Unleashing Natural Talents – How we became better us’s
Disclaimer: Work Wife Wine Time supports the responsible consumption of alcohol and discovering your talents so you can harness your natural abilities and become a more powerful you.
Get your copy of of Mikala’s CliftonStrengths 34 Themes of Talent Summary at: www.workwifewinetime.com.au/cliftonstrengths
Hi everyone, Mikala here with a quick note about this episode. Our original recording included the full complement of work wives: Gemma, Rowena and myself. However, unfortunately, due to some unfixable tech issues we’ve had to cut Rowena’s track from the episode. With some creative editing, we’re still really happy with the way it’s turned out. And hope you enjoy it.
Hello, and welcome to this week’s episode of Work Wife Wine Time, Gemma and Mikala here with you today and we hope you’ve had an awesome week and kicking butt in your business. But now it’s time to put your feet up, relax and enjoy this episode, because you deserve it. Now, today, we’re speaking about Clifton Strengths, your zone of genius and how discovering them can transform your business and how it transformed all of ours. Think about this, what if every day you got the chance to do the things that you do best? Strengths coaching is all about what’s right. It focuses on what you’re naturally good at so you can learn and understand what that means and put your talent to use in situations where it benefits you and those around you. Doing this creates the unique opportunity to live your life to full potential and be the best version of yourself. How good does that sound?
Our amazing Clifton Strengths expert is of course the wonderful Mikala. So Mik, can you please tell us first of all, what are Clifton Strengths?
Clifton Strengths is a whole new way of looking at yourself and focusing on what you innately do best. It used to be called Clifton Strengths Finder, and it’s essentially an online assessment which was created under the leadership of Don Clifton, who was an educational psychologist. Basically, how it came about was he returned from World War II after flying b24’s as a navigator and a bombardier, which is basically a member of the bombing plane who operates the bomb sites and actually releases them. And essentially, he felt that he’d seen enough of war and wanted to spend the rest of his life doing good for humankind instead. So this led to an intense interest in studying human development. However, one of the things that he noticed right from the start, was that all of the psychology books he could find were focused on what is wrong with people. So that naturally led him to pose the question for his study, “what would happen if we study what was right with people, versus what was wrong with people?” So basically, he and a team of researchers at Gallup spent 40 years researching this, and speaking with 2 million successful individuals, and the definition of successful is basically that they’re doing life right. They feel balanced and happy. Yeah, so it’s not so much in terms of financial wealth or anything like that. So it was 2 million successful individuals from 48 countries. And they used all of that research to develop the Clifton Strengths tool. So the online assessment presents you with 177 paired statements, and you need to choose which one best describes you and to what degree. This is how they measure your talents, so your natural patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. And it basically categorises them into the 34 Clifton Strengths Themes of Talent. So when we say strengths, we’re actually referring to the Themes of Talent. You’re dominant in up to 10 themes, but the coaching that I offer actually focuses on your top five signature themes. So the ones that are the most prevalent and dominant in your day to day life.
Fantastic. And yeah, it’s brilliant, and it’s an amazing study. So then, can you explain a bit more about what’s the zone of genius?
Yes, so the zone of genius, on the other hand, is your unique power. So it’s the one of a kind quality that you bring to your life and your work. And let you do certain things better than anyone else. So while we might share common skills or interests or workstyles with others, your zone of genius, basically can’t be replicated by anyone else. It’s just what you individually do. And it’s not a term used by Clifton Strengths, however, one of MY top five themes of talent is connectedness. And what that means, or what that allows me to do, is to see how everything is related and connects together. So for me, zone of genius really just describes beautifully how all of your strengths work together to make us all amazing individuals. So it just totally makes sense to me to use that term in relation to Clifton strengths.
Wonderful, love it. And then can you tell us, what does discovering these do for people personally, and in their business as well?
