CliftonStrengths: Restorative

By: Taylor

Before coming to UMD, I had absolutely no idea what the CliftonStrengths were. All I was aware of was that I needed to take it for class (UMD Seminar) and that we’d be discussing it in class. In all honesty, the test instructions say it takes about 30-45 minutes to finish it, and well…I finished it 15 minutes before class was going to start. My top five strengths ended up being restorative, woo, input, learner, and consistency. Restorative is a strength I never realized I had and have only began to see more in myself.

Restorative defined by Gallup, “People strong in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems. They are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.” Before taking the CliftonStrengths for Students assessment I never considered myself a good problem-solver, but after I realized a lot of situations in my life revolve around having it as a strength. Often times in any given situation, if a problem arises I am quick to find the solution and move onto the next issue.

Image: block letters
Text: Strength in Restorative

I’ve found that often times this strength can have its downsides when used socially. Sometimes the speed in which you solve a problem can be seen as lack of sincerity or empathy towards the situation. It’s important to your peers to understand you’re trying to lend a helping hand, and remembering to be patient with others who don’t necessarily have restorative as a strength. Having restorative as a strength, you could also find yourself constantly figuring out your peers’ problems. Remember, sometimes they’ve got to do it themselves.

When it comes to the workplace and determining someone’s career path, being a restorative you’re frequently looking for a new challenge to solve, lean towards a job that will do just that. Some examples CliftonStrengths give on their website are jobs in medicine, consulting, computer programming, or customer service (just a few of many). Despite the frustration that follows with dealing with customers, I’ve unintentionally chosen a major (Communication) that will require a lot of human and customer interaction following plenty of problems to solve.

If you’ve find yourself without restorative as one of your top five Strengths, it doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy or aren’t good at problem-solving. All career paths are still open to anyone with any specific strength, with that we’re able to combine strengths with others to create a dream team. Finding and using your strengths are important in understanding yourself; knowing some of the awesome characteristics you have and knowing what you lack as well.

Of Possible Interest:
Incorporating Strengths Into Your Resume
CliftonStrengths for Students – all our blog posts on the topic

Read Taylor’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Amador Loureiro

Being a Learner is Fun

By: Taylor [Achiever|Input|Intelligence|Learner|Strategy]

As defined by CliftonStrengths for Students, those with the Learner strength enjoy the experience of learning. The process of learning is more exciting for them than the end result. They strive for new experiences and information that align with their interests. They do not seek to be the master of all trades but enjoy the process of gathering new information. CliftonStrengths for Students also says, “the genius of the learner talent is that you not only love to learn; you also intuitively know how to learn best.”

List of strengths; Learner in green

The learning strength applies to me in a variety of ways. When coming to college, I had a hard time determining a major – not because I didn’t know what interested me, but instead because I had too many things that inspired me. Each semester I love attending the first classes and getting a taste of a variety of different subjects. However, I get bored with courses quickly. I am constantly trying new things like yoga, golf, and piano lessons. All of these are new found interests of mine and the initial process of learning them is exhilarating. There are also little things I’ve realized about myself once my learner strength was identified. My Twitter feed, for example, is flooded with news channels and professionals in a variety of fields. I enjoy reading nonfiction books and watching documentaries. I also am confident that I want to attend graduate school someday.

If the learner strength applies to you, I recommend looking for careers that will encourage continuous learning. You will be energized by the challenge to keep up. Consider companies that allow you to do short-term projects. Spending short amounts of time learning new things only to be met by new projects and ideas – this idea also applies to the field of consulting. Also, take advantage of any continuing education your company is willing to subsidize whether it be a certification course or earning your master’s degree.

Interestingly, my professors have the Learner strength. If you’re interested in learning more about this strength, ask what they find rewarding in their careers. Also, come down to the Career & Internship Services office if you want to learn about your other strengths!

Read about the 33 other Strengths

Read Taylor’s other posts

CliftonStrengths for Students – Responsibility

By: Abby [Futuristic|Communication|WOO|Responsibility|Realtor]

It is time for our weekly CliftonStrengths for Students theme!

