StrengthsFinder Soul Mates
Grace LaConte is the founder and lead consultant at LaConte Consulting. Grace has served as an internal change manager and strategic expert for business services, hospitals, and software firms resulting in increased revenue, streamlined workflow processes, and improved communication. Grace loves to help people recognize their strengths and find strategic ways to create influence in the world!
StrengthsFinder Soul Mates
When I decided to write an article about the ways StrengthsFinder has affected my relationship with my husband, my mind jumped right to “Sure thing!” – the Activator in me took over… but then I remembered that my “better half” (my husband Kevin) would need to give his seal of approval first. “Opposites attract,” as they say, and this is very true for us.
I discovered StrengthsFinder in 2009 and didn’t realize it could have much impact beyond defining the reason for my incessant need to learn (Input), extreme need to set and meet goals (Focus), dreaming about the possibilities (Ideation), making things happen (Activator), and constant planning for the future (Futuristic). I didn’t fully grasp what it meant to discover my talents. The book was a quick read, the 5 themes seemed to fit, and I put the printout in a folder and tucked it away.
Three years passed, and in that time both my husband and I went through career changes and a move to a new city. Kevin was a year into a new and stressful job that kept him on the road for weeks at a time. On the days he made it home, he was exhausted in every possible way. No matter how hard Kevin tried to encourage and motivate his crew, his managers told him that the company’s culture didn’t reward that kind of leadership.
We finally went on a family vacation and talked about our dreams for the future; they centered around family, friends, and helping others. We realized that Kevin’s job was not giving us the opportunity to reach those goals. On the final day of our trip, I begged Kevin to take the StrengthsFinder test. The results summed up his strengths perfectly – he refers to past experiences to understand the present (Context), enjoys challenges and problems (Restorative), needs predictability and routine (Discipline), seeks out areas of agreement (Harmony), and finds unique qualities in every person (Individualization).
We briefly discussed the stress of his job and how his strengths were not a good fit. Kevin looked at me and said, “I can’t be my best at this job. If you can find one that will get me out, I’ll leave.” Talk about motivation! I revved up my Focus strength and zeroed in on several jobs, accepting one in Minnesota. Just a few weeks later, Kevin submitted his resignation, and we prepared for a new adventure.
It is incredible how much our StrengthsFinder talents make their way into everyday conversation. When I am working on a project with my consulting firm, I’ll announce “I’m in Ideation mode, folks! Gotta get this thought all the way through – hold on!” Kevin’s Harmony strength often helps us resolve our family’s differences before they get out of hand. Our neighbors discussed having a block party a few weeks ago, but it took my Activator strength to finally get the ball rolling. Kevin’s Discipline and Restorative expertise then took over, as he recalled what had worked at previous block parties and how many supplies to buy.
If we had to pick a favorite strength, mine would be Focus. Reaching goals is a passion, and I absolutely love to help others reach their goals as well. Kevin’s favorite strength is Context, because experiences from the past can help us to avoid making bad decisions. Our themes do conflict at times, especially my Activator (“let’s get going!”) theme with his Discipline (“but this is what it will take to get it done”), and my Futuristic theme (“This is what I see happening”) contrasts with his Restorative one (“Judging from what happened before, let’s do this”). But despite our complete opposite themes, we really do balance each other out.
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