Basically, discovering your themes of talent, it gives you a tool and a starting point from which to approach the challenges and obstacles in your life. So for example, with me, whenever I come across something in my business, or my life, but more so in my business I think that drives me insane, like, you know, those tasks that you have to do? Like, for me, it’s social media, it’s planning out my social media for the month. I kind of sort of maybe find it a little bit fun, but I also find it a lot of hard work. So what I do is I look at my top five strengths and go, “Okay, which one of these can I use to get this task done? Which one or combination?” Generally, you can look at a combination of three. So, “Which three of these are going to best help me to get this done? And then what aspects of each of those can I use to do this task?” So it really shifts your mind frame on things that you have to do and it’s looking at it from– okay, basically, what you’re saying is, “how can I use the things that I’m really good at, to get this task that I find annoying or frustrating or, you know, overwhelming, completed?” So that’s how you can use it in your life. And I just wanted to say too, the main thing that drew me to strengths coaching is that it focuses on what you already naturally do well, so not areas in which you’re lacking, or you need to improve on. And for me, personally, I find that focusing on what I already excel at, and finding ways to make that even better, feels more motivating and empowering than looking at, you know, areas in which I might have a weakness or, you know, need to work hard to try and change that. So, yeah, Clifton Strengths really just gives you a whole new mindset and a language to understand and communicate who you are and what you do. So you can approach your life and everything in it, including those challenges and obstacles, from a place of empowerment and positivity. And using the tools that you’ve naturally got.
Absolutely. It’s like a personal business tool. You’ve already got them, so I guess once you discover them, it’s, like you said, how you can use them for your benefit. It’s a fantastic concept.
And I think, now, let’s lead into and we’ll start with you, Mik, how has it changed your business once you discovered your top five?
Well, for me, it really allowed me to work out– it really allowed me to niche down in what I offer. Having, particularly in my top five, I do have my full 34, I’ve unlocked the full 34. So I can see in order from one to 34 what my strengths are. Or my themes of talent are, but it’s really the top five that I like to focus on. So I looked at the things that I do well and just went, “Okay, so how do these relate to what I do in my business?” And funnily enough, everything that they matched perfectly with were the things that I really enjoyed doing, the things that I really felt we’re giving value to my clients. And yeah, it was the parts that I really enjoyed and that I got excited about. And the parts of my business that didn’t align with my top five were the things that I tended to, you know, keep putting off and really struggle to focus on and to do like, the projects for clients that it was just I wasn’t feeling it and it was all, you know, cracking the whip on myself rather than feeling motivated to jump in and get it done. So that’s how it’s really helped my business, it really helped me get clear on what I wanted to do and who I wanted to serve and how I wanted to do all of that. Whereas before, I was kind of doing a bit of this and a bit of that, but now I’m like really super focused, and I know what I love. And also, if another opportunity comes in, I can kind of use my top five as a bit of a yardstick. It’s like something new comes in and I’m like, “How does this fit with what I’m good at with what I enjoy?” And if it fits well, and it can lead to other opportunities that would allow me to grow more in those areas, then I’ll take it on. And if it doesn’t, then I go, “Yeah, no, it’s actually not what I want to do.” So it helps me make decisions in that respect, as well.
Absolutely. And then can you reveal to us what are your top five?
