A tool I wish I’d found before my boss called me out

Founding Mother, Chard & Stripes

My former boss pulled me aside and said, “You’re not the only one in this office with good ideas.” I was stunned, but may not have been had I taken StrengthsFinders (now CliftonStrengths) by then.

Use code GIFT34 here for 34% off on up to five CliftonStrengths 34 assessments.*

My boss elaborated: I tended to cut down my colleague’s ideas.

I offered my take: I wasn’t trying to diminish my colleague’s ideas. I was trying to save them from future headaches by pointing out potential problems with their study designs from the beginning.

“It was only when I took the CliftonStrengths assessment last year
that I realized how my…talents were helping me thrive!
I love taking others on this mind-blowing and enlightening journey
that can change lives and careers.”


With kind feelings for my boss, I resigned from the office where there were other good thinkers besides me. It was rough going after that, and I took the now Top 5 CliftonStrengths assessment to better understand my edge and how I might transform my career.

My leading strengths were Strategic, Learner, Futuristic, Maximizer, and Connectedness, in that order. Reading up about what that meant, I saw the following:

Help others to understand that your strategic thinking is not an attempt to belittle their ideas, but is instead a natural propensity to consider all the facets of a plan objectively.

Hmm, that would have been good to know before…

Use code GIFT34 here for 34% off on up to five CliftonStrengths 34 assessments.*

Reading more, I learned that my strengths suggested I’d do well as a coach, consultant, or entrepreneur, but that I should partner with an Activator because I was good at seeing things and generating ideas, but could use some help on the executing side (which sounded about right).

Though learning about my strengths was illuminating, the true power of CliftonStrengths for me was that it distilled my strengths into tangible words. And here’s a slight tweak on what I’ve said before:

Words begin worlds: they shape stories, which are like seeds that produce matching crops.

Use code GIFT34 here for 34% off on up to five CliftonStrengths 34 assessments.*

Gallup is the maker of CliftonStrengths, and they sent the discount code I’m sharing by email last week. The subject line read, “Give This Gift to Shape Someone’s Story,” and that wasn’t an overstatement.

CliftonStrengths will give you words to tell stories that can yield sweet fruit.

Pre-CliftonStrengths, I told a sorry story about my talents: “Um, I’m good at concentrating and um… .” Post-CliftonStrengths, my story packed a punch: “I am strategic.” And the more I repeated that story, the more the evidence appeared in my life.

Our stories are like seeds: they produce matching crops…

Use code GIFT34 here for 34% off on up to five CliftonStrengths 34 assessments.*

By taking the assessment (for $33, with discount code), you’ll get…

• A report of all 34 of your CliftonStrengths themes, like this sample.
• Personalized insights about your strengths.
• Strategies to manage potential weaknesses.
• Exclusive digital resources, as described down the page here.

Take the Top 5 CliftonStrengths assessment (for $19.99, no discount code) to unlock your top 5 strengths themes and for personalized insights about what you naturally do best.

What I do best has shifted in Gallup’s eyes over time, presumably because they’ve changed how they analyze data. Though I took the assessment only once, my account revealed that two of my former strengths had been replaced, and Connectedness—previously #5—had risen to the top.

From what I know about myself, I’d say my current ranking—Connectedness, Empathy, Individualization, Maximizer, Futuristic—captures me better than my previous one.

Reading about my Individualization strength, I saw the advice to gather and share real-life stories that will make your points much better than would generic information or theories.

Huh, look at that.

Though I’m only sharing my stories now, I’m planning on sharing many about other people. Anyway, I wonder how much time I could have saved by reading that idea instead of getting there on my own…

*Offer ends on December 9.

Dr. Mary-Elizabeth Harmon is a scientist turned storyteller and Founding Mother of Chard & Stripes, a “school” of prosperity making and word-of-mouth marketing platform for kind people, products and businesses in food, fashion & more. Subscribe to her newsletter here.