How a Strengths-Based Approach Helps Entrepreneurs Thrive

Throughout my career, I have been exposed to many different assessment & personality tools: DISC, Myer Briggs, Birkman, and more.  All of these have their use cases, but the Strengths-based approach pioneered by Don Clifton is my personal favorite. Don Clifton was an American psychologist, educator, author, researcher, and entrepreneur who is considered “the father of strengths-based psychology and the grandfather of positive psychology.” I believe it’s the best approach for helping organizations tap into their talent DNA while driving diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. It asks the basic question, “What will happen when we think about what is right with people rather than fixating on what is wrong with them?”

This past month, I participated in a retreat with a group of like-minded entrepreneurs. Clay Kirkland of Wisdom & Creativity Consulting facilitated an exercise that kicked off our 2022 annual goal-planning process by reflecting on our strengths and completing a ‘sweet spot’ questionnaire. If you want to complete this exercise for yourself, follow the steps below.

Step 1: Individual Preparation:
  1. Obtain a copy of your CliftonStrengths 34 Report
  2. Fill in this table (zip file)
  3. Assess whether you are thriving or surviving
Step 2: Group Discussion
  1. Download the Sweet Spot Questionnaire
  2. Complete the following questions:
    • Areas of Natural Talent: What do I do effortlessly that others see as a daunting task?
    • Areas of Expertise: In what arenas do people consider me the ‘go-to’ person?
    • Areas of Satisfaction: What do I enjoy most about my current/former jobs? What do I most often delegate to others?
    • Areas of Excellence: What do I do that elicits the most recognition from my peers/co-workers?
    • Areas of Passion: Which environments do I look forward to working in? Which ones do I tend to avoid?
    • Areas of Knowledge: What kind of advice do people seek from me? What general types of questions do people come to me looking for the answers?
    • Focal Points: If I could focus on only one or two things, what would it/they be?
  3. Share and discuss this feedback with your team or group.
    • Discuss learnings from the exercise
    • Gather feedback from team members
    Intersection of Strength & Passion

    I hope you find as much value from this exercise as I did! It got everyone in our group thinking about finding the intersection of where their greatest strengths and greatest passions meet. As we move into the new year, this is a great exercise to reflect, create shortcuts to success and better align to your sweet spot.

    “Our research into human strengths does not support the extreme, and extremely misleading, assertion that ‘you can play any role you set your mind to,’ but it does lead us to this truth: Whatever you set your mind to, you will be most successful when you craft your role to play to your signature talents most of the time.” – Donald O. Clifton

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