I can. So, in order– So I’ll tell you a bit about what it means and how it works for me. So my first one is Input. And what that means is I love to collect information. So I like to learn new things, collect resources and mainly do it in a way so that I can share it with others and refer to them later. And Input, it can be collecting information. It can also be collecting things like you might find people that have, you know, collections of ornaments, or coin collections or stamp collections, that sort of thing. They can also be quite high in input. And high in input means that, you know, it’s towards the top of your list of things, of talents. So the way that I’ve nurtured my Input is I’ve learned to capture and organise my ideas and resources using an online database-style tool. So I use Evernote. So several times throughout the day, as I come across really awesome resources or I think of new things, I pop them into Evernote and I tag them with different tags and things so I can pull them up again later, when I want them, which happens quite often. Someone will ask me a question, and I’m like, “I’ve read something or I’ve captured something on that!” And I just go back in and search through Evernote and can pull it up. So then how I leverage this in my business is I share my collected information with others by writing blog posts, social media posts, newsletters and podcasts. So that’s my number one. Number two for me is Empathy. And what Empathy means to me or how it shows up in my life, is I instinctively understand the perspective of others and I can anticipate questions and adjust my communication better to meet different people’s needs. So the way I nurture it is I try as much as possible to interact with my clients via zoom. So that way, I can see their facial expressions and pick up on nonverbal cues. Because when you’re talking over the phone, you can’t always hear– this gonna sound weird, but you can’t always hear what a person is thinking through their voice, whereas the face gives so much away. So that’s what I do there. And the way I leverage it in my business is I reach out and offer support to clients. So that can sometimes be a firm nudge, because they’re running behind on their timelines for something we’re working on together. Or it can be a patient ear, like if I get an email from someone just going, “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, I haven’t got to this. I’m so stressed.” And it’s like, sometimes I’ll just shoot them an email and go, “Hey, don’t panic, think of things from this point of view, or maybe break it down,” you know, I can offer advice to try and help them cope with whatever they’re going through at the time. And I often share my own experiences and make suggestions that can help get them back on track and cope with things better. So that’s how Empathy works. My number three is Intellection, which means I love to think. So give me a problem to solve and the time and space to mull it over and I am absolutely in my element. And as you two know, I often do my best thinking in the shower, because you often get– or on my morning walk. But yeah, my shower thoughts are quite legendary. I often have an idea and then email these two once I get to my computer and go, “Oh, I thought of this this morning!” But the thing with the Intellection is I really need the time and space to do it. It’s not something– it’s kind of like, I think if you, Ro, with your creativity, we’ve had the discussions it’s not something you can turn on and off when you need it. Like it comes to you. So I’ve got to allow the space and time for that. I’ve actually found that the last three weeks, I’ve had so much on and I’ve been working ridiculous hours. And I hadn’t been giving myself the time and space to think. And I was actually getting really frustrated and really anxious. And I kind of finished that, and then I gave myself a day off. And oh my gosh, all these amazing ideas came up and, you know, it’s like all of this stuff that needed to get out and couldn’t get out, which I think was causing my frustration and anxiety. But yes, as soon as I gave myself the space, that all came out. And so how I work with this is, I go for a walk on my own almost every morning following the same route so I don’t have to think about where I’m going and I can just let my mind wander and daydream and explore new ideas. And the way I use it in my business is I allow myself a few days to put together proposals or advice and recommendations for clients. So that way, I can be sure I’ve had the time and space for my mind just to wander and solve those little problems and connect the dots. So I do that to ensure that I really am giving the best to my clients, just allowing that time and space and communicating that to them. So that’s number three. Number four, for me is Developer, and Developer means that I see the potential in everyone and everything. So my mind is always alive with possibilities, and receptive to opportunities to help challenge and grow people and ideas. And the way I nurture this is I’m always exploring ways in which I can further develop the training, coaching and consulting aspects of my business. So always trying new things, which kind of comes into the Input a little bit. And I also jump at the opportunity to engage in collaborative projects with others, particularly when it involves developing a new business idea. And then finally, my number five is Connectedness. Now, this one I mentioned briefly earlier, so when making decisions and working with people in projects, I like to take a step back and consider where we and this thing fits into the greater scheme of things. So I ensure that I only engage in work and with clients that align with my values and doesn’t knowingly cause harm to others, or the environment, because I see, again, how all things connect together. And I also believe a lot in social responsibility, which is sort of another element of connectedness. And the way I leverage it is by starting my Tech Mindfulness movement. So because my business focuses strongly on the importance of tech and using it to enhance our lives and business, to balance this out, I make an effort to lead by example and offer complimentary content about decluttering your digitals, detoxing and unplugging from our digital lives in devices. And I also try to provide information so that others can make informed decisions about the tech that they choose and how they use it. So that is my top five.
