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Monday, November 19, 2012

Oh…I’m a Woo!

By Ryan Darby, Gallup Learning and Development Consultant

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.

I’m curious, do you remember your first time seeing your talent profile? What were your thoughts and feelings? Did you have a similar experience? A different one?

Dr. Ryan Darby is one of Gallup’s leading Learning and Development Consultants. He works with the world’s top organizations to transform their corporate cultures into engaging and thriving workplaces. Darby has a doctorate in psychology from the University of California, San Diego, and a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University. His academic expertise and publications are on the influence of emotions on decision-making and behavior. He currently lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and daughter.

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Domingo said...

Ryan, hello from Spain.

I first saw my talent profile two months ago. I was shocked and impressed at the results of the test. It´s amazing how exact the profile is!. A powerful tool as well !!!.

I experienced the same thoughts and feelings you describe in your article. I started working consciuosly on my talents as soon as I recovered from the initial shock.

Thanks for sharing yours with us.


Craig said...


Thanks for sharing this; my wife's #1 Theme is Woo, and your experience was really helpful in my discussions with her about a direction to take with her work, to be more involved with people, and less with technology. Thanks!


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