I’m a father of two—a daughter and a son—and it amazes me how their personalities are so different. Tara early in childhood seemed to enjoy spontaneity and loathed routine. She disliked structure and would rather go with the flow. Her #1 talent theme is Adaptability. My son, Trent seemed to be attracted to the best brands in clothes, sports equipment, and cars. He would rather spend time teaching tennis to the great tennis players polishing their game to become elite. He would rather pay top dollar for the best brand of baby gear for his newborn, because he’s motivated toward quality and excellence. His #1 talent theme is Maximizer.

Psychologists say that about fifty percent of our personality is genetic, or what we’re born with. The other fifty is nurture, what can be attributed to the environmental influence of the world around us as well as the people and caregivers in our lives.

There’s no doubt that, when we are born, we possess a genetic “code” for certain abilities. These talents are in our blood, our brains, and our genes. However, a strength is not limited to hardwiring. Over time, we acquire knowledge, information picked up from our environment and the people in it. Next, we turn this knowledge into skills. The three components of any strength are talent, knowledge, and skills.

So, what if you wanted to boost your strength in any one area? My advice is to focus on any one of the three—talents, knowledge, or skills. Take knowledge, for instance. There are four levels of acquiring knowledge—learning, applying, teaching, and relearning.

First, we learn new information, whereupon we are called to do something about it by applying the information in some way.

After that, teaching is the best way to deepen our understanding of new information. Finally, in order to avoid growing stagnant, we must continue to seek new knowledge, often through relearning what we thought we already knew. And what’s exciting is that we never really stop learning—there is always new information to process or knowledge that we can gain from deepening our understanding of “old” info.

Individualization is my #2 talent in CliftonStrengths.

Individualization is the act of being intrigued with the unique qualities of people. It’s a relationship strength, the ability to look for one-of-a-kind stories. A person with Individualization is a keen observer of other people’s strengths. They have the ability to personalize information, or how they will work with you.

In my case, I was an only child and therefore had to seek opportunities to connect. For the first part of my life, I grew up in a metropolitan environment. In our diverse neighborhood, there were all kinds of people to meet and experiences to be had. It’s where I developed a taste for acquiring knowledge about different cultures, different mindsets, and different ways of thinking.

I spent the second part of my adolescence living in the country, in a small town in East Texas. I went to a little school called Grand Saline and was able to experience the country life.

When I talk to people, I love to ask questions—what is your background, what are your dreams, what are your goals? I love to discover each person’s one-of-a-kind story. Each of you reading this blog has your own story. Some of you are motivated to apply this to your work. You may want to use this knowledge to help your children, or to transform your sense of personal satisfaction.

For me, with Individualization in my hard wiring, I’m not only sensitive to people’s strengths, but also their emotional ups and downs, body language, and moods. I pick up on the little things that make up a person’s personality.

When I’m talking, coaching, or even speaking to a large audience, I have an ability to personalize whatever I’m sharing with the people in front of me.

In college I studied psychology, sociology, and communications. In grad school I studied counseling, where I deepened my knowledge and understanding of people, their personalities, and how to help people grow, work, and live. For the last ten years I’ve been learning professional coaching. I’ve taken courses on coaching, hired a mentor coach, put myself through the ICF (International Coach Federation) certification process, and teach Strengths-Based Coaching. As I write this, I realize I’ve been Individualizing for twenty years, each day improving my talent, knowledge, and skills.

What knowledge, skills, or practice do you want to invest in to turn your talent into world class strength?

2 replies
  1. Kimberly Talmey
    Kimberly Talmey says:

    Thank you for this insight. Even though this strength isnt high on my first five it speaks so strongly to me and about me! I need to develop this more.


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