Summary of Living Your Strengths by Winseman, Clifton and Liesveld

Living Your Strengths: Discover Your God-Given Talents and Inspire Your Community: Catholic Edition by Albert Winseman, Donald Clifton, Curt Liesveld, Gallup, 2008. 

This book is based on the Clifton StrengthsFinder – a Web-based talent assessment tool that reveals “your Signature Themes” – your “top five” themes of talent.

Talents are naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behaviour that can be productively applied (they cannot be acquired). Your spontaneous, top-of-mind reactions to the situations you encounter are the best indicators of your talents” (8).

“Your Signature Themes – your “top five” themes of talent – are unique to you. In fact, your chances of meeting someone with the same Signature Themes, regardless of order, are less than 1 in 275,000. And as incredible as it may seem, there is only a 1 in 33 million chance that you will meet someone whose Signature Themes match yours and are in the same order. Now that’s unique!” (63-64).

Once we discover our God-given talents, we can add helpful knowledge and other skills to these talents to build strengths – “the ability to consistently deliver near-perfect performance in a specific task” (64).

“Naming our top talents gives us permission to stop trying to be who we are not and concentrate on who we are – who we were originally created to be” (10).

Whenever possible, avoid using areas of lesser talent. A lesser talent becomes a weakness only when you try to use it” (25).

“Talents do not exist in a vacuum; your talents modify, influence, and enhance each other” (65).

Your talents will show you how God wants you to accomplish your calling in life. Dare to dream about what you can do for God. How can you combine your talents and passions to fulfil your calling at the parish?

“When you discover your talents, you begin to discover your calling. When you build and apply strengths by making the most of your greatest talents, you fulfil your calling” (228).

