Episode 116: Finding Your Strengths and Living Them

Do you ever wonder why you function in the manner that you do? Your answer to this question can be found in this episode! In this episode, Jimmy shares his discovery of Strengthfinders 2.0, a book that helped him understand why he does what he does in life.

Episode Keys

  • What are the themes in life that are your strengths.
  • Why it is vital that you understand your primary themes in life and how to use them to grow.
  • Who you are in your family unit and how to use this tool for your team’s functions.
  • When to invoke your strengths and why.

Podcast Transcript

Good morning! This is Jimmy Williams with Live a Life By Design, your Monday morning moments of motivation, and I am bringing you today something that will be one of the most powerful tools you’ll ever invest in yourself. I’ll get to that in just a moment.

Have you ever noticed that life sometimes comes across as a curve ball, and maybe you’re expecting a fast ball down the middle? If I could use a baseball analogy, I’m a big baseball fan. And recently I had something occur in the home that took out one of my 10 fingers… Dislocated it, can’t use it. And you’re going to laugh when I tell you which one it is. It’s the pinky finger. Now most of us don’t give the pinky finger enough credit for all that that little appendage does sitting out there at the end of the hand. But let me tell you, when you get a split on one and you get it wrapped up and you can’t use it in its normal fashion, you quickly realize how important that little guy is to the overall grip of your hand and for basically things you do all day from showering to shaving, getting ready for your office in the morning, dialing a phone, I mean, typing on your laptop. It is incredible how important each of those fingers are to the function of the body.

So I’m going to bring that in correlation today to something that I believe will transform your way of functioning in life so that it gives you a much bigger, better, and bolder opportunity for success. You know, we try to bring to you every Monday something that will inspire you today. I don’t want to just inspire. I want to excite you about something that transformed my life many years ago.

There was a book that came out, oh, it’s been now out several years and it’s probably in its, I don’t know, 30th reprint at this point, but this book was such a transition in my life that it came out like in 2007, I believe. And I bought this book with the mindset, “I’m just going to see what it says.” And I read the book and immediately it clicked with me in how I function, my strengths that I have in my personality, my cognitive ability, my physical ability, my outlook on life. And it also pointed out to me that there are other attributes about a person that is within them, but it’s not a very active role or it’s not a dominant feature. So you probably guessed what I’m talking about. When I said strengths, I’m talking about this StrengthsFinder 2.0 book by Tom Rath, that Tom wrote an excellent book based on research and studying of humans and how we function, the types of activities we undertake based on habits, these types of things.

And so I took this small test. So when you get a chance to buy the book – it’s in the show notes -you can go to Amazon, get the book, in the back of that book becomes a key code, and that key code will take you to the website. You enter the key code, and then you take this short, very short quiz. But what it brings to mind are the 34 areas of life or how you’ve made function, if you will, your strengths in life. And it gives you your top five, that really dominate how you are as a person. And I wanted to share with you today. Because you know, we’re all about honesty here. I would tell you that I’m going to always share with you something that I’m being totally honest with you about, unless I either precede or add an antecedent to my conversation that I am embellishing, today I’m not embellishing. So I’m hoping that this inspires everyone, including, I want to give a shout out to one of our engineering team. Dakota is his name. I’ll tell you this young man apparently never sleeps. He works with me, and so obviously he’s just a Type A personality, right? He’s a go getter. I want to give a shout out to him. I have failed to recognize him personally throughout this podcast, but hey, I’m going to tell you this young man is talented beyond means. He makes me sound this distinguished voice but I really don’t sound anything like this.