So Gem, how about you? What are your top five? And how have they been playing out since we did the coaching and you became more aware of them?
Well, I’ll begin with my top five revealing them first. So, my top five are Strategic Command, Ideation, Restorative, and Intellection. Now the reason I wanted to say all five first is because for me, the way they intertwine and work with each other is remarkable. And all I can say is that doing this, changed my life.
And that was very strategic of you stating them all first there.
So, we’ve all heard about Strategic, but it is my number one, and it’s so fascinating to me, Ro, because my brother and I actually thought we were MacGyver. We used to play MacGyver. We used to run away down the street, take a few things with us and see what we could do with it. Yes, we MacGyver-ed our way through everything.
I feel like I missed out not having Strategic in my top five! I loved to MacGyver!
And what I remember when I discovered Strategic, the words that stuck out to me is that you ‘discard the paths that lead nowhere.’ You know, and you ‘always strike forward’ and I’ve always done that. You know, it’s like, “What? This path doesn’t lead anywhere? Well, I ain’t wasting that time going down that yellow brick road to discover the wizard is just a man behind a damn curtain! No, thanks! Stop that! Next path, please!” Really! I’ve always done that. And I think as well, that for me how I grew up and where I grew up was very, it was a very ethnic community, and everyone was sort of from different backgrounds, but they all held those same values. So since I was very, very, very young, I always knew I was different, I was always the different child, I was always, “What’s wrong with her?” type situation. So I think discovering these talents for me, was like, “Woah, there’s actually nothing wrong with you at all!”
Not at all!
Yeah! Which leads me into my Command. And, Mik, can you explain Command for us first of all since you’re the explainer-er.
Sure, will Command is about having the ability to step up and take charge when it’s needed. So people with Command, it doesn’t mean they’re going to be the ones that are pushing forward going, “I’ve got this, everyone do what I say.” It’s more about, if the need is there, they will just quietly step up and do what needs to be done. Sometimes not so quietly.
And that is me. And for me, what I found fascinating about command is that it’s most uncommon to have if people have this and for me, it was my second because I remember when I read it, I need to share things with others and I feel no discomfort with telling people things. And I need to present the facts and the truth no matter how unpleasant people might find that. And then it really led into people are often intimidated by me. And this is something I’ve been faced with my whole life. “Why are people intimidated by me? I’m so little, like a Chihuahua! But I don’t, I don’t get it!” You know, I always had the, “You’re intimidating,” and, “You’re opinionated,” and, “You’re this.” And it was so difficult because I’m not trying to do that, I’m just taking charge and if there’s, again, something that needs to be solved or a problem or whatever, I’m here to step up and take charge. And I’ve always had this natural ability to get a giant group of people and just have them either listen to me or organise the situation of what’s happening and take that Command. Like, “Okay, well, this person is really helping us, and doing this,” and I’ve just always had that natural ability to do it. But the one thing I really found interesting about that is that people are always drawn to people with Command.
And it’s really interesting, and we also have this ability of persuasion, which again, I guess, leads me into thinking, “Ah, I probably ended up doing the right thing. Persuasive writing!” I mean–
And it leads me into my third, Ideation, which is ideas. I am fascinated by ideas like all of us. I don’t have shower ideas, I’m more of a in bed at 3AM ideas type girl, which kind of will lead me into my Intellection, but– And it’s just amazing because what it says in intellection, is that, ‘you see things from strange and enlightening angles,’ which I’ve always done. I’ve always looked at things from a completely different way than other people do. And then I always thought, “Well, there must be something wrong with me. Why doesn’t anyone see that from this point?” And I remember speaking to you, I think it was just last week, Mik, having one of my 3AM moments. And believe it or not, it came from the fact that I woke myself up at 3AM needing to think more about my Command. And that took me back to my childhood of when I was the girl in the playground that came up with these amazing ideas and games to play and I would actually have girls line up, I went to an all girls school that comes from my strict background. I would actually have them line up and say to me, “Gemma, what are we playing today?” Because I will come up with these amazing, fascinating games and everyone was like, “Oh, I want to do that!” But it was always, why didn’t anyone then, say that I was creative? It was always, “Ah, you know, she does this and she–” what was the word I used, Mik?
