Plan Your 2016 Dream Trip

In today’s video, I want to take the dream vacation and show you a four step process to help you make your own dream trip this coming 2016.

Click here to watch my video Plan Your Dream Trip

Have you ever taken a dream vacation?

In 2014, my wife and I took one of those dream vacations, and it all started because we were watching a movie called “Mamma Mia!”.

During that movie, we both were just fascinated by the Country of Greece and the Island of Santorini because of the gorgeous views and the blue Mediterranean Sea.

I remember looking at Rhonda and saying, “Babe, wouldn’t it be awesome if we could go to Greece?

Whenever we start dreaming and take our own dream trip in life, the first thing we’ve got to do is start at the 30,000-foot level. That’s where you have a vision.

Picture a jet airplane that is going to take you from wherever you are all the way to your dream destination.

Download Your 2016 Dream Trip Handout Now

In this particular story, it really started with just dreaming and having a big vision. I didn’t know if it would ever come true.

That’s exactly what I want to encourage you to do, is to write down over the next 3 years, what do you want to be, do and have. I like to ask my clients to write down 30 specific dreams – 10 dreams that you want to be, 10 that you want to do, and 10 that you want to have.

Would you write your 30 Be-Do-Haves to help you prepare for your dream trip?

The second part of taking your dream trip for 2016 is to come down to a 12,000-foot level. Literally, that is where you are going to write your goals.

Think about 2016, and write down the top 12 goals or projects that you want to accomplish.

Like with my wife and I going to Santorini, Greece. I remember writing a goal card at the beginning of the year, and literally I put a picture of the Santorini Island on that 3×5 card, and I wrote the affirmation “I am enjoying my wife and Greece in 2014”.

Literally, I set that goal to create that dream vacation.

Download Your 2016 Dream Trip Handout Now

In the third step of this process of achieving your 2016 dream trip, you’ve got to think of your dream at a 3,000-foot level.

I have done a lot of flying lately, traveling around the world, doing workshops for entrepreneurs and CEOs and one of the things that happens when you are getting ready to land is you’ll hear the captain say, “Prepare for landing!

That’s where you’re going to look at your 90-day plan.

In 3 months, 90 days, what are the top 3 priorities that you want to accomplish?

That’s what I want you to write down now.

In this fourth step of the process of going to your 2016 dream trip, it’s where you’ve got to put the rubber to the road, and that literally means that you’ve got to think about landing your plane on the runway.

Think about this as your weekly action steps.

Every Sunday or Monday, I want you to write down what are your top 3 action steps to complete either 1 of your 90-day priorities, or all 3 of your 90-day priorities.

All dream vacations and all dream trips begin first with a high level 30,000-foot vision of what you want to be, do and have.

Then it comes closer to that 12,000-foot level where you get clear on your goals for each month of your year.

The third step is to prepare for landing, and that means coming down to that 3,000-foot level, writing your top 3 priorities and accomplishing those in 90 days.

Finally, you have to set weekly action steps to accomplish those 90-day goals until finally, you have landed in your beautiful vacation spot and landed that dream.

That’s exactly what happened with my wife and I in 2014.

Not only did we enjoy the beautiful Island of Greece, the island of Santorini, but also I got to meet two of my clients, one in Greece and one in Turkey.

I had done Skype coaching with them, but I had never met them face to face, and so during that trip, it was such an honor to spend time with them.

That’s what I would love to do with you.

Download Your 2016 Dream Trip Handout Now

If you want to have a conversation about how to help you to take your dream trip in 2016, contact

Let’s talk strengths!


StrengthsFinder in Love and Relationships

couple-looking-at-a-laptop2_460x300He was so strong, straight forward, and controlling. She was so sensitive, passive, and wounded. They came to my coaching office as a last ditch effort to save their marriage while they were separated.

In the past I would have tried to fix their weaknesses. Now I immediately spotted their strengths. What if they could have a language to call their talent themes? What if they could both embrace the value of each others strengths? What if they both could begin to leverage each others strengths in their love relationship?

Sure enough my hunch was confirmed. After taking the StrengthsFinder assessment and coming to the next session his #1 talent theme was command and her #1 talent theme empathy. Command is defined as having presence, being direct, and exerting control in situations that seem out of control. Empathy is defined as being sensitive to others feelings and bringing emotional intelligence.

