According to Gallup’s StrengthsFinder, people high in the Significance cluster of talents “want to be very important in others’ eyes. They are independent and want to be recognized.” Gallup Theme Descriptions
When first introduced to the talent of Significance, many squirm uncomfortably. They think of a colleague, employee, boss or family member and shake their head in bemusement or reproof. Those who find the talent listed in their top 5, often shuffle a little lower in their seat or announce, ‘the test got it wrong’.
I’ve seen similar reactions to talents such as Command (in women), Empathy or Harmony (in men) and Competition (in both men and women).
Why do some talents engender such a negative response? Have we become so conditioned by society that we see something vital to our wellbeing as shameful?
My son has Significance in his top 5 (alongside Arranger, Includer, Adaptability and Harmony). When he first saw his talents he said; “but Mum, these are all the things I hate about myself”. It was an eye opening moment for both of us and lead to some deeply frank discussions. We explored self talk and the stories we’d been holding. We learnt about our preconceptions and misconceptions. He’d been weighed down by the impression there was something shameful about his most driving motivations. He’d shoved them down to a place they wouldn’t be noticed. Yet they played in the dark spaces of his mind sending out tendrils of anxiety and low self esteem. My son was denying the very things that made him strong – the aspects of himself that gave him a sense of worth. He was under using his Significance and it hurt. As mum, I realised I’d been carrying a balloon of positivity – all air and no substance. I’d only seen what was working in his life and had tried to remind him of his kindness and genuine care of others. I thought I was offering him what he needed when in actuality, I was adding to the problem. I didn’t see how he felt about what I was saying.
Talk about a penny dropping.
Looking back I see the conversation was a pivotal moment in our life. My son went from an anxious teenager to a confident young man in the space of 6 months. He owned his talents and it changed his life. Rather than accepting a preconception, he decided to take charge and be who he was born to be. In realising the power of his Significance talent (and what he could do with his Arranger, Includer, Harmony and Adaptability) he began to move the pieces of his life together and create a place for himself. In doing so he improved the life of others.
This is the strength of a talent such as Significance. It falls into Gallup’s leadership domain of Influence. Significance can be a gentle hand that inspires those around it to take action. It’s a talent that instinctively knows how to offer proactive feedback. Leaders with Significance know how to give their team the recognition they need most. A manager with Significance notices employee’s strengths and helps aim those talents where they’ll do most good. A teacher with Significance raises the profile of class and each student in it. A parent with Significance knows how to encourage their child’s effort and offer meaningful praise that inspires them forward. When a person offers significance, connection is built, positive emotion is exchanged and growth happens. As my son realised, Significance is a transformative strength to be proud of.
How often do people marginalise or trivialise a talent because the word itself is misunderstood? As a personal quality, significance is vital. In fact it has been recognised as a core need. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Esteem is near the top of the triangle. Put simply, we need to know what we do has value and is recognised. Feeling as though your contribution is significant and brings value to the group, fuels a sense of belonging and connection.
People high in Significance offer a vital component of a person’s overall sense of happiness and well being. A person who is high in Significance talents is motivated by the need to give. Yet so often this need is misinterpreted as a desire to be seen. However, being seen as important is not the intention, rather it is a gauge. It signals the usefulness of what was given and inspires connection, growth and further contributions.
Although I’ve concentrated on the talent of Significance, I could have equally written about any of Gallup’s 34 talents. Each one has a barrier label or negative preconception that must be overcome before a person can truely own their talents. Complicating this challenge is a tendency to merge preconceived ideas about a word with the talent’s name – the difference between the act of empathy and the talent of Empathy is one that often causes confusion. However, a deliberate, intentional exploration of self talk and stories can change these misconceptions and improve lives.
Just ask my son.
If you have Significance in your top 5 and want to learn how to love it, get in touch. If you’re struggling to accept your talents Nicole offers 1:1 coaching that’ll help you find peace in what you do best. She uses her core talents of Strategic, Connectedness, Learner, Intellection and Input to help people recognise the thoughts and emotions holding them back. As a Gallup certified Strengths Coach, Nicole has the experience and expertise to help you find and develop your strengths. Be more effective in communication, have positive relationships and feel confident in your purpose. Contact Nicole today for a free, ‘Connect to my path’ coaching consultation.
We can arrange face to face consultations on the Gold Coast or Sydney. Alternatively ask about our Zoom sessions.
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