Oh gosh, um.
Whereas everyone’s just like, “Oh, you know, she–” no, imagination!
Yeah, “Oh, her imagination runs wild. She has an amazing imagination.”
At 3am in bed, that annoyed me. Like, why do we call it imagination? Why do people call it imagination in a child? How about you get that and find that, you know, talent and say, “This child’s actually super creative!” Whereas just getting rid of that is, “Oh just a wildly, you know, unnecessary imagination.”
Yeah. And something that’s almost superfluous.
Right? Right. So anyway, leading into my Restorative is I like to solve problems. So then again, this is my entire life explained, I am the person people ring when they have a problem, no matter what it is, “Oh, Gemma will know how to fix it. Gemma will come plan to fix it. Gemma’ll help me. Let’s call Gemma. Gemma can do this!” And I remember reading between Ideation and Restorative, your best sort of career goals down those two are advertising, marketing, all of those things might– Yay! I did two of the right degrees. Go me! And then which leads us into Intelection. Now for me, this one was really interesting, because being the person I am with that high Command, at the same time, I need to be alone, desperately. And I never knew why I needed that, and no-one ever understood that because I came from a giant Italian family, where you have to have 30 people around you at all times. Which would send me into some kind of just stress, anxiety, everything. And I never knew why. And no one understood why I crave that alone time. And it’s because I have all these ideas and all these thoughts and everything. I need to think about them, I need that time alone. So with Mik’s coaching, I now before I go to bed, I write everything down because my problem is keeping myself up all night because I haven’t had that time to think about those thoughts, process those thoughts. Yes, I do still wake up at 3AM thinking about things but I can’t help that. It’s just who I am. And I also pose questions to myself constantly. I need to answer them to myself, exactly like we just spoke about with the imagination and the creativity. And what I really like there is that I’m my own best companion and I always have been.
Sometimes I need to just sit and stare at a wall and think and no one’s ever understood that. And now it just makes perfect sense to me as to why need to do that. Why I crave that.
Absolutely. And one of the really good things that I found with it is understanding Intellection I can now verbalise it to people. Like my partner would get really upset when I’d go, “I just need you to go away for the weekend,” or, “I need to go away for the weekend.” I just need 24 hours on my own. And it’s like, it’s got nothing to do with them, it’s because I just need a quiet space just to be, so all the thoughts and the ideas can just do their thing. And I even do it to the kids now. The whole family used to get really upset when I’d go, “I just need to not be around other people.” Like they’d take it personally. But now I understand what Intellection is so I can explain why. So yeah, people don’t get offended then. They’re just like, “Oh, yeah, she’s just weird. She needs time alone.”
Rather than being, “Oh, you’re just being rude. You need time alone.”
Yeah, right? And I think for me, it was even that one more difficult step because I’m one of those weird introvert-extroverts, whereas I possess all of those sort of introvert qualities like that being alone and needing time alone, needs to think.
But my personality screams extrovert so it, for me because of that, it was like this constant fight. But why did people get me?! It’s because we draw our energy from our own space.
You know, and it’s so important. And for people that don’t do that, it’s quite a clash. But yes, anyway, so that’s how those strengths changed my life.
I just want to say one of my favourite sort of Ideation/Intellection moments with you–
I was editing our SEO podcast episode yesterday, and I don’t know if you remember this from it, but I made a comment about Google being a verb. And you totally– like it was only a short comment, and you totally lost your train of thought on what you were saying. Because you then go, “Ah, but then I was thinking like, hmm, do I need to look that up?” And you like–
I don’t remember doing that.
