Hong Kong, London, Sydney: My eyes lit up with excitement as I read the location list for upcoming Gallup courses. I had been dreaming of attending the Accelerated Strengths Coaching course for a while, but with work, kids, and a pending move, none of the dates worked. Wait a second. Omaha? Yep, that’s right, one course date worked, and it was the one taking place in Omaha, Nebraska. Setting aside visions of world travel, I signed up for the pilgrimage to the mecca of all things Gallup.

I was first exposed to Gallup in 2010 through their Strengths Finder Assessment, an online tool that helps people understand their talents—the things that they are naturally really good at and which—when they exercise them—energize and build them up rather than deplete them. The tool is grounded in decades of rock-solid research based on two fundamental assumptions—assumptions that I love:

  1. Each person’s talents are enduring and unique.
  2. Each person’s greatest room for growth is in the areas of his or her greatest strength.

Instead of pouring time and energy into marginally improving weaknesses, we can clearly identify our talents and be intentional about bringing those talents to bear. As a result, we are more engaged in our work, and others view us as more competent and effective. And when a team begins to operate this way, the whole becomes much larger than the sum of its parts.

I have seen the benefits of working to understand and utilize strengths first hand. On the last team I worked on, we used the tool during an off-site planning session. After taking the assessment individually, we came together and I helped facilitate a discussion about our results—the five strength themes identified by the web-based assessment. The team conversation was natural and fun; it gave us all a common language to discuss our strengths without sounding egotistical. Team members spoke candidly about what parts of their jobs played to their strengths and even what tasks depleted them. It was also meaningful to discover how diverse our team was—and to see how our diversity made the team stronger. We walked away from the discussion with specific, concrete insights about how to work more effectively together.

When I Co-Founded Task Force 144 in 2014, with a vision of developing exceptional leaders and great teams, I knew I wanted to include the Gallup tool in our work. Knowing that I was going to use the tool professionally, I wanted to take my knowledge to the next level.

This brings me back to the introduction and my trek to the Gallup Headquarters. I made the drive through the cornfields of Nebraska and showed up in Omaha bright and early on a hot July morning, ready to learn how to more effectively coach people about their strengths.

Over thirty professionals from all walks of life gathered on the gorgeous Gallup campus for five intense days of world-class instruction. We dove deep into Talent Themes for individuals learning how to help people turn those talents into strengths and leverage those strengths to make practical impact in their lives.

After looking at the tool through the lens of individuals, we studied the tool in the context of teams and the powerful impact it can have on bottom-line results in a business context. Coaching took on a new dimension for me when it shifted to helping managers use the tool to position their employees in roles that activate their strengths. A manager who is equipped with this kind of knowledge can have a transformative impact on his or her organization.

New knowledge is captivating. How do I know? I spent ten hours in the Gallup classroom and then I passed up on the sauna. Instead (get this!), I took the book to a hole-in-the-wall margarita bar around the corner and spent the evening studying!

“Every now and then a man’s mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.” –Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

I left Omaha incredibly fired up to finish the remaining requirements and to integrate the newfound knowledge in my work with Task Force 144. I spent the next few weeks processing the mountain of information covered in the course and preparing for the written examination. Once I passed the test, I set my sights on the final requirement—six coaching sessions. My experience as a financial counselor put me at ease with clients, and I could barely contain my excitement to begin.

Opening each of my clients’ “Top Five Strengths” reports felt like tearing into the first package on Christmas morning. Although each packet looked like a few sheets of ordinary paper, to me it was privileged insight into the talent DNA of people I greatly respected. These reports paint a picture of what makes each individual great and you can’t help but smile reading them. I spent a long time researching my clients’ themes, finding their likely and paradoxical pairs, and digging into their theme dynamics in order to provide them with as much knowledge about their unique talents as possible. Each of the sessions flew by—guiding my clients through their reports, clarifying questions, and providing new insights into how they can become even more effective moving forward.

If you are interested in learning more about having an officially certified Gallup Strengths Coach develop your natural talent or unleash your team’s potential, please contact us at: info@activateyourtalent.com. We would love to customize a plan that works for you!