Here is a list of the 34 Signature Themes of Talent:
1. Achiever
  • You are driven and productive.
  • You help the group achieve their goals.
  • You should lead groups, organize projects, get involved in big programs.
2. Relator
  • You can form close genuine relationships and want to work hard with others to achieve a task.
  • You help the group foster productive relationships.
  • You should start a small group, volunteer for small events, help people at the parish get to know each other and build trusting relationships.
3. Focus
  • You can set goals, prioritize, and take action.
  • You help the group determine priorities and get work done.
  • You should help others set goals and also get involved with committees that need to accomplish a vast, complex goal.
4. Competition
  • You revel in contests, work hard, and always compete to win.
  • You help the group by encouraging them to a higher level of excellence.
  • You should find what successful parishes do and help your parish develop ways to improve.
5. Belief
  • You have core values and a clear purpose for your life.
  • You help the group by holding them to a high standard.
  • You should be involved in a ministry that allows you to share your faith openly.
6. Activator
  • You make things happen by turning thoughts into action.
  • You help the group get things going and then done.
  • You should always ask for action-oriented tasks and be open to beginning new initiatives at the parish.
7. Learner
  • You have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve.
  • You help the group by quickly learning new concepts.
  • You should participate in faith studies, start a book club, and attend conferences and workshops.
8. Significance
  • You want to make a powerful contribution in the lives of others.
  • You help the group make a lasting impact.
  • You should help lead a big project at the parish, dream big for your parish and use your expertise to make it happen.
9. Strategic
  • You create alternative ways to proceed.
  • You help the group carefully consider the task and then pursue the best path to take.
  • You should be a part of your parish’s strategic planning team.
10. Intellection
  • You are introspective, love to study, and prefer intellectual discussions.
  • You help the group find innovative ideas and solutions.
  • You should review and recommend articles and books that are important for members of your parish to read and lead in-depth studies.
11. Command
  • You have presence and take charge.
  • You help the group get through difficult times and make tough decisions.
  • You should look for opportunities to lead and to get involved in the most challenging ministries.
12. Futuristic
  • You are a dreamer and you inspire others with your positive visions of the future.
  • You help and inspire the group to see future possibilities.
  • You should be involved in planning the future of the parish, especially during ambitious projects (building project) or major changes (new pastor).
13. Adaptability
  • You live in the moment and prefer to “go with the flow.”
  • You help the group to keep moving forward when the unexpected happens.
  • You should take on short-term roles at the parish that need to be filled quickly, avoid roles that demand structure and predictability,
14. Restorative
  • You can notice problems quickly and solve them energetically.
  • You help the group detect problems and resolve it.
  • You should help in counselling, maintenance work.
15. Responsibility
  • You are dependable and work hard to fulfill all of your commitments.
  • You help the group establish trust.
  • You should start an accountability group and only choose areas in which you are passionate.
16. Self-Assurance
  • You are confident in your life choices and ability to overcome crises.
  • You help the group by standing up to overcome struggles.
  • You should avoid ministries that impose a structure on you and be on a team that needs you to push them.
17. Connectedness
  • You see that all things happen for a reason.
  • You help the group unite and see the bigger picture.
  • You should join or start a prayer ministry and visit members of your parish who cannot attend Mass.
18. Input
  • You are inquisitive, collect things, and crave information.
  • You help the group by providing expert knowledge in one area.
  • You should help at the parish library (or start one) and contribute to the parish newsletter or website
19. Ideation
  • You love new ideas and enjoy making connections between difficult topics.
  • You help the group generate new insights and see things from a new perspective.
  • You should get involved with any parish ministry that needs to make a change.
20. Analytical
  • You search for reasons and causes.
  • You help the group by asking tough questions.
  • You should get involved in intellectually-challenging ministries like RCIA and the finance committee.
21. Deliberative
  • You are careful and make very good decisions.
  • You help the group thoroughly consider each option.
  • You should help leaders to explore all the important details and factors that go into wise decision making.
22. Positivity
  • You are optimistic and enthusiastic.
  • You help the group stay upbeat and excited.
  • You should help plan celebrations for your parish and find ministries in which you can encourage others (new members, prison ministry).
23. Individualization
  • You have a gift to see the unique qualities of each person.
  • You help the group work together and form trusting relationships.
  • You should become a mentor to new members of your parish, be a task force leader, help in counselling and identifying others’ talents.
24. Communication
  • You like to explain, to describe, to host, to speak in public, and to write.
  • You help the group understand ideas and make those ideas stick.
  • You should take on public speaking roles, like helping to communicate the parish’s vision to the rest of the parish
25. Maximizer
  • You focus on strengths and seek excellence.
  • You help the group focus on their talents to maximize success.
  • You should avoid being in committees that need problem-solving but rather seek roles in which you can help others succeed (coaching, mentoring, teaching).
26. Developer
  • You recognize and cultivate the potential in others.
  • You help a group discover signs of growth and encourage them in their progress.
  • You should become aware of the goals of others at the parish and be open to being a spiritual director.
27. Arranger
  • You are highly organized and highly flexible.
  • You help the group by matching the right combinations of people & resources to complete the projects successfully.
  • You should serve on parish committees that take on large projects and be involved in the operations of the parish.
28. Discipline
  • You enjoy routine, structure, and deadlines.
  • You help the group stay organized and on task.
  • You should help keep your parish’s records, volunteer to keep the parish calendar of events current and accurate, and serve on committees that need more discipline.
29. Consistency
  • You try to treat everyone the same by setting up clear rules and adhering to them.
  • You help a group see inconsistencies and create a more equitable workplace.
  • You should help leaders know who really deserves credit and thanks at the parish.
30. Harmony
  • You look for agreement and avoid conflict.
  • You help the group to come together and reconcile differing viewpoints.
  • You should get involved with hands-on, practical projects, build a network of people with different perspectives, and help reconcile any conflicts at the parish.
31. Empathy
  • You can sense the feelings of other people, anticipate their needs, and help others express their emotional life.
  • You help the group feel heard and you form close, supportive relationships.
  • You should provide spiritual support and get involved in 3rd world country initiatives.
32. Woo
  • You love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over.
  • You help the group quickly connect as friends.
  • You should be a Mass greeter, offer welcome and sponsor new members, take charge of large social events, help campaign projects.
33. Context
  • You enjoy thinking about the past and discover patterns to understand the present.
  • You help the group by providing a historical perspective to make decisions.
  • You should write an account of the history of your parish, help groups resolve strained relationships and lead historical bible studies.
34. Includer
  • You reach out to others and want them welcome.
  • You help the group feel unified and effective.
  • You should actively contact and welcome those outside your parish and invite them to visit, be a greeter at Mass, and assist with parish-wide surveys.


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