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A Formula for Personal Strengths

by Rick Baker
On Nov 16, 2012

We have revised our formula for personal strengths.

Up until recently, we have used the Gallup/StrengthsFinder definition of Strengths. We have taught the following formula:


+ Knowledge

+ Skills            


There is no question, this Gallup/StrengthsFinder description of Strengths is accurate, valid, and very helpful. We have seen 100's of people put it to good use.

When we modified it as follows, we found it was easier to understand:

   Natural Talent

+ Specialized Knowledge

Practised Skills


These word additions helped people understand:

  • Everyone possesses talents. Talent is part of the human condition. We are born with talent. Some of the things we do will naturally align with our talents. Some of the things we do will cut across the grain for our talents.
  • Knowledge alone is not enough. When it comes to work, the knowledge must be specialized, related to the work role.
  • Skills are not natural...skills don't just happen. They have to be learned; they have to be 'made and formed'; they have to be practised.  Skills are Good Habits


Now, we have made a major improvement to our definition of STRENGTHS:

   Natural Talent
+ Opportunities

+ Specialized Knowledge

Practised Skills


We thank Malcolm Gladwell for being so clear and persistent in his book, 'Outliers'. A few years ago I met Malcolm Gladwell and listened to him talk about 'Outliers'. While I bought a hard copy of the book some time ago and I understood his message and its importance, I did not grasp the full significance until I listened to the audio version of the book recently. In particular, (1) my thinking about Strengths and their application at work has changed and (2) my thinking about the Leader's role has become more textured. 
I reached the following conclusions:
  1. Spirited Leaders must include ''Opportunities" in their definition of Strengths.
  2. Spirited Leaders have the ability to create and influence 'Opportunities' for others.
  3. In the past we have said, "Business Only Contains 3 Things: People, Process, & Situations" and we have said it is the Leader's responsibility to anticipate Situations and to pave the path for Situations. Now, we have specifically identified 'Opportunities' as a subset of 'Situations'...a very-desirable subset. 
Leaders must deliver Opportunities to followers.
PS: Malcolm Gladwell is one of my heroes. I had the honour of chatting with him and having my picture taken with him in 2008. 


Business Contains Only 3 Things | STRENGTHS: People-Focused for Success

Comments (3) -

rick baker
12/29/2012 5:28:08 PM #

"We can look for opportunities or we can design them. We can start from our strengths and assets, and see how these might be used. Or we can start from the market and the world, and see what opportunities are opening up."

Edward de Bono
'Teach Yourself To Think', 1995

rick baker
1/22/2013 7:57:09 PM #

"We all want to give our best. Giving is as natural as breathing and, if we are really to live, just as necessary. When expression of the desire to give is somehow blocked, trouble starts. Energy that would naturally go into making constructive contributions gets diverted into less healthy pursuits. The most common ways in which these diversions manifest are confessing unimportance and pulling for pity of others (passive hostility) or feigning exaggerated importance and demanding their admiration (aggressive hostility). Variations of these two themes are virtually endless. History is replete with examples. As a practical matter, we have simply to remember that a blocked expression of the desire to contribute produces anger, frustration, and resentment. Whether we turn the anger inward in the form of self-sabotage or outward in the form a verbal of physical violence, it eats up our lives. Held over time, this anger can destroy relationships, weaken health, and sap creativity."

Laurence G. Boldt
'ZEN and the art of making a living', (2009)

rick baker
1/22/2013 10:18:30 PM #

Summarizing what educational psychologists and human-performance coaches know about competence:

1. Your competence level determines what you will give attention to
2. Your competence level determines your choice of tasks and activities
3. Your competence level determines your effort level.
4. Your competence level determines how adaptable and resilient you will be
5. Your competence level determines whether you will lead or follow.  

Brendon Burchard
`The Charge`, (2012)

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