IGNITE YOUR SUPERPOWERS

An Applied StrengthsFinder Case Study

By Marsha Berkson

Where would we be without our superpowers?

I’m not referring to supernatural abilities like invisibility, telepathy and flight, but rather the hidden superpowers that define who we are. These are the talents and skills that create the most positive difference in your life and impact the way you interact with others around you.

Too often, we aren’t aware of the aspects of our personality that are unique and special. We think of our strengths as ordinary. But they are actually superpowers that can be used with purpose to enrich all aspects of our life, including our personal relationships, career, community impact, and so much more.

It’s not unusual for someone to discount their exceptional strengths because these are the skills or talents that come so easily to them. That’s where I can be of service. As an Organizational Development Specialist and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, I help people uncover and ignite their superpowers so they can be used to the fullest. Whether you are just starting out, looking to propel your career forward or considering a major life transition, getting clarity about your strengths can make all the difference in your career and life.

One of my great pleasures is facilitating conversations about strengths with the men and women in the JOFEE (Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming and Environmental Education) Fellowship Program. These individuals, who are at the beginning of their careers, participate in a one-year fellowship and certification program funded by Hazon, a nonprofit focused on strengthening American Jewish life through engagements with the outdoors, food, farming and the environment (https://hazon.org/jofee/jofee-fellowship/). JOFEE Fellows work at host institutions and receive immersive training seminars led by JOFEE educators and other professionals.

In designing the JOFEE Fellowship Program, Director Yoshi Silverstein was searching for a leadership development tool rooted in positive psychology. He found this in the Clifton Strengths Assessment and engaged me in 2016 to facilitate a full-day workshop for his first cohort of students. He’s so thrilled with its impact on the Fellows that he’s invited me back every year since then to work with the newest cohort.

“With her expansive knowledge of the Clifton Strengths Assessment tool and her strong but nurturing presence, Marsha guides our Fellows through the process and exploration,” said Yoshi. “Marsha’s preparation is at the highest level. She knows the model inside and out, interjecting hard data and easily responding to questions and comments. Marsha’s creative and thought-provoking props keep the Fellows engaged throughout the full-day workshop.”

“Sessions become emotional at times, with individuals feeling a sense of relief after realizing why they behave and feel differently than other people, excited to have language for things they knew were true, and inspired to apply their unique talents,” explained Yoshi.

Igniting Danielle’s Superpowers

Danielle Smith was a member of the first JOFEE Fellowship cohort. Her host institution, Eden Village Camp, provides children with a fun summer experience while helping them gain technical skills in outdoor living and grounding them in social responsibility. This position enabled Danielle to draw on her undergraduate education in environmental studies, community development experience from semesters abroad in Mexico and India, and passion for Judaism.

The Clifton Strengths Assessment revealed Danielle’s Top 5 Strengths are: Empathy (sensing the emotions of others), Positivity (seeing the positive in every situation), Communication (being a natural storyteller), Developer (cultivating the potential of others) and Includer (welcoming people into the group).

“I wasn’t surprised to find that 4 out of 5 of my Strengths were relationship-based,” said Danielle. “I’m keenly aware of my sensitivity to others’ feelings and needs. And when I have an important decision to make, I need to talk it through with at least five people.”

The Strengths Assessment helped Danielle understand why she wasn’t completely satisfied with her work in outdoor education. She loved being with the kids but often felt let down when the short-term camp program ended. Danielle realized that she craved more time with the children and the opportunity to form deep relationships with them. The Strengths workshop led Danielle to explore a path forward that was different from anything she had ever considered. “What if I become a teacher?” Danielle wondered.

Danielle called me for a 1:1 session after the workshop and asked my thoughts about her moving in this direction. I helped her see how her passion for cultivating the potential of others aligned with a career as a full-time classroom teacher.

In 2018, Danielle received a Master’s degree in Elementary Education from Lesley University, and is now teaching fourth graders at a Jewish Day School in Massachusetts.

Igniting Anika’s Superpowers

Anika Rice currently serves as a Senior Farm Educator with Urban Adamah, an experiential farm in Berkeley, CA, and is a member of the third JOFEE Fellowship cohort.

When Anika first heard about the Strengths Assessment, she was skeptical. “I thought it would be just another personality test,” said Anika. “I was curious because I had been impressed by the other professional development programs from JOFEE so I was interested in learning more.”

“For me, Marsha’s workshop was the highlight of our JOFEE programming, “said Anika. “I was awed by her ability to connect Strengths with life experiences. Things fell into place in a new way.”

“My Top 5 Strengths are:

Individualization – “Even when I’m working with a group, I customize the information and experience for each participant”

Ideation – “Ideas fascinate me”

Input – “I’m naturally inquisitive”

Deliberation – “I think things through and have a calm presence”

Intellection – “I take in all the variables; I’m a deep thinker”

While Anika knew these things about herself, she didn’t see them as Strengths. “My key learning from Marsha’s workshop is my capacity to reflect on myself – personally and professionally, “said Anika. “I now realize that not everybody does what I do.”

Prior to the workshop, Anika had been toying with the idea of applying to a PhD program. The findings from the Strengths Assessment helped affirm that an immersive research program that requires Anika to take in lots of information, analyze data and explore new ideas and complex problems was the right path forward.

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There is pressure in the business world as well as in society-at-large to travel the course that has led others to be successful. But it is more important to focus on your strengths and use your superpowers to accomplish your goals. Understanding who you are and where your talents lie will give you a true advantage over others. And focusing on what you love doing allows you to contribute at your highest level.

I can help you identify your superpowers and ignite new energy and excitement into your life. Contact me today to schedule a free 30-minute consultation.

619-890-7014 | marsha.berkson@gmail.com