Are your Strengths Calibrated?

At a recent Strengthsfinder meetup in Sacramento California hosted by 34Strong and Youth Development Network (YDN), Adrian Ruiz, YDN’s Executive Director and a Gallup Trained Coach just needing to take his certification exam, asked this simple question of the audience seated in the large meeting room at the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Sacramento. The word calibrate as defined by Merriam Webster is: to adjust or mark (something, such as a measuring device) so that it can be used in an accurate and exact way.

So…how does calibration apply to our strengths? When we discover our talent…we have discovered our greatest opportunity for success which comes through the application of these talents in an accurate and exact way. That is ultimately when they become strengths. When our talents are being overused, or misapplied, they are un-calibrated…possibly leading to dissonance of some sort. Utilizing our talents from an un-calibrated perspective ultimately may force us to a place of discomfort.
But…we all are aware of those times when we were very much in “the zone.” These moments of brilliance come when intentionally, or, by mistake, we find our talent calibrated just correctly…and being utilized in an accurate and exact way. The question to consider is what if you could more intentionally be in a place of calibration for your strengths?

In a recent session, a client, “Amy” shared a profound story with one of our coaches. Amy worked in the higher education field as a Director and was struggling to improve retention for certain courses. These 2 online courses had the highest dropout rates of all courses offered and Amy embraced the challenging task of improving retention. At the start, Amy was unsure of what to do to increase retention. However, she unknowingly (at the time) figured out how to calibrate her talent to achieve success by increasing retention within these courses.

Her Maximizer theme initially did not like even seeing the subpar retention rates and made her want to move away from this problem toward something that she could see having a much greater chance to achieve sheer brilliance. With a huge desire to improve results, her Learner theme kicked in as Maximizer wanted to move on, and allowed her to take a deeper dive of the results, simply trying to understand the problem more deeply. Once she had a better grasp on the problem, her Intellection theme kicked in. She just let her mind work, thinking and contemplating…who would need to be involved and how could an action plan be developed and implemented. Intellection allowed her to strategically connect the dots. Positivity showed up to the theme party just in the Knick of time to make the relationship connections that were needed once her other themes had identified some strategies.

As the right relationships were cultivated, her Maximizer reengaged, kicked back into gear and helped influence the different parties toward implementing the strategies that would lead to the results that initially they all did not see as possible. Once implementation started, Input was present during the regular meetings they established as the team. Amy was able to collect input and produce output about the successes and setbacks they were having with rolling out their initiative. Every week, Amy was taking it all in, processing new information and figuring out the pieces of the puzzle with her team. Over this 10 week quarter, their efforts ultimately lead to improved retention. At the start of this session, Amy indicated that her top 5 did not indicate that she had any executing abilities and she was unsure on how she got things done. At the end of her session through her own “confession,” she saw her talents alive and being a critical part of getting things done and accomplishing some serious results. Retention rates for these two courses significantly improved the following quarter and have maintained, because of her work and ultimately her calibration of talent.

We will all be in situations, where our talents may be overused, or underused, but it is reflecting on those times where we know they are calibrated that will allow us to have more opportunities for calibrated strengths.

The questions for you to think of are this:

Have you ever observed any one of your strengths in a situation where you believe that one theme was fully calibrated?

Have you experienced any times where multiple strengths were calibrated in tandem like Amy’s? Think about what that looked like, and give yourself 6 minutes to re-hash this scenario to find the brilliance.

The key to spending more time in the calibrated strengths zone is to reflect on the times you have found yourself in a calibrated strengths zone. This exercise will allow you to connect the dots to what ultimately lead you there. To quote Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford commencement speech address again: “You can’t always connect the dots looking forward…but you can when you look back.” When you have connected your Strengths dots looking back…it will open up the door to setting yourself up for more situations to connect them going forward. You owe it to yourself to reflect on these times. Imagine if you got to spend more time in the calibrated zone…or better yet, imagine if your whole team got to spend more time there…what could you accomplish??

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Darren Virassammy is Co-Founder and COO of 34 Strong Inc. Darren is also an Instructor at Heald College, where he teaches courses in Entrepreneurship and Business. His top 5 are: Achiever, Arranger, Relator, Learner and Responsibility. Once aiming and applying his strengths, Darren quickly realized his natural ability to find and unlock peoples’ innate talents was something he was very passionate about. Operating in his Strengths Zone, Darren saw the opportunities to help more people and organizations through the formation of 34 Strong.

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