This week, we’ll be talking about Responsibility, my fourth strength.

Responsibility is a word everyone is aware of, but in the world of CliftonStrengths for Students, it has a slightly different interpretation.

CliftonStrengths for Students defines Responsibility as:

People who are especially talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.

List of Strengths, Responsibility in green

Responsibility is like a monkey on my back but in the most positive light. If someone asks me to do something, I feel very obligated to follow through. When I commit to completing a project,  volunteer to help a friend, or offer to run an event…I feel psychological ownership over it. I will not let my work be poor because it has my name on it. It also works for the obligations I keep for myself. I feel a need to maintain my values.

Most people say they feel obligated to follow through, and need to keep their values in check, but for me, it is a deep, unfaltering purpose. It can’t be shaken.

CliftonStrengths for Students says, “[for a Responsible person,] excuses and rationalizations are totally unacceptable.” Which makes me laugh because every time I think of giving an excuse, I think about the poem that says, “excuses are the tools of the incompetent.” I believe in that quote and won’t let myself give them.

The negative part is that their conscience can create guilt out of minimal things and bring stress. Also, when people know that you’re dependable, they turn to you with many tasks. The Responsible person can get overwhelmed with duties quite quickly – they take on more than they should.

Here are tips from the book StrengthsQuest: Discover and Develop Your Strengths in Academics, Career, and Beyond, that can help use your Responsibility strength while thinking about careers and career planning.

  • Make an appointment with a career counselor to talk about how to begin the career planning process. The sense of psychological ownership this step creates will engage you in the process and energize you to follow through.
  • You often take initiative, and you always follow through, so you do not need a lot of supervision. Select work in which you can be given more and more responsibility as you progressively achieve.
  • Building trusting relationships with others is important to you, so choose environments in which you can surround yourself with dependable, trustworthy people. When selecting a team to join, be sure the other members are known for pulling their weight.
  • You will be most productive in environments where you can fully follow through on the commitments you make to others.

Responsibility has been a character value for years and years. I am proud of my responsibility, and feel responsible to keep it 😉

Read about the 33 other Strengths

Read Abby’s other posts

Being the Mediator: Harmony

By: Meg [Input | Strategic | Futuristic | Individualization | Activator]

HARMONY: People who are especially talented in the Harmony theme look for consensus. They don’t enjoy conflict; rather, they seek areas of agreement (CliftonStrengths for Students).

List of Strengths; Harmony in green

People with Harmony are very good at keeping the peace. Whether it’s mediating disputes or getting two different groups to work together, people with Harmony are the ones who see both sides and attempt to get others to see them too. They are the perfect person to have in a collaboration effort, as they will strive to get groups to meet halfway. Harmonizers often see the things people have in common and will use that to connect people in the midst of a dispute.

For example, those with Harmony will sit calmly at a meeting in which two developers are arguing over what design is better, and try to help them decide on a design that combines the best of both. When someone is venting at them, they will listen and nod, and then try to get them to look at it a different way, whether to solve the problem or just calm them down. Now that you know what Harmony is, what do you do to work with and develop it?

As someone with Harmony, planning your career path to make sure things go smoothly may be helpful. The knowledge and experience of a Career Counselor may help you as you make decisions. Talk to people who work in jobs that you’re thinking about and ask them what they find rewarding about their job. Think about taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to find what working environment works best with your personality.

Jobs that involve working with people may be a good fit. With your ability to see sides, tolerance, and willingness to compromise, you’ll be a good person to have on the team (In order to complement your skills, you’ll want an Activator or Command on the team to, in order to keep the pace moving and settle disputes that can’t be mediated). Find an environment where the general consensus makes the decisions, and you can work behind the scenes to help make that consensus. Structure is important to: a job where things are regular and stable may be more to your liking than one that is always changing and causing upheaval.