I showed them my Strenghtometer analogy how 1-40 MPH is coasting (under using a talent), 41-80 MPH is cruising (appropriately using a talent) and 81-120 MPH is speeding or (over using a talent to a detriment). How could they both drive their talent themes appropriately with each other, their blended family, in each situation?

That was the work in the next three coaching sessions.

As an intentional way of softening his commanding presence, he shaved off his duck dynasty beard he had grown for years as a surprise for her in the next coaching session. She had never seen him without his beard. You could feel the tender energy in the room when she gently placed her hands on his cleanly shaven face for the first time. This act of empathetic affection drew them closer in love and emotional intimacy.

The journey of leveraging their strengths at being a great spouse was now starting to cruise.

My StrengthsFinder mentor, Curt Liesveld wrote “How to Aim your Talent Themes at Being a Great Spouse” for all 34 StrengthsFinder talent themes.
Read below.

Command – I could use this theme to fight for my marriage by confronting external threats and by dealing directly with internal pressures.

Empathy – I show my love to my spouse by sensing their emotions, accepting and valuing their emotions, and encouraging their expression.

If you and your love partner want to learn how to aim your talent themes at being a great spouse then join me for the (actually webinar)
on Sunday February 9th 6-9 PM CST and Monday February 10th 6-9 PM CST from anywhere in the world.

Recordings will be available from this webinar.

What talents are you and your spouse speeding with?
Are you aiming your strengths at being a great spouse?

Please like, share, and discuss your comments and questions below.

The 5 Stages of Strong Teams

<BRGail Utter, Wells Fargo Advisors
5 Stages of Strong Teams
(Based on Bruce Tuckman’s Model)
1. Forming- Trust is crucial in the beginning stage of teamwork. Facilitating your team to know each other, especially each others authentic strengths is paramount. Invite your team to share “Peak Experiences” when they felt happy, in the flow, and living at their best.

2. Storming- Team members inevitably experience conflict. It’s natural for people to jockey position of authority, ideas, and roles. Leaders will begin to emerge within the team and compassion is important to help the team feel safe and embrace diversity.

How do your team members deal with conflict?

3. Norming- Rules, norms and patterns are established that are acceptable and unacceptable for successful teams. Stability is gained when individuals and teams have clarity, focus, and accountability.

4. Performing- High performing teams hold each other accountable and rely less on one leader. There is a high sense of mission and passion. Leaders and teams at this stage empower hope and optimism to reach higher goals faster with more efficiency.

5. Transforming- Every team will encounter a crisis point to end, continue the same performance, or transform to the next higher level. Strengths team coaching is a great way to renew your teams aspirations for passion, performance, and profits.

The 3 Stages of Strengths Transformation

When I facilitate strengths coaching and workshops I share this quote and the three stages of strengths transformation.

Everybody Is A Genius - StrengthsFinder Coaching

1. Strengths Appreciation

Can you imagine this discouraged fish struggling with strengths blindness and strengths envy. Like many of us we can’t see our own strengths genius and we value others talents more than our own. We focus on what’s wrong with us rather than what’s right with us.

The first stage of strengths transformation is to fully embrace who we are not and appreciate our strengths package.

2. Strengths Application

The school of life is where we gain knowledge, learn strategies and skills, then practice until a talent is transformed into an applied strength.

Einstein was a genius in the area of physics and specifically the theory of relativity however he had a weakness in social intelligence and relationships.

Individual Strengths coaching is the best way to take your intellectual understanding of strengths into a deep emotional application of strengths into your work, your relationships, your leadership-communication, and your entire life.

3. Strengths Aspirations

What are your burning aspirations? After getting clear on what you aspire to then you can point your strengths development in that direction. What do you aspire to?

Is it to be a thought leader? A novelist? Or maybe the best CEO of your own company.

When you deepen your strengths appreciation and strengths application, you will be able to swim faster and make the big leap into your aspirations.

Cruising With Strengths

Originally published on Gallup’s Strengths Coaches’ Playbook.