Oh, that’s not true. Okay. So let’s talk about the StrengthsFinder 2.0 and what it really means to us. So I did perform… I bought the book. I performed on the short quiz it gave me, and I’ve got my top five themes, or, if you will strengths, that really define Jimmy Williams. Now yours will be most likely different and everyone is different. You know, that’s one thing I love about the world we live – you don’t want two or three Jimmy Williams running around because I’ve got to tell you, the world may be a boring place. We want some exciting people to run around, right? We want people that have personality beyond measure. And so I basically have my five top themes or strengths here. And this is in the order reversing from five to one. So number five significance – and I’m going to go into some detail of what each of these are just a little bit – number four, responsibility, number three, activator number two -and it’s no shock to everyone here – positivity. If you didn’t guess that one out of all 34 themes, I missed the mark, but my number one was not a shock to me either. So my number one thing or strength is learner as well. I always considered myself a lifetime learner. And this is how I understand that the facts borne out in this book StrengthsFinder 2.0 are founded in science: I’ve always had a desire to read. A quick story… Back when I was a young child, we didn’t have a lot of books in the house, but we had a Britannica encyclopedia set and I’ll never forget… The youngest of six children in a very, very small community, so we didn’t have a public library, and I basically read anything and everything I could get my hands on that would give me some insight to grow my knowledge at the age of four.

No, that’s what my sister said. I don’t recall this. But she said at the age of four, they were looking for me one day and I was not in the home. And they found me, of all places, in a tree house that my brother and I had built and in the tree house where I was, I was reading an encyclopedia, no joke. They couldn’t believe I was up there for one, but the reading of the encyclopedia at age four, that’s another. Now I will admit that I most likely was looking at some of the pictures in the encyclopedia, which were of a brilliant color and great specimens of snakes, space, travel, whatever, you know, those things, that excite a young boy. But I will say to you that the funny thing was, is I didn’t realize, but that seed had already been planted that I would be a lifetime learner

My sister then commented as I grew up in life, I would read all kinds of books. And I found myself at a local library and not too many miles from our small town that had what I thought opened the doors to wisdom. I thought it had opened the doors to excitement, to new worlds, because it gave me a chance to read all different types of genres and find what I really enjoy the most and what area of books I really wanted to explore. So the point about lifetime learner is to me, it was born out, not just in how I was becoming a person from the young age of four, but to who I am today. I love to learn new things and I love to read, so that’s born out in the StrengthsFinder. So let’s talk a little bit though about what each of these mean is a part of my way of conducting myself.

So number five. So we talk about significance. So really significance is basically, if you want to be very important in the eyes of others. So you’re very independent. You want to be recognized, you know, almost to a point – I hate to admit that this may be a little bit shallow – but what I think it brought about is I’m the youngest of six children. There was always a very, very competitive state in our family. We’re all very talented in sports. So we had seen who brought home the largest of trophies that summer, or, you know, who was the fastest at the family reunion in the the 50-yard dash or something. We always had competition in our family. As a matter of fact what we did is we prayed over every meal, which is not unusual for larger families, but we prayed over every meal. Each of us having one eye open so we can see who got to the food first. But that’s not true. I didn’t say that out loud. Did I? But my point I’m making is very competitive family. And so I enjoy this competitive streak so much that I began to gain recognition in sports: basketball, baseball… I enjoyed anything I could: dirt, bike, motor racing. I enjoyed every aspect of being recognized for standing out. You know, I also enjoy speaking with new people, especially those in our profession that we wish to read into the profession that are just getting their careers off the ground. I enjoy speaking with them and you know, I’m always eager to welcome these people who are probably quite different from most of us. I often seek out someone in the room that may not appear – and remember, at Live a Life By Design, we don’t care what your outward appearance is, we care what your inward person is – and so I always seek out people that are different than me from the outside, but I have so much in common on the inside. And so this is one of those strengths to me that I had just put as the foundation to my drive in life that I wish to be more than I am today, tomorrow.

