discover and develop your strengths

coreclaritybannerI have a new passion. No doubt about it. I love coaching people through discovery of their talents and strengths. Absolutely love it.

Successful people
their talents and strengths
and build their lives upon them.

My husband and I attended a CoreClarity training last spring. That week prepared us to explain Gallup StrengthsFinder results for individuals and groups. This summer, we had numerous opportunities to coach family members, individuals, and couples.

Every time we talked through top talents with people, I watched eyes open wide in recognition, hearts soften with greater understanding, burdens of frustration and self-condemnation wash away, and hope reappear in the soul. 

It was amazing actually.

It is an encouraging experience to grow in self-awareness and self-acceptance, but it is even more powerful to grow in understanding and appreciating the important people in our lives. 

Successful marriages (or teams)
dont just accommodate differences in each other,
they capitalize on them.

If you have never done the StrengthsFinder assessment, I highly recommend it. There are specific assessments you can choose for adults, college and highschool students and even middle school students. After you receive your top five results, find someone trained in CoreClarity to review your results with you. You can do this for yourself, as a couple, for your family, or in a seminar format for your whole team.

You will learn :

  • why it is more important to develop your strengths, rather than focus on improving your weaknesses
  • how to develop your talents into strengths
  • to correct the myths that everyone thinks the same way we do or that everyone has the same talents we do plus what we see in them that we do not have
  • how your top talents affect each other and how your combination creates the unique you
  • how different talents intensify, combine, or collide with other talents
  • how talents understanding helps build and repair relationships, improves problem solving and teamwork
  • how to use your talents to enhance your career

You might also want to attend a facilitator training so you can coach others!

Do you already know your top talents? How have you applied that knowledge to your life and relationships?

Please leave me a comment if you have any questions about CoreClarity or StrengthsFinder. I’ll be glad to help in any way that I can!

chess not checkers

I don’t even know how to play chess, but I loved this book! chess not checkers

In typical Mark Miller style, he writes the book as a story, weaving humor, wisdom, care, and pragmatism in a quick, easy-to-read format. The main character, Blake Brown, takes a new CEO job in a struggling organization. Work is frustrating and drudgery, teamwork is non-existent, morale is weak, and customers are going elsewhere. The game has changed, old strategies aren’t working, and losing is miserable for everyone.

Blake begins to meet with a chess master mentor who teaches him four simple – yet essential – principles for playing a new game in today’s complex world:

1. BET ON LEADERSHIP – Identify and invest in emerging leaders. Mark gives excellent tips about developing yourself, your team, and the organization.

“…proactively develop your leadership.
The earlier in their career you invest in them, the better.”

“Leadership growth always
precedes organizational growth.”

2. ACT AS ONE – We know this as alignment, and it requires excellent communication. Mark describes it with a helpful illustration:

“Think of your organization as a car
driving at high speeds down a bumpy, dirt road.
The car will constantly be knocked out of alignment.
Part of your never-ending role is to keep the organization
aligned on what matters most.”

3. WIN THE HEART – Greater engagement happens when you allow people to contribute their unique gifts and work using their personal strengths.

“This is the way you need to look at your people.
When you deploy them thoughtfully,
you create greater value.”

4. EXCEL AT EXECUTION – This involves the important areas of resource allocation, measurements, and systems versus personality design.

“To help your team improve execution,
measure what matters most.”

There is much more in the book. I highly recommend that you pick up a copy today!

Any leader who implements these timeless principles will grow personally and improve the game plan for their team and their organization.

Which of these principles is most urgent for your situation? How can you apply new and improved strategy in your context?

Check out the great book trailer video HERE!

You can also find Mark Miller blogging on his website, Great Leaders Serve.

I also wrote a summary and review of some of Mark’s other books: The Secret and The Heart of Leadership. 

“The Secret” to great leadership

The SecretHappy 10th Anniversary to “The Secret“!

The book, The Secretis celebrating its 10th anniversary, and I gladly reviewed the anniversary edition. Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller wrote The Secret. It is a quick and easy read filled with powerful principles to apply to any leadership role. Here is just a taste of the excellent content:

“No matter how long the runway,
that pig ain’t gonna fly!”