Rachael served as the operations manager for a family-owned bottled water company with over 80 employees. In her day job, she was responsible for a wide range of areas from personnel to procurement, as well as serving on the senior management team. At home, she was a busy mom of two and volunteered as president of a local parent group.

In our first strengths coaching session she admitted, “I’m overwhelmed and feel like I’m on a sinking ship.”

Rather than tell Rachael how to handle her stress with my Command strength, I gently asked her with my Individualization strength, “How could you grow stronger and work smarter with your top five strengths?”

For the next 30 minutes we had fun exploring her Signature Themes, and their potential:

  • Responsibility
  • Consistency
  • Relator
  • Discipline
  • Developer

Then Rachael had an “aha” moment — she recognized that she was overusing, or what I call speeding (80 to 120 mph) with, her Responsibility theme and underusing, or coasting (5 to 40 mph) with, her Relator theme. She was taking on too much psychological ownership at work and home, and emotionally, she was in moderate stages of burnout. She had been isolating herself from friends and couldn’t figure out how to relate authentically in a male-dominated workforce, even though her heart yearned to.

Using her Responsibility theme, she set a goal to hire an assistant who she could delegate more of the daily grind activities to. She also set a goal to practice saying “no” more assertively in her personal and professional life. Then Rachael revved up her Relator theme by making consistent time for girls’ night out, which she had been neglecting and desperately needed. She also nurtured her wellbeing by exercising and tasked herself with reading books on assertiveness and stress-coping skills.

Rachael was discovering that her Relator theme could be used as a tool to dive more deeply in her relationship with herself, not just with others.

After several coaching sessions, Rachael had renewed energy, perspective, and confidence. She created an employee-of-the-week bulletin board, an employee directory, and held a company picnic to help build genuine relationships. She became the strengths champion in team meetings, asking, “How have you used your strengths successfully this week?”

Company morale, the senior management team, and her family benefited from Rachael’s strengths-based coaching, because now she was cruising at 70 mph. With her strengths, it was full steam ahead for Rachael, as she continues to grow stronger and work smarter.

Here are three questions for you to ponder in coaching your clients:

  • Which talent themes can help you ask better questions to explore strengths?
  • When can you help clients turn their strengths inward and outward for success?
  • How could you better help clients understand over- and underusing strengths?

Transforming Talent

How do you take a 20 ton, 12 foot block of ice and transform it into an elaborate award winning work of art?

Just ask, Singapore Captain Ng See Yian who was gracious to allow me to interview him and learn how his five person team creates their magical snow sculptor called Love, Balance and Community.

Brent-OBannon-StrengthsFinder-Coaching-Blog-Transforming-Talent-2My wife and I got a blast of insight about transforming talent as we watched the 14 countries participating in the 23rd Annual International Snow Sculptor Championship in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Sculptor Rob Neyland said, “Snow is a living medium. It starts as water from the sky, and we just grasp it briefly, and then it’s water again. It’s a lot like life in that respect.”

Talent is a divine given genetic predisposition to think, feel, and act.

Just like snow sculpting teams only have 65 hours to work their magic before being evaluated on their performance we only have a short life time to maximize our talents.

Here are three tips to transform talent.

1. Start with a story.

Team Singapore used their mascot as a model for transforming their block of ice.

The story behind their mascot is that the head of a lion and the body of a fish surrounded by dolphins signifies how the world can communicate courageously, attaining peace by living in love and balance.

Donald Clifton, the father of strengths psychology created the Clifton Strengthsfinder assessment measuring 34 talent themes. Over 8 million people in 22 languages have taken this test and now Gallup strengths evangelist want to up the ante to a billion takers.

Clifton also had a vision of winning the Nobel Peace Prize uniting the world with a positive language of talents and strengths.

What would the world, your family, your church, your work look like if everyone started with the story of strengths?

To coach your clients to transform their talents into strengths, ask them to “describe a story when they were at their best.”

By starting with a personal story they have a model for talent and success.



2. Strengthen with tools.

The Snow Sculpture Championship is not allowed to use power tools and can only use hand tools such as chisels, saws, and vegetable peelers. Each sculptor on the team transforms the ice through their skills and precision from years of practice.