The fourth one was responsibility. And man, this one has been born out since day one. I’ll never forget. I took great responsibility for a job in life. I always wanted to be an independent child. Again, I think it goes back to that competitive nature among our family. One thing that I did is I sold newspapers. For example, I’d get up early on my bike and our little town and I’d throw newspapers back in the day, or I would sell flower seeds or vegetable seeds. I worked on farms as I got older and got a little stronger. I did all kinds of manual labor. I even set up my own company at the young age of 14 and hauled hay and did agriculture work that I could create more income. Again, wanting to go back to being responsible. You know, one thing I tell everyone is that you’ve got to be responsible and the way to do that is through your actions, not your words. So often it’s easy to say what you want to do, but it’s better to do what you need to do to show others you’re responsible. One of the best ways to show responsibility is to do what you say and say what you’ll do – you know, your yes means yes, your no means no. Now I do realize we live in a world where we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. We’re getting a little bit over… I’m going to say over politically, correct. I think this is really bringing damage to our communication among our species. People don’t really know if what you’re telling them is the truth, or if in fact you believe it because you’re trying to mince your works to such a point that you don’t harm anyone’s feelings. Now I’m not asking you to go out and just be brutally honest with people. And if your wife were to ask you, does this dress make me look fat? Well man, I’ve got to tell you, if you have one ounce of brain in that head, you’re not going to immediately say yes, you’re going to look at it from a different angle and say, “Do I wish to sleep on the sofa tonight?” That would be my question I’d first ask myself before I answered.

But now the point I’m making is, I’m not asking you to be rude. I am asking us to be honest, but with some tax to make sure that we’re not just hurting people’s feelings. So responsibility is a commonplace with honesty. And so if we’re going to be responsible, you know, it just takes a psychological approach to what we do in life to say to ourselves, I’m going to do the right thing even if no one is watching.

And number three, my number three strength is one that I think is evident from the way I’ve always lived. It says I’m an activator. An activator is one that goes out and creates things to happen, makes things happen. And this says basically that we can turn our thoughts into action. So I like to call it a value creator, right? So we create solutions, which is one of my top three things I do in our company is create those solutions to resolve our clients’ challenges and issues. You know, we are not the ones that create the problem, the problems are brought to us. We are merely those talented people that resolve them or solve them for people. And so one of the strengths that I love to have is my activator strength. You know, I’ve got expertise and knowledge and special areas or topics of life. And we worked to guide people through that decision-making process with that strength. So, you know, at any point I could in high school, when they said, do you know the answer, raise your hand. I gotta be honest with you. I was one of those guys. It was always prepared for class. I enjoyed the learning, and we’ll get to that in just a moment, so much that I really dedicated myself to excelling in sports, excelling and learning, excelling in every aspect of life that I could.

And again, I think that’s that competitive nature in a good way that allows me to do so. So I was an activator, and it says you’re also one of these people that may become a little impatient. Now, this is where I want to do some confession to my good friends. You subscribers know me by now. This is the 116th episode. So that means you’ve heard me an awful lot over the last two years. I’m going to tell you now that I am probably not as patient as I should be, but when I, as an activator, someone that’s esteemed with a significance, for example, I really pick up the ball and I start running once I formulate a game plan. So to me in football terminology, it would be a hurry up offense. I know what I’m going to do. I bark out the play to my team and I’m ready to run.

Now some on my team are not activators, which means they basically say, “Wait just a minute, Jimmy. Now, we need to understand some other tangents from what this will do, what it could cause what it will solve. We can’t just pick up the ball. Now you’ve called the play head hurting. Here we go.” And so, you know, it takes all of us to reach balance in our organizations. But boy, if we didn’t have those of us that are activators, you would see companies that would founder from analysis paralysis, right? I know enough of what I need to know to move forward on something. I don’t just sit down and study it to continue to study deeper.

Number two, this should shock, as I said, no one – positivity. You know, this is an opportunity to say that I believe this is a God-given gift. I have been around people that have been gifted the opposite, and I don’t last very long around them. You know, the ones that the glass is half empty. The sun’s always setting. It’s never a new day. You know, the sky is falling. You know, these people. And you know, my dad had a phrase he would say in his very, we say a Southern vernacular, some people would complain if you hung them with a new rope. I mean, that’s where they’re at in life, right? And so, I’m just the opposite. So I’m very, very much positive in what I do, and my attitudes are very upbeat. I feel full of energy 99.9% of the time. Now let me say though, you remember those battery commercials, Energizer where the bunny rabbits walking around, beating the drum and he goes, and he goes, he goes, and all the other batteries operating those bunnies around him are all now dead. They’re falling over. I’ve got to tell you, I’m one of those bunnies like Energizer. I can go and go and go. But when it is time for me to hit that bed at night, I am out, I do my reading and I’m gone. So it’s a very much a peak and valley thing sometimes. But I will tell you this: I look at life as little victories. Now, how many of you have ever won a Pulitzer prize and listened to this podcast? I would venture you either none or one. How many of us have ever done anything in life that would warrant us to get a congressional medal of honor? Again, I would mention maybe one or none of us listening to this podcast. Now that’s not to say you haven’t achieved, but what I’m saying is the little victories in life are what keep you motivated to stay positive and keep going.