Okay, I HAVE to put like a bloopers reel or something together. It’s so funny.
I don’t remember doing that at all.
You just went totally blank. And you went, ‘I can’t think what I was going to say now, because now I’m thinking about Google being a verb and I need to go and think about that some more and what does that mean? And how does that work?” My daughter, Ella, when I first did my coach training, I actually got her to do the Clifton Strengths assessment, they do have a children’s version, but I got her to do the adult one. ‘Cause she tends to be a lot more mature in her understanding of things. And the strengths that came out in her, like she had Achiever and Learner. And I was amazed but not surprised to learn that she had those. But it was really interesting because– and I think they teach different things in school now, obviously, to when we went there. But when she found out she had Achiever and Learner, it was absolutely no surprise to her. She’s like, “I know. I know I do that. I know exactly what that’s all about.”
Oh, okay Ella!
And it’s, you know, it’s like–
Rowena Preddy 32:03
[Inaudible] over here just rediscovering yourself, but if you already know [inaudible].
Yeah! I know! But imagine if all kids used the tool early on, like I’m yet to do it with my son, he’s only just started high school, and I want to do it with him before this year’s out. But if all kids did a version of this, and then started playing to their strengths, instead of trying to build on their, build up their weaknesses imagine the difference.
Do you have a final thought? Whilst I re-begin to take charge of the conversation
And take Command,
Mik, can you tell us a final thought, or a key takeaway of today.
I think my final thought is that really in life, you should be focusing on what you naturally do well. It’s going to motivate you to do things, it’s going to help you extend yourself in, as we’ve all talked about, in ways that you didn’t think possible, to become amazing, even more amazing at what you already do. It’s going to help you to focus your energy in the right direction that’s going to take you on to do amazing things and lead an amazing life. So yes, I highly recommend if you get the opportunity, to undertake something like this, and it doesn’t have to be– you don’t have to go out and do Clifton Strengths Training, there are other options. Not that many. But, I highly recommend it. I didn’t mention this earlier. But I first did the Clifton Strengths Assessment about nine years ago now. And I got my report, the top five signature themes report, and I read through it and I went, “Oh my gosh, that’s amazing. That is just described me.” And then I put it in a drawer and forgot about it for like, you know, seven years or something like that. And then a friend of mine did the coach training, and I pulled the report out again, and we did the training. You know, he coached me on my top five. And that was the turning point for me. From that training or that coaching, I just went, “Oh my gosh!” Like I could suddenly see how these things on paper that sounded so much like me, how I could actually then take them and use them in my life. So it went from just knowing to becoming an action and using and becoming a tool. So if you are interested in doing Clifton Strengths, I highly recommend you get coaching on it as well. And you can get coaching, I’m obviously certified Clifton Strengths Coach, but also through Gallup, they have a whole list of strengths coaches, and also the Strengths Network South Pacific, which is my accreditation body. They’re based in NZ, but they have a list of coaches throughout the Pacific. And yeah, I just I– give it a go, is all I’m going to say. You really will just learn so much about yourself and appreciate so much more about yourself.
Absolutely. And do you have anything at all where our listeners can refer to this?
Of course I do! If you go to our website, www.workwifewinetime.com.au/cliftonstrengths, you can actually download a copy of the 34 Clifton Strengths, Themes of Talent summary. So it’s a summary, just a short summary on each of the 34 Themes of Talent, so you can have a bit of a read through those maybe do a bit of contemplation as to what may or may not appear in your top five. And really just start to learn a bit more about it.
Amazing. And I think that brings us to the end of our episode. So thanks, Mik, Ro, and I will strangely thank myself for being here.
And that’s a wrap. So as always you kick ass women, fellow work wives. Remember you’re not alone because collaboration is power. We’re all travelling on the same journey. And most importantly, we all get it.