By Brittany Honore
“That explains a lot. It’s all making sense now.” Those were my exact words when I got the results of my StrengthsFinder results. That sentiment is shared by many who take the assessment and examine their results. Why is that? How does it it connect the dots through many of the threads and experiences that have been present with you all along through your life? How does it shed light on your talents, your natural patterns for thinking, feeling and behaving?
As I traveled through this experience, I found, my top five themes gave me more insight about myself than I ever expected to know. Suddenly, I could connect the dots, see patterns in my behavior and understand and appreciate why I am the way I am. This included childhood memories. Empathy was a recurring theme in my life. It always had been, from the very beginning. As it would turn out, empathy was my number one theme.
Many who take the assessment find they can connect their talents quickly to earlier memories in life. I was no different and vividly recall my mother taking me me to pick out my first kitten when I was 5 years old. The excitement was unbearable! I was going to pick the cutest, most playful, fluffiest kitten I could find. I walked over to the litter and started looking for that perfect pet. Then it happened…the runt. I COULD NOT ignore this pathetic, slow, tiny, sickly kitten sitting alone in the corner. His litter mates didn’t want anything to do with him. Honestly, he was gross. But, at 5 years old, my natural thinking pattern quickly guided me to: “if I don’t take him home nobody would.” This seems profound for a small child to struggle with but it’s true. It registered more as fear though. What if I was that cat and nobody wanted me? Undesirability and loneliness were feelings I didn’t want any living thing to endure. That just would not do. Empathy presented itself at a very young age for me and I took that gross little kitten home. Fuzzy Cat lived to be sixteen years old and was the most loyal pet I have ever owned.
Situations like this arose repeatedly throughout my life and still do. People always assume that I am a nice person and I like doing “good” things. I assure you, I do not get warm fuzzy feelings of gratification when empathy kicks in. However, it is who I am. I am empathetic. I naturally feel emotionally where others are at. It is almost like this talent is an emotional thermometer. Even when I do not want to be empathetic, I am. Sometimes, to a fault…It can even be annoying for me. As I have dove deeper into my Strengths with the 34 Strong team, I have found a love/hate relationship with empathy. I feel the feelings ALL THE TIME! At times this can be exhausting, but I understand people in a way that not everyone gets to. Only nineteen percent of people have empathy as their primary theme. I am blessed to form strong, unspoken bonds with people when least expected. I “get” them and they are pleasantly surprised and grateful in a sense. To that end, It Is cool a lot of the time, I will admit.
Talent: Your unique patterns for thinking, feeling, and behaving
Perhaps you have a natural pattern that you can identify with from a young age. What are natural responses in your thinking that you can see evidence of since young? Maybe unlike me, you naturally looked at situations and quickly focused on removing the emotional context to boil the scenario down to the facts. This as well is a form of talents. We are not the same, which is the brilliance of the Strengths based approach. We are 1 in 33.5 million.
Gallup research shows people typically function within their top ten themes. Themes are a product of nurture and nature. Life and the people in it can help to shape and develop others’ themes. For example, my daughter has compassion and sympathy but I am positive empathy eludes her. I cannot teach her to feel what someone else is feeling or imagine herself emotionally in their shoes, so to speak. She is much like my mother in the way of caring and kindness. However, neither of them have deep connection or understanding of the feelings of another person, let alone a perfect stranger or a gross kitten.
Themes are homage to the uniqueness of an individual’s presence. Themes are like the DNA of a person’s disposition, the way they function and think, the way they view the world and process what is happening around them. It is the makeup of their being. I am made up of thirty-four themes, all arranged uniquely just for me. I am strong. I am emotionally intelligent. I am the most powerful cry-baby you’ll ever meet. I own my themes, for better or worse. I choose to make them work for me and benefit those around me.
So, who are you? What are your themes and what how do those talents show up for you? How do these unique patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving to contribute to the teams you are on and those around you? Have these talent patterns been present in you since earlier in life?
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Brittany Honore handles much of the behind the scenes administration for 34 Strong and is an integral part of coordinating, organizing and getting our training programs together.
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