Talent is also transformed into strength when we gain knowledge and create a strength based mindset. Honing a positive growth mindset instead of a negative fixed mindset allows character to develop and fuels our talents.

As the book, Outliers describes, true genius is achieved with at least 10,000 hours of repetitive practice.

Coaching, mentoring, masterminding, reading, training, are a few tools used for transforming talents into strengths in everyday life.

3. Succeed with a team.

It’s true “All of us is smarter and stronger than one of us.”

To transform talents to an elaborate work of artful strengths takes the interdependence of strengths from an entire team. Each person has their role and genius that turns a block of ice into love, balance, and community.

No one person has all the strengths needed to create a masterful work of art. It truly takes not only the power of two but the genius of five team members to transform a block of ice into am inspiring award winning masterpiece.

How could your teams capitalize on each others strengths better for success?

Remember to transform talent into strength like the Singapore team transformed ice into a beautiful snow sculpture and then the world will see more love, balance and community.

What Are Your Unrealized Strengths?


What does the Realise2* measure? The Realise2 strengths assessment measures 60 different strengths in comparison to 34 strengths by StrengthsFinder 2.0, and 24 character strengths by the VIA. The United Kingdom based Realise2 assessment helps you to marshal your realized strengths, moderate your learned behaviors, minimize your weaknesses and to maximize your unrealized strengths.

*Note that the spelling for Realise2 is based from the United Kingdom.


What are the Realise2 model definitions?

1. Realized Strengths – Are those strengths that you perform well in, feel energized by and are currently using in your life and roles.

2. Learned Behaviors – Are those strengths that you perform well (usually from gaining knowledge, skills, and practice over time) though you are not particularly energized when using them.

3. Weaknesses – Are those strengths that you do not perform well and are not energized by. No matter how much knowledge, skill and practice you remain average or below average in these strengths.

4. Unrealized Strengths – Are dormant strengths that you perform well, feel energized by however are not being fully utilized and need more knowledge, skill, and practice to maximize.


View Brent’s Sample Realise2 Report


If you want to fully realize your potential through the strengths lens then I highly recommend that you measure your strengths through all available strengths based assessment tools. Enjoy exploring the Realise2 at with the founder Alex Linley and read his many positive psychology and strengths based books.

How Do You Stand Out?

What is StandOut? TMBC created an assessment that pin points your lead and secondary strength roles and combined role that is your comparative advantage to StandOut at work.

This strengths based assessment is different from the VIA or StrengthsFinder 2.0 in that it measures what we do at work versus who we are at work.

How do you stand out

The 9 strength roles measured by StandOut are:

1. Advisor
2. Connector
3. Creator
4. Equalizer
5. Influencer
6. Pioneer
7. Provider
8. Stimulator
9. Teacher

Not only does the StandOut report give you the definition of each strength role, how you are most powerful, phrases to describe yourself, how to make an immediate impact, how to take your performance to the next level but what to watch out for with your strength roles.

The report will describe your ideal career, how to win as a leader, how to win as a manager, how to win in sales, and how to win in client service.

By the way I’d love to show you how to build your leadership brand, write a better resume or about page on your web site, promote yourself in a big interview or discover a new niche from your comparative advantage revealed in your StandOut report.

For an example view Brent’s StandOut Report.

If you’re eager for strengths application with your VIA, StrengthsFinder 2.0, and StandOut results to grow stronger, work smarter, and live richer in your life and work then download your application for the 2013 – January 14th 7 Week Virtual Strengths Mastermind. Only 7 seats left!

P.S. Defining Moment Opportunity

Can you feel and see yourself as a passionate strengths advocate?
Do you aspire to connect with cutting edge strengths experts?
Will you mobilize your strengths serving the world?

If that’s you then you’ll love to join my brand new Strengths Ambassador Inner Circle and sign up for my FREE kick-off call interviewing Curt Lievsfeld, Sr. Gallup Consultant, co-author of Living Your Strengths on January 7th 9-10:30 AM (CST).

This is a live call and will NOT be recorded.

If you enjoyed the blog today please share your comments and forward to your world.

What Character Strengths Do You See Around You?

