What Significance Really, Truly Means


What Is the SIGNIFICANCE Theme

Those with the Strength of Significance are the success-driven, legacy-minded people in our lives whose focus is singular: to have a maximum impact.  They are capable, outward facing achievers who like for their efforts to add-up to something substantial, important, and noteworthy.  And, they proudly take credit where credit is due.  What this means is that, while, to a degree, they are internally motivated and naturally driven, they do have a core need to be recognized, acknowledged, and seen as significant.  This is the fuel that brings out their best.  Significance is deeply rooted in the need to make a difference.  People with this Strength remind us that living life to the fullest requires sacrifice as well as authenticity.  They teach us about the importance of acknowledging and recognizing others’ efforts, hard work, and strengths.  In their presence we may feel connected to a vision that transcends this moment and taps into a legacy.

Why Should We Care

People with Significance are here to leave their mark.  This means that they instinctually take things to the next level and try to make everything that they do count.  Because of this, they can rally others behind their vision and coordinate individuals, teams, and groups to create epic outcomes.  Those with this Strength want their work and themselves to be noticed, appreciated, and remembered.  The drive to ‘go big or go home’ is present in virtually everything that they do.  And, they are willing to do just about anything to achieve their goals and to have a lasting impact on this world.  They are wired to lead by example and to inspire by doing, as opposed to explaining, teaching, or talking.  They are doers.  Significance people are committed to greatness in such a way that when they win, we all win.  They encourage us to rise up and do big things.

Ten Things to Know About People with SIGNIFICANCE

1. Independence. Autonomy is key for people with this Strength—the ability to make decisions, take action, and create change without having to filter through various other channels is central to their way of doing things, having an impact, and thriving.

2. Workaholism. For them, work and life might not be separate ideas.  In fact, in their ideal world, work and life might be one and the same, and the two would exist in tandem to build mutual momentum and produce dynamic results.

3. Demands. People with this Strength can come across as unusually demanding at times.  While it can run some the wrong way, it is also a great source of their productivity.  They may put the project or the goal above all else.  This quality makes them great allocators of responsibility and managers of people and resources.

4. Personal Affirmation. Developing an affirmations practice can be extremely life giving for them, as it fuels and fills their need for consistent validation and encourages visibility.  The ability to see and honor themselves as ‘good enough’ already is the art that they are always learning, and positive self-talk can really help in the process.

5. Avoiding. Folks with this Strength may have an overdeveloped fear of failure.  This means that they might avoid taking even small risks in favor of sure shots—even if the reward is peanuts in comparison.  For them, certainty is king.  It is the currency on which they trade their name and reputation.

6. Titles. Character and social standing are very important to them and so is external validation—signifiers like job titles, certificates, awards, and degrees are extremely meaningful.  Anything that asserts, proves, declares, or states their credibility, or that of others, will generally be welcomed, understood, and respected by folks with this Strength.

7. Expectations. The expectations of others can be extremely motivating for them.  They are fueled by the notion of proving themselves and gaining credibility.  They may even superimpose, heighten, or perceive expectations that are not really there, which can make it appear as if they are fishing for complements, overly dramatic, or boasting once a goal has been met.

8. Mediocrity. Their aim is exceptionality—not good, not better, but best.  Anything else, even second place, may feel like an utter and embarrassing loss to them.  It can be staggering on the one hand and motivating on the other—either way, they may take some time to process and come to terms with any real or perceived loss, mistake, or failure.

9. Proof. They love experts and people who can back up their knowledge not just with words but with certificates and credentials.  Peer reviewed journals, for example, are far more interesting to them than internet rabbit-holes and the musings of others.  They may be perpetually taking courses, earning certificates, and finding ways of leveling up.

