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Friday, April 25, 2014

The How

Written by Becky JB Hammond MBA, MHSM, Founder, Isogo and a
GALLUP® Trained Strengths Coach

Article based on research from Dr. Angela Robles, President/Founder, Forza Institute

They are both elite. They have performed and excelled at the highest levels of the sport. They have both journeyed from childhood to adulthood to succeed in the most excellent and demanding echelons of the game. By this, they have joined a class of athlete that is reserved for only the most talented and strong.

Both of them are repeat Olympic gold medalists. Both of them are two to three time NCAA All-Americans. Both of them have multiple National Championships. Both of them played 1st base in the Pac 10 conference. Both of them adore the game of softball.

What they achieved is remarkably similar. It is how they achieved it where their stories dramatically diverge. Each of them used their uniqueness to get themselves to a place of greatness.

Dr. Angela Robles once wondered whether all elite athletes share a common set of strengths that distinguishes them from the competition and leads them to excel. As a three-time ASA National Champion and former Division 1 softball pitcher for the University of Notre Dame, professional athlete, and later an NCAA coach herself, Dr. Robles could not help but question what “ideal” strengths would look like in the sport of softball. Herself a relational powerhouse and self-described “hugger” of the team, she wondered if she were an outlier or part of the norm.

With this athletic achievement under her belt, coupled with the personal influence of Dr. Chip Anderson, she embarked on a dissertational journey to discover just how strengths play out on the field and beyond. She studied a pool of elite athletes, and her findings were transformational.

From hours of conversations, two women emerged -- practically identical in achievement, and strikingly different in strengths -- Sheila Cornell Douty and Leah O’Brien Amico.

1st Baseman
Pac 10 Conference
Olympic Gold Medalist (2)
NCAA All-American (2)
National Championship (2)
1st Baseman/Outfield
Pac 10 Conference
Olympic Gold Medalist (3)
NCAA All-American (3)
National Championship (3)

Both of these athletes connect deeply with the way they are each wired. Both of them see their own strengths as their pathway to success. Yet, the way they approach goal setting, team relationships, and leadership roles is filtered through strikingly different-colored lenses.

Douty had clear-cut goals and determination that were present from the day she first hit a ball off a tee -- she had her eyes set on the gold and worked hard to get there. Amico spoke about her elite achievements by emphasizing the importance of working toward a common goal, wanting the experience to be meaningful within the larger picture of life.

Douty was driven by an internal stamina, where her achievements were separate from relational connections. She thrived, despite disagreements and contention with head coaches for many years. Amico relied on key relationships to fuel her perseverance and worked diligently to resolve conflicts so she could operate at her best.

As a leader, Douty was the silent type, nicknamed “Quiet Thunder” by her team, while Amico’s teammates relied on her to be a vocal encourager who was integral to the team’s success.

And they both rose to the ultimate success in their sport.

Today, Dr. Robles uses this example, along with others from her research and career, to remind athletic and business teams that our strengths define the how and not the what. They guide us and help us succeed in our current roles, and they push us to pursue our passions from a place of true authenticity.

Becky JB Hammond is a person whose life and work have been transformed by engaging in a journey that started with a question -- “What if I am not meant to be well-rounded?” The ongoing response to that one question has led her to see greater grace, true contentment, real confidence, improved outcomes, and complete sense of who she is, in both her personal and professional life. She has worked in both management and leadership in large health-related organizations and is now a Gallup-Trained Strengths Coach and founder of Isogo, an organization that advocates for healthier lives, partnerships, and teams through strengths.

Becky's top five strengths: Achiever | Arranger | Learner | Belief | Connectedness

Connect with Becky:

Dr. Angela (Bessolo) Robles, a former pitcher for the University of Notre Dame and NCAA Division I collegiate coach, has traveled the country consulting with some of the best athletic teams and professional organizations, introducing them to the strengths philosophy. In 2009, she founded the Forza Institute, the premiere strengths training program for sport, and has since worked with professional and collegiate athletics teams including Arizona, Washington, Harvard, and Notre Dame. Her athletic experience also includes playing professionally in the Italian National League, and conducting international sport clinics in Venezuela, China, and Mexico.

Angela's top five strengths: Positivity | Woo | Includer | Belief | Empathy

Connect with Angela:

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