Get a Free Chapter

Be more of who you already are.

That is the primary lesson I learned from my mentor and grandfather, Donald O. Clifton, who spent a lifetime studying “what is right with people.” Don helped me to see that if I spent my life trying to be good at everything, I would never be great at anything.

In the late 1990s, after helping thousands uncover their strengths through in-depth interviews over three decades, Don and his team created a web-based assessment called StrengthsFinder. Don’s dream was to help far more people uncover their strengths. In the early days of working on this project, each morning Don would print a report of all the people who had completed StrengthsFinder the previous day. It was a measure of his big mission in life.

When I walked into Don’s office each morning, he would show me that printed report and ask a question like, “Do you think the number will ever be 100,000?” Later on he asked, “Do you think we will ever get to a million?” This week Gallup reported more than 9 million people have used the Clifton StrengthsFinder to build on their strengths.

Another important metric Don and I watched during those early years was the number of students who had been through a program called StrengthsQuest. We knew it was even more important for young people to learn about their natural talents, before they enter the world of work. Today, over 600 schools and universities have used this program and more than a million students have had a chance to build their lives around strengths.

This student program is just one example of strengths-based education for a specific group. Over the last decade, Gallup has developed strengths-based books and programs for kids, teachers, managers, leaders, salespeople, coaches, faith-based groups, and for building entire strengths-based organizations. These are all great starting points for a conversation about strengths.

Help another person to discover their strengths today. Almost all of the growth around one’s strengths occurs in the context of a relationship. If you invest in a person’s strengths every day, they can be more of who they already are.

Other posts by Tom Rath