Trying Honing your Harmony skill with these tips:

  1. Work with diverse groups, it’ll help with your mediating skills
  2. Let your opinion be known if you disagree. Sometimes, that can lead to a win-win situation more than being quiet.
  3. Know when conflict is necessary, and team up with those that can help
  4. Remember: Having Harmony is NOT avoidance of conflict, don’t let others (or yourself) get away with dissing your Strength!

Read about the 33 other Strengths

Read Meg’s other posts

No One Brings You Down: Positivity

By: Ashlee

Just this past weekend, my office put on an event involving over 150 people. Lots of details to keep in order! As these events usually go, there were a few unexpected twists to the evening that caught us momentarily off guard. When a handful of things went wrong, one after another, my co-worker started to lose her composure and fret about other possibilities that could happen. Using my positivity, I gave her a brief pep talk, and we went back to work. The evening turned out fabulously! My co-worker later came up to me when we were cleaning up to thank me for the mini pep talk.

List of Strengths; Positivity in green

I tend to go with the flow and not let the lingering details of a mishap bother me. I’m quick to smile and am constantly on the lookout for the positive side in any situation. These traits helped me out that evening in more ways than one. Why? Because I rely heavily on my strength of Positivity.

Think of the classic question: Is the glass half empty or is the glass half full? If one of your Top 5 Strengths is positivity, you’re seeing the glass half full. It’s a trait many people wish they could possess, according to the Gallup Business Journal. This positive energy draws people to be around you. A positive person’s enthusiasm is contagious. People want to join in with you because your passion drips off everything you care about. We all know somebody who never ceases to have a bad day, and you don’t know quite how they do it, but they always manage to make you feel better and pumped up about any project you’re working on.

I never like finding myself in a tense situation, especially with my co-workers or my family and friends. Whenever it happens, I tend to be the one trying to lighten the situation. I have Ellen DeGeneres to thank for that particular outlook in life. Ellen DeGeneres is one of those people who just radiates positivity. I don’t remember where she said it, but her words carried the following message: “No matter what the setback, one should never lose their sense of humor.” Negative energy is toxic, and no one should have to breathe it in. My positivity won’t allow the cynics to drag me down. If anything, those rejecting the positive energy only push me to work harder and strengthen my conviction.

Unfortunately, there are always going to be negative people in the world. Try to avoid those types if you can. Make friends with other positive types, and let them feed your energy, as you will in return. You might also find yourself needing to explain to others that you’re not being naive. You know that bad things will and can happen. We who possess the Positivity Strength simply prefer to focus on the good things. Pessimists might seem wiser; they might even sometimes be right — but they are rarely achievers (and, incidentally, optimists have more fun).

How can you put your positivity to use? Here are a few ways to put your ‘positivity’ into action:

  1. Anywhere you can highlight the positive is where you will excel. A teaching role, a marketing role, an entrepreneurial role, or a leadership role will put your positive outlook to great use. In fact, you might even get a little dramatic…but that’s what’s so contagious about your attitude.
  2. When others become discouraged or are reluctant to take risks, your attitude will provide the push to keep them moving. Over time, others will start to look to you for this “lift.”
  3. Deliberately help others see the things that are going well for them. You can keep their eyes on the positive.
  4. Arm yourself with good stories, jokes, and sayings because people will rely on you to help them get over above their daily frustrations.
  5. Plan activities for your friends and coworkers that will recognize their achievements or add a little fun to an ordinary workday.

If Positivity isn’t one of your top 5 strengths, don’t worry! You can still be a very positive person in life (you probably already knew that!) It’s good to understand the strengths of those who do possess Positivity as one of their top 5. By taking the time to understand your coworker or friends who never cease to find the silver lining to any situation, you will be better prepared to celebrate the successes and take the praise they offer in stride.

