Leveraging Your Child’s Strengths for the Future
by Susan Neuhalfen
With the continually rising cost of college, parents have to be weary of the impending investment. Is my child going to the right type of school? Is her major right for her? Will his current study habits work in college? What will help my student prepare for success both inside and outside of the classroom?
What if there was a way to help students recognize their strengths ahead of time in order to improve a student’s overall college or, for that matter, any school or work experience?
Former Denton County Clerk Cindy Mitchell is the CEO of Strategic Solutions HQ as well as a certified StrengthsFinder coach. The Clifton StrengthsFinder tool is powered by the Gallup Organization and helps individuals, groups and leaders recognize and leverage their strengths to help them focus on what they do best.
“It’s better for everyone to focus their time, money, energy and effort on what we call their superpowers,” said Mitchell. “People are generally happier when they are doing what they love to do. Instead of mounting frustration over how to overcome weaknesses, why not focus on what they do well?”
StrengthsFinder is a 45 minute test that is unlike any other. Through a series of questions, each of which has to be answered within 20 seconds, test takers find out their strengths which, in turn, helps them to find out where to focus their talents.
Armed with this knowledge there are a number of advantages a student may have going into college such as what classes to choose, what majors to consider, how best to study and even how to better understand friendships and relationships.
Mitchell has plenty of experience not only with business clients but students as well. One of her students is a talented equestrian rider. StrengthsFinder found that she was already competitive but instead of focusing on just winning and losing, they helped her focus on measurable goals when it came to competition so that she was as much in competition with herself as anyone. This helped her equestrian coach in guiding her at competitions and it helped her to stay less stressed once she understood where her focus needed to be. She placed second in the AQHA World Championship last year as well as the top 10 for the last three years.
After getting an equestrian scholarship to college, she worked with Mitchell on how to make the transition to higher education. Mitchell also worked with her on how her strengths affected her friendships and how she struggled with relationships. Once she understood the “basements” and “balconies” of her strength, she was better able to understand how to leverage her strengths for the best outcome.
Basements and balconies are another way to state the good and bad side of something. For example, if a person’s strength is being analytical, he or she is comfortable with numbers and very logical, however that same person may be considered rude, short and never satisfied which doesn’t sit well with some. Every strength has basements and balconies attached to it.
Another student that Mitchell worked with had a top strength of Input. A person with this strength has an excellent memory and mind for detail. Mitchell already knew him to be a history buff and an avid reader so most of his analysis came as no surprise.
After studying pre-law, he chose an engineering and computer science major. Mitchell worked with him on his study habits and gave him permission to use history and context to study. This made the simple act of studying more meaningful to him which gave him a deeper understanding of the subject.
When it comes to learning, some learn better by actually teaching so for those who do, Mitchell says to seek out opportunities to present to others. For others, quiet reflection is the only way to comprehend information. For this student, Mitchell recommended finding a quiet place and making time to study that way.
Using this strength-based development tool, students may use StrengthsFinder to choose classes that they are more aligned with and, ultimately, careers that make sense for their superpowers.
“With the exception of those suffering an extreme life change at some point, the test doesn’t change much after the age of 15,” explains Mitchell. “Many parents have told me that they wish they had had access to a tool like this when they were younger.”
An extreme life change is a life-altering change such as a death of a parent or spouse or, in some cases, a divorce situation for a child.
StrengthsFinder even offers something called StrengthsExplorer for kids 10-14 years with fewer questions and fewer strengths analyzed. This will help parents with encouraging their children in a positive manner as well as understanding their strengths and how to relate to them. It actually gives the child his or her top 3 strengths and it gives action items to the adults working with them as well as action items for the youngsters.
“When my son was younger I learned not to ASK him to clean his room,” said Mitchell. “I had to TELL him to clean his room, but in a way that related to him. Because of his personality and how his strengths play out asking him to do anything he didn’t want to do wouldn’t work. It helped me to stop getting frustrated and speak his language.”
Cindy Mitchell is available as a StrengthsFinder Coach for students, parents, leaders and employees. She travels to homes and businesses, unlocking superpowers for people of all ages.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 469-426-7009.
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