Can you remember the first thoughts and feelings you had when you saw your talent profile? I can. I literally said, “Oh…I’m a Woo!” And my life made so much more sense. At the time, I was somewhat struggling in my career. My performance was fine, in fact, better than it had ever been. But my stress levels were high, and I was coming home day after day emotionally and physically exhausted.
At the time, I was a teacher and researcher at the University of California, San Diego. Most of my time was spent in solitary activities, such as writing and literature reviews. In fact, on the days I struggled the most, that was all I did. It wasn’t that I actively disliked these activities, it was just that they physically and emotionally drained me. When I came home from these days, I hardly had energy left to play with my young daughter or talk with my wife.
When I wasn’t laboring in solitude, I was teaching in front of a classroom or brainstorming with my colleagues. These days were completely different than my days in isolation. I felt energized and happy. I would come home eager and willing to be with my family.
It was not until I took the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment that I finally saw this pattern and understood what was happening. I had Woo sitting right there in my top five, eagerly waiting to come out and play. Being talented in Woo meant that I drew energy and enjoyment from social interactions, especially novel ones. Interactions like teaching or working with colleagues fed my Woo and brought me the enjoyment and satisfaction that only comes from being the authentic me. When I veered too far from who I naturally was, I was essentially wearing someone else’s shoes. I could walk around for a little while, but it slowly became uncomfortable and eventually painful. The hours of solitude were perfect for others -- they just weren’t for me. And I would never be truly happy or successful until my role fit me. I’m happy to say that, although it took a little while, I was able to find that role. My role now involves a lot of people time, and I’m happier and more engaged in my work than ever before.
When I coach clients, I always try to keep this experience in mind. As coaches, one of the most important things we can give our clients is an understanding of who they are and who they are not. A true understanding of what makes one unique is, I believe, the secret to success. Moreover, as I experienced, self-awareness is liberating. There is a sense of relief in knowing that you aren’t crazy; you are just you. And sometimes, that you comes with a lot of Woo.