10. Love. Showing and telling are likely to be important when it comes to their closest relationships.  This means, external conventions such as marriage and social media statuses are meaningful to them—as they are things that others can see.  At the same time, in one-on-one scenarios, they will be receptive to affirmations of love as well as praise.  The more the merrier 😉

Zach_Headshot_Edits (2 of 23)

Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at StrengthsLife.com

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.

What Competition Really Means


What Is the COMPETITION Theme

Those with the strength of Competition are the ones in our lives who are instinctually driven to be the best, to be prepared, and to win.  They are improvement-minded and progress-oriented people who constantly track their own performance and compare it against others.  Evaluation and measurement are crucial sources of life-energy to them.  Where comparison is ‘the thief of joy’ for some, for those with Competition it is fuel, a way of being, which draws out their very best.  They are motivated by external and objective forms of assessment: scores, grades, rankings, and ratings.  For them, there is an excitement in facing-off that gets them operating at peak levels.  Knowing that someone wants what they want enlivens them, brightens their senses and seems to sharpen their skills.  They love to be put to the test and to prove what they can do.  What this means is that they are always tracking and preparing, always thinking and strategizing, always visualizing and evaluating for when they are actually competing.  This is a way of saying that people with the Strength of Competition are always ‘on’, alert, and aware.  They remind us that we cannot evaluate or assess what we cannot measure.  And, that matters because that which we measure we can improve upon.  They give us a concrete system for growth and hold the world to a high standard.

Why Should We Care

Competition, while perceived generally as an action-strength, is really a mental one—a way of thinking, being, and seeing.  It is primarily a worldview and only secondarily a way of doing.  People with this strength are very capable of working well with others, especially in leadership roles and on teams.  In collaboration, they are skilled at identifying exactly what is at stake so that folks have something tangible to rally around.  For this reason, they naturally seem to know what motivates individuals and groups.  They are also intuitive, deft evaluators of human performance and talent—they usually have a lot of heart.  People with this strength are constantly asking, “How am I doing?”  They are always keeping track and have a deep need to know how they compare and where they rank relative to the rest.  This matters because they have huge radar screens and seem to be aware of everyone else’s progress as well, which makes them excellent leaders, motivators, and influencers.  They can be incredibly inspiring and push others to be their best and to perform at the height of their capabilities.  People with the strength of Competition push us to dig deep, find our true potential, and go for it.  They inspire us along the way and remind us that we all do better when we all do better.

Ten Things to Know About People with COMPETITION

1. Everything. It is likely that they will compare their performance to others in every area of life—even if this is done so quietly or in the privacy of their own mind.  This means that they may inject a surprisingly competitive element into otherwise leisurely activities like clearing their plate at dinner, three-legged races at birthday parties, or friendly board games.  Others may remark on their “intensity’ in these situations.

2. Losing. This can be a difficult and uncomfortable topic for them.  If not properly channeled, it can feel like a deep, even physical wounding.  The art for them is to digest any loss by framing it as an opportunity to learn and identify areas for improvement.

3. Celebrating. Taking time to savor the victory can be the best part for them.  They may relive wins in their minds over and over—not out of arrogance, instead as a way of honoring the part of themselves that was fully expressed in those moments.

4. Letting You Win. It is extremely unlikely that they would ever let someone win—adult or child—in a game or competition, regardless of how casual the setting or trivial it may seem.  Winning is life for them.

5. Depression. People with this strength need to feel pushed on a regular basis.  Going too long without a worthy challenge can actually be internalized in a way that looks and feels like depression.  They can lose touch with the life-giving core elements of themselves, which are activated in competition.

6. Connection. They will not settle for simply what comes along when it comes to their deep relationships—for them, it’s quality over quantity.  And, because they goal-oriented or finishline-minded, the idea of hanging-out and doing nothing generally does not appeal to them.

7. Analytics. In the absence of an external or formal system of measurement, they may invent their own ways of tracking progress.  This could be with a number system, tally, or a spreadsheet.  Don’t be surprised if you find them evaluating almost everything and look for ways of improving upon what they find.

