“Do what?” I asked.
Oh. Brother. (actually, my words were less gracious.)
I just showed three executives in the hotel industry with decades of experience and leadership what strategic and achiever look like on steroids.
I buried my head in my book and apologized. What happened next was the breakthrough moment for me. For years I have had coaches and leaders say to me, “Sara, you may need to help people understand how you got there.” I usually smiled and nodded, agreeing in principle, but not understanding the impact of the words that were spoken on my life and the lives of others.
My strategic talent allows me to see patterns. My achiever talent allows me to get it done. Throw maximizer in there and I will see the patterns quickly. Strategic & achiever together with maximizer resulted in a moment that will likely stay with me for awhile.
It was day 4 of a seminar. I knew these three men were intelligent businessmen. They spoke multiple languages, they were leaders in their corporation.
Yes, I beat myself up for a few moments. I found myself apologizing again and again. When one of the men finally saved me from my misery and asked, “So how did you get there?”
We backed up and I walked them through the process. The simple explanation of the process changed my whole experience of what happened at that table. And, while I can’t speak for the other three, I think it did for them, too.
I came to see that I can explain to others how I arrive at my decisions and thought processes. They came to see what it meant to find and identify the patterns within a team to create an opening for a coaching conversation. We came up with great questions for the team, formed a hypothesis to test with their leader, and recognized talents can have an edge until they are fully developed.
What I learned in that moment about myself helped me to see the power and edge of beginning with the end in mind and getting things done. I am grateful for my strategic & achiever talents. I am even more grateful that I am working to make them strengths. I loved the challenge of seeing how the patterns interact with one another on the grid to help the team accomplish their best result. I also loved experiencing what it means to be on the receiving side of me with people I do not work with on a daily basis.
When I got up from that table, I did so recognizing there is power in the talents I have been given. There is also joy in helping others to see the pattern that so easily emerged before me. That’s the power & edge of strategic and achiever coming together.