What is the VIA Institute? The The VIA® Institute on Character was established as a non-profit organization in 2001. Their mission is to advance both the science and the practice of character. They aim to fill the world with greater virtue by offering the VIA Survey, free of charge, across the globe. The VIA Survey has been taken by over 1.3 million people in 193 countries and 17 languages.

What is the VIA model? There are 6 virtues and 24 total character strengths that fall within each virtue category.

1. Wisdom and Knowledge – Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and
use of knowledge

2. Courage – Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external or internal

3. Humanity – Interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others

4. Justice – Civic strengths that underlie healthy community life

5. Temperance – Strengths that protect against excess

6. Transcendence – Strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning

What are the 24 VIA Character Strengths?

Click here for the complete list of 24 VIA Character Strengths

The Best Leaders Break All the Rules: Leaders, Teams, and Strengths Based Coaching

Nearly a decade after the Strengths Finder assessment took the management world by storm in the Gallup hit, Now, Discover Your Strengths, strengths based development is no longer confined to the business world.  YES, the youth sports education provider most famously linked to the Major League Soccer Clinic Program, swears by its strengths based coaching program; Ohio State University’s Center for Student Leadership offers student leaders a free 10-week course on strengths based coaching; strengths based practices are a staple in the social work community; and even activists and organizers employ strengths based models to improve political participation.

All over the world, teams of every shape and size are adopting strengths based coaching strategies to train their leaders and achieve their goals.

Strengths based coaching takes its cues from positive psychology, often referred to as “the science of happiness.”  At its most basic, positive psychology is predicated on the theory that the happier a person is, the more able, energized, and engaged he or she is, too.  Martin E.P. Seligman began carving out what would become positive psychology in 1998 when he made the topic the object of his tenure study at the University of Pennsylvania, though Dr. Donald E. Clifton had already been researching strengths based psychology—a parallel theme—for several decades.

The next year, Gallup released First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham, the preface to the smash strengths hit, Now, Discover Your Strengths, introducing the business world to the notion of a strengths based development.  Soon thereafter, companies began to do away with the deficiency-based approach to recruitment, management, and performance review, replacing it with a model devoted to praise and engagement.  Positive psychology and the strengths revolution reflect the idea of “appreciative inquiry,” which aims to find the best in people in order to maximize a system’s positive potential.

Today, strengths based coaching is becoming known as a surefire way to groom better leaders, fortify teams, and close the gap between high and low performing employees.  And it all comes down to one main question, highlighted in First, Break All the Rules:  “Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?”  According to five decades of Gallup research, employee engagement is the key to high productivity and low turnover.  But, when an organization is deficiency based, or focused on improving weaknesses, instead of strengths based, employee engagement hovers dismally around 10%.  Turn the focus onto employee strengths and that number jumps to nearly 75%.

So, how can a company utilize strengths based coaching to improve leadership and boost team performance?  It all starts with individual strengths assessments.  Have your organization’s leaders take the Strengths Finder assessment or the VIA Survey to identify their top talents–the Gallup book Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie is the perfect companion to this assessment, as it outlines how a leader should invest in his or her strengths in order to be more effective and responsive with his or her followers.  After a leader assesses his or her own strength, he or she should guide their team members through the same process.

Studies show that leaders and managers who balance their team’s talents, offsetting one person’s weakness with another’s strength, go eight times further than leaders and managers who focus on weaknesses alone.

Thus, the aim of strengths based coaching is not to turn a blind eye to one’s weaknesses, but to shine a light on one’s deficiencies in order to find someone else who can fill the gap.  Look at this way—when your goal is to improve a weakness, you may enjoy nominal success but you can only ever expect to be average.  On the other hand, if your goal is to build upon a strength, you have unlimited growth potential.  Why, then, would you ever choose to focus on a weakness?  A wise leader, therefore, will seek to assemble a colorful group of people capable of balancing each other’s talents so that each person can fully blossom and perform at his or her peak.

The strengths revolution should come as good news to leaders everywhere.  Before First, Break All the Rules, leaders were expected to be and do it all.  Now, thanks to visionaries like Marcus Buckingham and Donald E. Clifton, leaders are only expected to be themselves—and more of themselves–every day.  The leader who knows their own strengths and recognizes the strengths of the individuals around them is someone people want to follow because they create an environment of clarity and value that is safe for taking risks.