8. Fun. Doing things ‘for the fun of it’ likely doesn’t appeal to them.  In fact, if probably doesn’t make any sense to them—their response being something akin to “Why bother?”  They always play to win, in everything.  Hard, grueling work or grinding out a project on a tight deadline might be what fun feels like to them.

9. Ties. People with competition have a need for definite outcomes, and ties will likely feel like some sort of limbo where an actual decision hasn’t been and won’t ever be made.  In that way, a tie may be worse than a loss for them.

10. Love. Finding someone who challenges them and pushes them to be the best is highly attractive to them.  They generally look for others who, too, have a drive that differentiates them from the pack.  Ambition magnetic for them.

Zach_Headshot_Edits (2 of 23)


Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at StrengthsLife.com

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.

What Communication Is Really All About



Those with the strength of Communication are the naturally engaging people in our lives who can fluently express the intricacies of life and the world.  Perhaps it’s through words—a traditional speech, a presentation, or casual conversation.  Maybe it’s through a painting or a poem.  Or, it might even be through movement and body language.  Whatever the case, they make the complicated, clear; the invisible, visible; and the unsaid, sayable.  They have the gift of being able to shed light on a given topic so that it is more fully expressed, more correctly understood, and more acutely felt.  People with Communication are always striving to externalize their own inner-world or that of others—whether that be with language, art, fashion, music, writing, social media presence, home or elsewhere.  For them, it’s not about simply getting the point across; it’s about being seen and felt authentically.  They intuitively identify the essence of things—the true core—and then bring it to the surface in a way that others can grasp and follow.  Think: The right words at the right time and in the right order.  And, they are generally willing to labor in order to embody their point truly and fully.  They may spend hours re-working a few sentences or take extra care in choosing the perfect outfit for an occasion.  It is essential to them to cultivate an outward expression that is accurate to who they are, how they think, and what they are feeling at that particular point in time.  Pure expression is central to their world view and to have their uniqueness seen, heard, and felt by others is key.  They remind us that we are each inimitable and that our individual voices and experiences matter, and we all win when we are all seen.

Why Should We Care

Because they are skilled at defining, refining, and expressing their own perception and viewpoint, they can generally help others do the same—this includes helping an entire organization find its voice or define its brand.  People with Communication are the ones who can give clarity to those faced with complex situations and issues.  Others might notice and comment on their intelligence, creativity, or clarity in addition to their overall authenticity, confidence, and originality.  People with this strength can process and synthesize great amounts of information—sorting out the nuances and complexities when necessary, or honing in on the broad strokes, generalities, and overlap of big ideas.  They help us whittle down what is necessary, so that there are no ‘extra parts’ when it comes to communicating a point.  In their presence we often feel uplifted and more clearheaded, they help us articulate parts of ourselves, our lives, and the world when things feel confusing, endarkened, or overwhelming.  In that way, Communication people shed light on the truths within us and help wake us up to new dimensions of ourselves.

Ten Things to Know About People with COMMUNICATION

1. Refining. While they are expressive, they are also concise.  People with the strength of Communication are always looking for better, more refined ways of bringing their ideas and projects to light.  Always improving is often a completely natural way of life for them.

2. Aliveness. Living in their fullest expression means marching to their own drummer.  They are often self-assured, competent, and somewhat eccentric.  They also have a tendency to explain or share in words spontaneously what they are thinking, feeling, or doing in a given moment.

3. Claustrophobia. Being asked or demanded to ‘tone it down’ is likely to be insulting to them.  It’s like asking them to hide who they are, be someone else, or make themselves small.  It can be hurtful, even damaging.

4. Figurative Language. They know that speaking directly on a topic may not always work.  So, they usually have a knack for reinventing ideas and descriptions through analogies and metaphor.  Don’t be surprised if they perpetually illuminate one idea by comparing it to another.