This is a great way to remember that the purpose of training and development is not to “fix” people. People can learn and improve, but they will always be more powerful in their areas of strength… and never eliminate their areas of weakness. A key responsibility for a leader is to “fit” people into a role that is good for them, a role that matches their strengths.

In order to “fit” people into their best role, a leader must know the vision and the roles necessary for accomplishing the vision. The leader must also know their people well.

The BE, DO, HAVE, and HELP Framework²

Blanchard and Miller mention this framework taught by Bobb Biehl. The tool is helpful for getting to know your people and building a deeper relationship with them. The idea is to ask someone to share the top five things they would put in each category: five things they want to be (ex. a better mom), five things they would like to do (ex. attend a special event), five things they want to have (ex. more family time), and five people/areas where they would like to help (ex. favorite charities). Then, as the leader, look for opportunities to resource these areas – provide a ticket, a mentor, a network contact, a training, a workload/hour adjustment, etc.

The SERVE principles 

SERVEEach letter stands for one of the five key principles of leadership success. The book’s entertaining and effective story format explains each of these principles.

There is also a helpful self-assessment on these principles included in the book.

If you want to improve your leadership, I highly recommend this book. If you read it ten years ago, maybe you would like to read it again!

What do you think is part of the secret of leadership?


¹ Blanchard, K. and Miller, M. (2014). The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. (p. 70)
² Ibid (p. 94)
Celebrate 10 years by reading a #freesample of #TheSecret by @kenblanchard & @LeadersServe here:

how to know yourself better

reflection morguefile webDo you like homework? Neither do I… usually.

However, this fall I had to do a homework assignment for our Global Leadership MA class that I want to recommend to you. It was, by far, the most encouraging homework assignment I have ever done. The exercise is called “Your Reflected Best Self” (RBS), and it is fully described in the Harvard Business Review article, “How to Play to Your Strengths” from January 2005.

The exercise is not designed to build your ego, although it might do that. A while back I wrote about how we often receive six comments of negative feedback to one positive. The RBS is a systematic tool that balances out that ratio by discovering or confirming strengths and potential. With some analysis and application (done best with the help of a coach), you can use the information gained to develop a plan to maximize your talents at work and in other areas of life.

It works like this:

Step 1: identify a variety of people to give you feedback

Chose 10 to 20 people – family, past and present co-workers and bosses, friends, etc. Send them an email like this…

Dear XXXX,

As part of my personal development program, I am constructing a profile of the ways that I add value and contribute. I am contacting twenty people who know me well from a variety of relationships: family, friends, co-workers. I am requesting that each person provide me with three stories of when I was at my best and my strengths were meaningful to them in some way. I would like to invite you to help me with this exercise.

I appreciate you taking time to do this for me. Please provide specific examples so I can understand the situation and the characteristics you are describing. One short paragraph will be fine.

1. One of the ways that you add value and contribution is: _______

For example….

2. Another way that you add value and contribution is: _______

For example…

3. One last way that you add value and contribution is: _______

For example…..

Please email your responses to me by XXXXX.

Thanks so much for your help!

Step 2: observe patterns from the responses received

Enjoy reading the email responses! A good way to see the common themes is to create a chart. It might look something like this…

Common Theme

Examples Given

Possible Interpretation

Ethics 1. I stood up to a peer who was crossing the line of ethical behavior. 


I am not afraid to choose right over wrong.
Team Builder 1. I coached our softball team. 

2. I created a work group for a big project. 


I thrive working with others.

Step 3: write a personal profile and compare it with your day-to-day life

After you summarize the feedback, you will know yourself better and the tasks, atmosphere, and relationships that energize you and facilitate your strengths. You can then evaluate where and how often you get to use your talents. Those are likely the times, projects, and situations where you are most encouraged and most productive. If you are not using your best self very often, you can understand why you feel tired and discouraged.