Read about the 33 other Strengths

Read Ashlee’s other posts

Pay Very Close Attention: Focus

By: Andrew

Focus can mean many things; today I am going to explain why it is a great strength to have. People who have focus as one of their top 5 strengths are people who are always asking, “Where am I headed?” This strength can be particularly good for people with a busy daily schedule and those who enjoy having daily goals met.

list of strengths; focus in green

I think focus can be interpreted in many ways when talking about it as a strength. The Clifton StrengthsFinder Quick Reference Card briefly describes Focus as, “People who can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.” I think of Focus as a way for me to set goals throughout my day, and for as far away as a year from now. With goal setting, I allow myself to realize and focus on what the most important task at that time is. Focus can also be seen as a great skill if you are taking direction from a superior. Managers and bosses are always looking for people who can execute tasks promptly and correctly.

If one of your top 5 strengths is not Focus, that is OK! However, if you feel Focus would be more of a weakness for you, do not worry, but you should try and understand why people are so focused. By taking the time to understand why your team member is always so into setting goals and acting on them quickly, you will be better equipped to understand their frustrations and why they celebrate successes differently than you.

For those of us who have Focus as a top 5 strength, we should focus (didn’t plan that) on using some of the following “action items” to allow for greater success in our day-to-day lives:

  • When given assignments, clarify timelines and expectations in advance.
  • Use your focus to help groups stay on track in classroom discussion or meetings.
  • You can spend long periods of time concentrating on one thing. This allows you to be highly productive but can lead to even greater excellence if you set aside those periods of time intentionally and let others know why you’re doing that.
  • When you work on group projects, take responsibility for summarizing what was decided, defining when these decisions will be acted upon, and setting a date when the group will reconvene.
  • Partner with Ideation or Strategic talents before honing in on a goal, so you can gain confidence that your Focus talents are aimed in the most effective direction.

With all 34 strengths and only 5 of them being your top 5, take the time to focus on what you do best. We all have strengths and weaknesses but it is our strengths that set us apart. So make your strengths shine through!

Read about the other 33 Strengths.

Read Andrew’s other posts

Being an Includer

By: Cody [Achiever|Futuristic|Includer|Adaptability|Restorative]

So you have Includer as one of your strengths from the CliftonStrengths for Students, and you may be thinking what is it?

First off, it’s not a real word ha-ha, but its root word “include” is a real word and is the essence of what this strength is. Includer means you always want to include everyone in the things you do, and you do not want to leave anyone out. You are an accepting person and you cast very few, if any, judgments on people. Being an Includer shows you are a compassionate person and do not want anyone to be left out.

List of Strengths; includer in green

How do you apply this Includer strength to your career path?

You can use Includer in your career path whenever you work in groups. Group work in the workplace is very common and is used to accomplish many different tasks. The benefit you have as an Includer is that you like to include everyone in the group and get them involved. This can be very beneficial for you, especially when you are working on particularly hard tasks. Inviting more people into your group gives you the advantage of having more points of view and a diverse set of skills. The more people you have, the more creative ideas you may come up with that may have never crossed your mind if it was just you working on the project. Your project will then become even better than it was before by using these creative ideas. You can also split the workload up more by having more people in your group, which makes it so that one person doesn’t end up doing most of the work and getting burned-out. So being an Includer can help you increase your efficiency and effectiveness of group projects that you have to do throughout your career.

I have had a personal experience using my Includer strength and inviting someone into a group project. It was during this past semester in my Healthcare Information Technology class. The group project was to design and implement a simple electronic health record. In my group, there were four Healthcare Management Majors so we knew exactly what needed to be in the electronic health record and how to implement it, but we had no idea how to design it. Then one day I noticed someone who was without a group and so I asked him if they wanted to join our group. He agreed and it turns out he was a Management Information Technology major and knew exactly how to design the electronic health record but had no idea how to do the other stuff. So it worked out perfectly that he knew how to do what we didn’t know and vice-versa. By using my Includer strength and inviting this person into our group, we created a better project than any of us could have created, separately.

This is just one example of how the Includer strength can help you along your career path, trust me, there are many more. If you want to discuss more ways you can use your Includer strength, come to Career & Internship Services (SCC 22) and make an appointment with a Career Counselor, they would be more than happy to help you!

Read about the 33 other Strengths

Read Cody’s other posts