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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Learn, Love, Live: The Journey of Strengths

by Jeremy Pietrocini and Benjamin Erikson-Farr

There are so many times when strengths serve as a new language to pull together individuals, teams, organizations and even people from different countries and cultures. However, as powerful as the language of strengths is, not all of our concepts translate with ease. In early May of 2015, Curt Liesveld and I were teaching a group of future strengths coaches from Japan, through the help of translators. It was day three of our four and a half day Accelerated Coaching Program and we were recapping the concept of Name it/Claim it/Aim it. It’s an idea we considered to be simple, a way to explain how individuals move from awareness to application of their themes. In English, it sounds poetic and simple. But as I could tell from the confused looks on our students’ faces, something was getting lost in translation.   

Feeling at a loss, I looked to the back of the room and asked Curt if he had any thoughts. He thought for a moment, then simply said, “It’s learn your strengths, love your strengths, and live your strengths.”

And that’s when everything changed. Each student let out an audible exhale, as if they had solved the world’s most puzzling challenge. Curt and I both chuckled, and we immediately wrote it on the board. Quickly, most of the students were out of their seats, scrambling to take pictures of what was written.  

There are more than 12 million people who have completed the Clifton StrengthsFinder to learn their strengths. But how many have continued the journey? Loving your themes is critical with your own top five. But this can also highlight the importance of seeing value in themes that we do not possess. Curt would often say that we need to find a “poster child” for all 34 themes, someone who brilliantly portrays the value this theme brings to the world. Living our themes is about purposefully integrating your talent into your daily actions. As Curt would often say, it is when your soul aligns with your role, when your being is demonstrated by doing, and when a raw talent becomes mature and beautiful. May we commit to both teach these principles around the world, and integrate them into our own practices.  

Curt Liesveld passed away on May 16, 2015, a great loss for his family and friends, as well as for the strengths community. It is fitting that one of his final moments of wisdom and clarity was the concept of “Learn, love, live.” Curt guided so many of us along this path, because he so fully represented it. 

Learn: Curt was always learning, always curious. His passion was to discover what was unique and valuable about every strength and every person. Through his discovery process, we all discovered our own authentic selves. 

Love: Curt would often say that you have to fall in love with all 34 themes. He did just that, and his love extended to each and every human being who possessed them.

Live: Curt spent every day of the past 15 years living strengths. He embodied the strengths philosophy. He anchored it. He shone his example for all to see.

Curt is the soul of the modern global strengths movement. His soul will live on forever, touching millions more lives just as he so profoundly touched each of ours. 

Our mission, as coaches and teachers, is to help move people along in their own journey. Many of you were touched by Curt’s work. In honor of Curt and in service to others, consider a specific action you will take today to help someone learn, love, or live their greatest strengths.  

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Maureen Monte said...

I will encourage the medical exec team that I am working with to focus first on their own strengths, then on their team strengths, and then the work they must accomplish. Curt taught us that in my Accelerated Coaching course. Don't jump to the tasks, which feels productive and is also highly valued by most companies. The fasted path to success runs along the strengths depot. Know thy strengths first, and then attack the work to be done, leveraging the talents of the group.

I will reinforce this message with my clients.

Beautiful article Jeremy and Benjamin. Well done.

Linda Kats said...

I'm so thankful to have known Curt Liesveld as my brother-in-law. His legacy to his family offers strength even in his absence. Curt surely found and lived his passion helping others to find theirs through his position at Gallup. Thank you for this tribute.

Maria Busch said...

How memorable! Learn, Love, Live is how I will always think of Curt. He certainly left me with that passion to learn, love and live my strengths. I remember in training with him that he would just say the most prolific things, they rolled off his tongue so easily and effortlessly. Everyone in class commented on how much he embodied strengths and we wondered, How will we ever be that greatHe will always be my role model for what it means to BE our strengths.
Thank you for sharing this beautiful memory.
Maria Busch

Coach Rye said...

Beautifully said! Curt was indeed a brilliant man. I never got to know him personally but always admired the passion I saw in the videos that I have seen of him.

I will definitely use "Learn! Love! Live!" in my next coaching sessions. Thank you.

Kim Pong said...

Thanks of this Jeremy and Benjamin.


Nancy Fisher said...

This is so beautiful and a perfect tribute! I don't have anything profound to add, other than Curt was my coach and the leader of all my Strengths courses, and he made an enormous impact on me. I hope his family knows how important he was (and is!) to people around the world. I feel so grateful to have known him. What a special soul.


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