Step 4: redesign your job 🙂

It is not always possible to redesign your whole job, but sometimes there is freedom to make a few key adjustments. We can also make changes at home to allow more time for the people and the tasks that bring out the best in us. This is when coaching is helpful – to think through where to make the changes… and help us actually follow through.

I learned a lot about myself by doing this exercise; I hope you will too. If you decide to try it, please let me know what you find out about your Best Reflected Self!

not all about me








sore neck.

work hard.

can’t sleep.


My stressor this week was an on-line music competition for our son, Matt. He needed views, votes, “likes”, tweets, etc in order to move through the brackets and win his dream-of-a-lifetime to be the opening act for a more famous YouTube star, Tyler Ward, who is doing a U.S. concert tour.

We – the committed, slightly crazy parents – did all we could to rally support for Matt. We facebooked and tweeted; we emailed; we cajoled our co-workers to get on-line; we shamelessly begged our friends to vote each day. We investigated winning strategies and stayed up too late at night watching the results roll in.

We believe in our son and want to support his dreams in any way we can.

We also have our own lives and work and responsibilities and have to put limits on what we can do for him. There were times when I had to shut down the computer and stay away from the “competition world” for a while. Other times when I had to “let go” emotionally of my desires for his success and remember…

This is not all about me.

It doesn’t all depend on me; I am not indispensable.

I’ve had to remember that lesson at work as well as with my family. I can get over stressed about a project, a goal, a desired culture change, a responsibility and forget… I am not the only one active here. Just as Matt has other friends and fans that support his music, I have other teammates, mentors, and resources that I can – and should – involve in my projects.

When I trust only in myself and forget to partner well, I miss out on the strengths, talents, encouragement, wisdom, support, ideas, energy, finances, prayers, materials, etc. that others bring to the table.

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
African proverb

I firmly believe that together is better than solo. Friends, co-workers, fans, family, partners, and mentors are crucial in my world… because this is not all about me!

How do you handle your stress?  How do you battle the “all about me” attitude?

****PS He did win the competition! 🙂

know your strengths

This week, I had an opportunity to work through various assessments that help identify my abilities. Myers Briggs (ESTJ), StrengthsFinder (Achiever, Learner, Input, Focus, Relator or Includer), Birkman, DISC (high I), SHAPE, and Spiritual Gift tests are just some of the resources available for greater personal awareness. They are also helpful for analyzing group or team dynamics. I appreciate these tools for continual growth.

Do you know what your strengths are?

I have been through many of these assessments through the years; some of the tests have been re-taken with very similar results each time. The atmosphere was not always the same however. In some past occasions, the profile results felt like a curse; they brought judgement and accusation from team members; they gave credence to team conflict but no hope. This time, it was encouraging to look at the results, fun to compare with my team, helpful to consider how we can work together and compliment each other on projects and tasks. I think I have matured over the years and can accept myself and appreciate others more.

Have you ever been misunderstood or criticized because of your strengths? Do you appreciate the differences in others?

The facilitator this week offered this encouragement; she explained that the profile was similar to one spoke of an umbrella, helpful to support understanding, but unable to offer a complete framework of identity. Although it is useful to know my strength areas, I may sometimes be called to work out of my weak areas also. My attitude and flexibility when that happens say a lot about me (my character) also. And while building on my strengths is strategic, I cannot neglect my weak areas or use them to excuse irresponsibility or lack of results.

What are you doing to develop your strengths? Are you aware of your weak areas and their effect on others?

I have found it really helpful to have a coach or mentor who helps me develop a plan to build my strengths. I choose one or two strong areas for further growth and one weak area. Next, I identify specific things that I can do to work on those areas. Sometimes it is helpful to consider any root causes that may have influence. My coach reviews my plan, checking to see that it is realistic, and then meets regularly with me to check on my progress, offer tips/advice, and encourage me. Those coaching appointments give me accountability and impetus to move ahead with my plan.

Do you have a coach or a mentor? Do you have a plan for personal development?

If you have any questions about this, please let me know. I believe that it is important to know and work out of our strengths – we have more joy and productivity in our life… and offer more grace and appreciation to others!