YOU GOTTA AIM IT! How I Took Control of My Professional Future

I know my Strengths. Now what? What am I supposed to do with this information?

I’ve asked myself this question over a hundred times…probably a gajillion but I’m told that’s not a real number, and it would appear not a real word either since spellcheck just underlined it in red.

Anyway, I recently accepted a new full-time employment opportunity. I know…you’re scared that I’ll bail on the whole Strengths-coaching thing. No worries! I’ll still hustle to create new content…just after normal business hours.

So what does this have to do with Strengths? Patience young Padawan!

My journey to this point began over two years ago. Back then, I was stuck in the NAMING and CLAIMING stages of strengths-based development.

You see…GALLUP has a three stage process they’ve dubbed NAMING, CLAIMING and AIMING.

The NAMING stage consists of taking the assessment, becoming familiar with your top five talent themes and their definitions, and then developing the ability to recall your TOP 5 when asked. Like with any language, you have to understand the meaning of each term before you can begin using them to communicate. Unless you’re a Kardashian. Then you can use words incorrectly and people will pay you millions!

The CLAIMING stage involves taking ownership of these talents. Simple saying, “Yea…that’s me and I am going to take ownership of these areas of strength.” Some people want to stiff-arm a theme because they don’t believe it is a “true” talent, or they feel that in order to be successful in their current position they need to have a different dominant strength. You won’t be able to move on to the AIMING stage until you grow to understand your individual set of talents and how they make you unique.

Now for the AIMING. This is where, I believe, most people struggle. In fact, step three is where people start to brain-dump their results, and continue with business as usual. I’m familiar with this hiccup towards success because I stuffed my report in a desk drawer for almost a year before I again departed on a journey focused on strengths. After almost two full years of claiming, I feel prepared to start AIMING.

When this new employment opportunity was brought to my attention I was hesitant to pursue it. Why? I had been self-employed for the last four years. The idea of leaving my business behind and choosing to take the path of W-2’s and performance evaluations was scary. I was nervous! Was I qualified? Smart enough? All of these thoughts crept into the old brain, and forced me to second guess my own talents.

But then I glanced at my Top 5 well positioned to the right of my monitor.


I then focused my attention on the job announcement listing the duties, responsibilities, and expectations. I started looking at each bullet point through a lens of strengths. My results?

“This would be perfect for me! It will allow me the opportunity to engage my talents each and every day! Eureka!!!”

Develop and implement new ideas focused on forming strategic partnerships while working with other organizations to enhance retention and expansion of local businesses. Communicate a shared mission and take action to grow our future economic footprint.

Sweeeeeet! So I get to develop strategies, communicate our mission, work with others, build relationships, formulate ideas, and think about our future?!

Does this sound like something I’d be good at?

This is the moment I catapulted myself from the CLAIMING stage, and land softly in the realm of AIMING. I was now taking the information I learned from the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment, and began using it as a filter to determine my level of success in a new career field.

ANDY 1.0, circa 2012, would have never had the clarity and self-awareness to take a few moments to reflect on his own natural abilities. (I like speaking in the third person. O’Doyle Rules!)

Despite what some people had to say, I did mature! I was now taking control of my life, and basing my decisions on the results that would follow after applying my strengths…and not just winging it. This is the beauty of StrengthsFinder; you may not need it right now, but, and this I guarantee, it will resurface at a time when it’s the only thing that makes sense. My strengths act as a set of windshield wipers when the downpour seems too difficult to navigate.

What happened the last time you were caught in a storm without decent wipers?

I am excited to start my new career in 2016. Life is happy, sad, funny, scary, and sometimes debilitating. But when you take the time to invest in yourself, and learn what makes you tick, the road seems to ride a little smoother.

At least it did for me.

Here’s to an amazing NEW YEAR! May it find you in good spirits. Or at least with good spirits in your hand!

Cheers! ~Andy



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About The WOO Warrior

Andy is a GALLUP-Certified Strengths Coach, and the owner of UnleashStrengths. He lives with his wife, Marlana, and two children, Adelyn & Drew, in the small Midwest town of Clinton, Iowa. he can be reached at [email protected] View all posts by The WOO Warrior


7 Comment(s)

  1. December 22, 2015 at 1:19 PM

    Well done. I support you 100%. I’m headed the other way, but that’s not the point. The point is pivoting. You’ve pivoted to a spot that will allow you to do what you do best. What’s wrong with that? Nothing. Wishing you all the best!

  2. Joni Lynn Nelson

    December 22, 2015 at 2:29 PM

    Beautiful Andy; just beautiful!!! I could not agree more with everything you stated. This is the pinnacle of learning, loving and then living your strengths! I am very proud of you and I know you will knock this one out of the park. Take care and keep being the best Andy that you can be by doing what you do best.

  3. Tony Pfeifer

    December 23, 2015 at 9:58 AM

    Well written post. As always I love your energy and passion for strengths.

    May 2016 be a banner year!

  4. December 31, 2015 at 6:54 PM

    I’m so excited for this new opportunity, Andy! Can’t wait to see what happens with Andy 2.0 in 2016.

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