I don’t look for home runs. I am a single and double hitter in baseball analogy. I enjoy those smaller victories. Win the game, that’s the big victory. Did I contribute to that? Yes. In some small form singles and doubles, there is the victory. So I look for positives. You know, so many people look at it and say, well, I didn’t win the entire situation, but I did win 90%. And they will claim that. As a failure, I look at that as just the opposite. I look at that as an opportunity to say, yeah, I am 90% better than most of the people in the race. For example, I just didn’t beat the one man or woman ahead of me. And don’t laugh sometimes when I’m in those races, 5Ks, for example that man or woman may actually be a very young child. Some of them are eight to 10 years old and can outrun me. But that’s another story for another day. My positivity is I got the finish. I got the tee shirt and I got the ribbon and I’m good. I’ve got to have positivity in my life. The world is so negative. The one thing you must do, if you have a positivity string, is feed the positivity. Reminds me of the old Indian speaking to the young lad. He said, let me explain to you why there are these two dogs. And these two dogs were both of the same breed. One dog though was very poorly, right? Very, very shy, very, very, beat down. The other dog, powerful, very outspoken, very strong, very aggressive. And the youngest, well, if they’re from the same family and the same breed, why would one be different than the other? And he says, “Just because I fed the, the stronger one with me. I fed him with praise. I fed him with a positive tone in my voice. I did the opposite to the other dog.” And so the point I’m making is you’ve got to feed that personality. You’ve got to feed your positivity to continue that.

My number one though, is going back to the learner strength to be a lifetime learner means to me that I’m never happy with the status quo in terms of knowledge. Now, I didn’t say in terms of other things, but knowledge particularly, I am very, very proud to say, I want to grow my knowledge base every day. There’s always something in our profession that changes literally daily. That’s why I enjoy so much what I get to do in life and to help people. If you want to learn more about life, you’ve got to feed your mind with some pure, positive, powerful messages every day. This podcast on Monday morning is one of those, but you must also eat the other days of the week. So I recommend good books such as you’ll see on our live a life by design website. Look under Jimmy’s top read, start reading some of those books, filling your mind with those positive things. You’ll find that you eventually push out the negatives of the world that have taken home in your mind. But I want you to understand this. You will be you. Do not try to pick the five top strengths that I mentioned today. For me, take an opportunity to learn more about yourself. By buying the book, taking the key code from the bag, enter it in the website it provides and just see how you truly function. It doesn’t take but just a few minutes, but the point is now you know how you function. Then ask all of those that you work with directly on your team, at whatever job you have to do the same. This will give you a greater understanding for the entire team and how they function so that you may function more unified and more efficient together. Not everyone on my team could have the same strengths and I would not wish to hire them if they did. I tell people I’m the 80% man, I can get things started quickly. My Kolbe scores are 7 4 6 3, which means I am a quick start. That goes back to that Activator the theme in my life that I don’t just sit still. I have got to move forward in life with things. Once I have the basic facts I need to do so now you can get are more facts as you go. But if all of you had the same people on your team as yourself, you’re going to find you never get anything done, or you butt heads the entire time trying to accomplish tests.

So this is why I recommend StrengthsFinder 2.0. It is to help you understand more about the most important person in life right now, and that’s you. You know, your challenge this week is to do something very simple just by the book. Like I said, take the quiz, find out about yourself, but then the next step has to occur. If we’re going to learn about ourselves, we must then adapt what we do to use those strengths for more powerful means not for power up on our own, but to empower those around us, what you will find is that your strengths will be emboldened and you, my friend will be living life by design.

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