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I have a confession to make. I’ve known my strengths, written and advised others on theirs, and embraced the philosophy for more than 10 years. But if I am truly honest, there are times even today when I still struggle to truly own two of my top five strengths. If you have ever felt a bit embarrassed when you had to “reveal” a theme that invokes less-than-positive comments from others, you are not alone. Although I know they make me great, I struggle with owning both Significance and Command as part of my Signature Themes. There’s something about those strengths in a female body that seems to make it even tougher for me to watch and hear others’ reactions to them some days.
I have learned a couple things about owning and embracing Significance and Command that I think may help others with whatever theme it is that they sometimes want to disown.
First of all, one (or two) themes are not who we are completely. My hope is that my Command is often made more palatable because of my Relator theme. For example, I will stand up for my close friends, even when others shy away. And I know my Significance is most powerful when I communicate it as a sister theme with Belief, which helps me see the long-term importance of doing what I know is right.
Second, we have the power of choice. The truth is that these two themes -- Significance and Command -- can be deadly, or they can enliven. But it’s up to me to decide how much I apply them productively. I still remember the day Don Clifton, researcher and genius behind the Clifton StrengthsFinder, sat in my office and talked to me about how one’s themes are not strengths until they are productively applied. So, every day I must ask myself, “How will I make Command productive in my life? How can I fine-tune that Significance and use it appropriately to create positive impact?”
The bottom line is this: We are not simply single instruments. We are complicated orchestras. Please don’t ever let one of your themes make you paranoid about what others might think about you. Instead, be ready to show yourself as a beautifully complex human being, always tuning up each theme so the melody weaves into your story in harmony with your experiences, your goals, and your talents. Embracing this allows you to live a truly beautiful life melody.
Rosanne M. Liesveld is a Managing Consultant with Gallup. She consults with K-12 school districts to develop comprehensive recruiting, assessment, hiring, and development strategies for teachers and principals. Liesveld is also coauthor of Teach With Your Strengths, a book on strengths-based development for educators and school systems. Strengths: Futuristic | Activator | Significance | Relator | Command