What Type Of Strengths Entrée Are You Serving?

by admin on January 3, 2015

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Where is your favorite place to get a really great meal? That place that you go for a birthday, an anniversary, or an extra-special celebration? That place where they only offer gift-certificates — not gift-cards? 😉

Is it that fancy Italian place across town, with the freshly made pasta and the heavenly sauces made with fresh-organic ingredients? Or is it that authentic Mexican place just down the road with the incredible salsa that brings a sweat to your brow, but that you simply can’t stop eating? Or maybe it’s that understated Thai place, with the mix of sweet, sour, and hot dishes you simply can’t find anywhere else in town?

Whatever your choice, you can probably picture a favorite entrée or a special dish that makes your mouth water just thinking about how good it tastes — along with the wonderful memories you associate with those dining experiences.

Among the array of different foods that we may eat at a variety of different establishments, there are a handful of those truly unique and wonderful dishes that stand out from the rest and hold a special place in our heart (and stomach).

That said, unless you happen to be my brother-in-law (talking to you, Doug), the local buffet restaurant probably wasn’t your first choice as the place to get a really great meal.

That’s because most buffet restaurants cater to the “more-for-your-money” crowd, rather than offering specialized and unique dishes that appeal to those with specific tastes.

It’s not that the food is bad at these places, it’s simply that they typically offer a standard selection of common dishes that appeal to the broadest segment of diners. You choose a buffet restaurant specifically because you know there’s something for everyone to eat, and you don’t run the risk of someone in your party not being able to find something on the menu that they like. (And, of course, the fact that no one questions your second or third trip to the dessert bar.)

Ever try asking for seconds at the fancy Italian place? 😉

Walk into almost any buffet restaurant in town and you’ll get your fill of mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, green beans, mac & cheese, fried chicken, dinner rolls, broccoli, cauliflower, green salad, cottage cheese, jello, etc…the list goes on and on — and is virtually the same wherever you go.

And don’t forget your choice between the freshly sliced roast-beef or the prime-rib at the end of the line (or possibly a slice of both if you’re extra nice to whoever is doing the slicing).

My intent isn’t to poke fun at buffet restaurants, but to clarify the point that our favorite dining experiences are associated with restaurants that offer a specific cuisine, with unique dishes that have a distinct flavor and create a taste sensation unlike any other.

It’s the unique recipes of the dishes at these restaurants, with their combinations of specific ingredients that are prepared in their own way, that make them our favorites — not the fact that they offer the widest array of standardized dishes, from which we can pick-and-choose as we please on return visits through the buffet-line.

The same is true for our core talent themes.

Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment provides us with valuable insight to our greatest areas of strengths-potential by identifying our top themes of talent, in ranked-order with clear and distinctive definitions regarding each theme. Powerful and insightful information about our individual opportunities for personal growth and strengths development.

But the big mistake most people make is treating these themes of talent as individual dishes in a buffet line, rather than seeing them as ingredients to be combined in the making of our own unique and distinctly-flavored dish.

Many people may see this as a trivial distinction to make between two differing perspectives of what Gallup’s assessment reveals. But in reality, the difference between these two perspectives — and the associated outcomes — is as big as the difference between taking your spouse to his/her favorite restaurant to celebrate your 20th anniversary, versus taking him/her to the local buffet restaurant to celebrate that same special occasion!

To be clear, your talent themes — given their complementary and synergistic relationship — are best thought of as ingredients to be combined in your own individual recipe for success, than as stand-alone dishes to be selected as you desire from the buffet-line of strengths.

For the sake of simplicity, Gallup provides your top talent themes identified individually, with both a generic description of each respective theme and a more personalized description of the same theme (as influenced and shaped by the other four themes in your top five).

And while the more personalized descriptions that Gallup provides for each theme are the first step in the right direction — revealing a glimpse into the synergy between your core themes — the unfortunate reality is that most people still treat their talent themes as individual dishes in the buffet-line.

For example, I’ll often hear individuals (as well as strengths practitioners) reference “using their Strategic theme” when working toward identifying the best solution to a complex problem. Or how they’ll “pull out their Command theme” when in a situation where leadership is needed and no one is stepping-up to the plate. Or that they will “employ their Discipline theme” when they have a tight deadline and want to follow a routine to complete that important project on time and per specifications.

As if these themes are simply waiting on the buffet-line to be individually dished-up — as-desired and as-needed — depending on the circumstances and at our command.

But given that our talent themes have a deeply-rooted cognitive and physiological origin, it seems highly unlikely that putting them to use is as simple and selective as pulling individual tools from our talent-theme tool-box (to use a more commonly applied metaphor).

It is much more likely that all of our core themes are continuously and simultaneously working together, either at the forefront of our conscious thinking or subconsciously guiding our thoughts, feelings, and behavior, collectively influencing and shaping everything we do in a completely unique and distinct way.

It is just like the specific list of ingredients in that Italian or Thai dish, combined in differing proportions and prepared in just the right way, influencing and interacting with each other to produce a wonderfully unique and distinctive flavor. Clearly much different than warming-pans filled with mashed potatoes, fried chicken, or macaroni and cheese — bland and meant to appeal to the masses.

We simply fall back into viewing and treating talent themes as buffet-line options because it’s easier than doing the hard work of understanding and refining our personal, unique talent-theme recipe. Followed by the additional work of mastering that dish (like a highly-trained chef) as a powerfully-served strength that reflects all of our core themes in a synergistic fashion — rather than individual ingredients simply served on the same plate.

Imagine the chef at the Italian restaurant serving you a plate full of ingredients, instructing you to pick and choose from those you like best and to combine them in whatever way you wish, based on whatever you feel like eating that evening.

Silly and not very tasty.

From the examples previously shared, if your top five talent themes include Strategic, Command, and Discipline, it is likely that all three work together to shape and influence everything you think, feel and do — even though that may look (or taste) slightly different depending on the circumstances and desired outcome.

You will likely evaluate most everything from a “what’s the best way to do this” perspective (Strategic), in an assertive and decisive manner (Command), in a structured and predictable way (Discipline).

All three themes working together continuously and simultaneously, shaping and influencing each other (consciously or subconsciously), and producing something that is uniquely you.  Clearly much harder to define and develop than individual talent themes, but a more accurate description of your unique way of living life — when you’re at your best and being most authentic.

But isn’t it worth the extra effort to dig a little deeper and discover what is most uniquely powerful about you and your combination of core talent themes? How they all work together collectively to produce a remarkable recipe that is unlike any other? Seeing something more than a selection of common dishes from which we may pick whatever sounds good, depending on our appetite and who we’re dining with?

It’s time to stop dining at the buffet-line of talent themes, and start developing your unique strengths recipe that is the crème de la crème.

Let’s give it a go!

~ David & Debby

David & Debby Pierpoint

David Pierpoint / Strategic, Futuristic, Intellection, Learner, Deliberative
Debby Pierpoint / Harmony, Developer, Empathy, Responsibility, Consistency

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