5. Extrovert/Introvert. The emphasis is on being who they are and for some that means telling the world.  For others, it means waking up and being comfortable in their own skin, in their own local circles.  Whatever the case, people with Communication can not be lumped, generally, into a introvert or extrovert camps.

6. Always ON. They are constantly looking for newer and better ways of saying things and expressing things.  Refining and revisiting over and over again.

7. Improv vs. preparation. The key for them is finding the clearest and truest way to express ideas, feelings, and thoughts.  For some, this means careful preparation and drafting; for others, this means relaxing and tapping into their creative spontaneity (aka shooting from the hip).  One way is not better or worse than the other.

8. Words Matter. Finding the perfect way to deliver a message or make a point can be a sacred act for them—they know how powerful it can be and what an impact it can make.  For that reason, they may be hyper-sensitive to instances when others may use persuasive power to manipulate or scam others.

9. Precise and Articulate. Complex but not complicated may be a perfect motto for them, as they do not shy away from multifaceted, byzantine concepts.  In fact, they have a tendency to lean toward them, enjoying the challenge of finding the best and most precise way of expressing and sharing them.

10. Love. They will likely feel and experience love from others who support them in their ever-deepening pursuit of self-expression.  It is, in fact, a need.  Being visible is important to them and having their voice heard is essential, so spaciousness and unconditional acceptance is the foundation of their deepest connections.

Zach_Headshot_Edits (2 of 23)

Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at StrengthsLife.com

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.

What Having Focus Really Means


What Is the FOCUS Them

Those with Focus are the high output people in our lives who can readily concentrate for long periods of time with tremendous accuracy and retention.  Being highly structured in their thinking and approach to things, they are able to aim their attention in one direction for hours and hours.  Think of a magnifying glass that channels sunlight into a single, burning point; that is the mind of Focus when set to a specific task.  They naturally stay on track, drill down, and take intentional action to complete every undertaking.  Their ability to dial down external noise and distractions and truly hone in on the task at hand makes them incredibly productive and resourceful.  They may even lose themselves completely in a task, looking dazed afterward.  Folks with Focus are like forces of nature once they get moving and there is an “all in” quality to their thinking.  They remind us about presence.  They remind us that, even as the world fills with distractions, there is still only this moment—the here and now—and that is only place and time where things are achieved.  They show us how to dive in.

Why Should We Care

The life-force of this strength is rooted in vision, trailblazing, and stick-to-itiveness.  People with Focus are efficient, goal centered, and can clearly define where they are heading and why.  They have amazing follow through and can be relied upon to assess the scene, set the course, and take effective action that addresses the situation, concern, or demand.  Most of all, those with this strength have stamina when it comes to getting things done.  That said, they do not do busy work nor do they engage in pursuits with a “we-will-figure-it-out-as-we-go” strategy—they need a plan or a strategy to get going.  Because they are able to work in epic stints, others are freed up to do what they do best, which is especially valuable when it comes to teams and group work.  In that way, people with Focus are amazing at prioritizing and are usually good at navigating their own mental architecture.  Perhaps one of the greatest aspects of this strength is grit, folks generally embody a level of perseverance and determination that others admire and, at times, are intimidated by.  They teach us how to make a plan, push forward through slumps, and to keep going to the end.

Ten Things to Know About People with FOCUS

1. Motivation. Folks with Focus need to have a clear objective or purpose, in the absence of one they can feel aimless, weary, depressed, and even hopeless.

2. Intensity. They can be really enthusiastic and fired up about projects, plans, and whatever is on their slate—especially when they’ve mapped out a game plan.  Don’t be surprised if they suddenly spring into action and become seemingly unstoppable.

3. Joys. Their powers of concentration extend into all areas of their lives.  They are generally fond of activities that they can get lost in or that require a certain level of precision and attention—like building scale models, solving puzzles, researching, playing music, or developing a specific skill.

4. Impatience. They may be very adamant about staying the course, this is because of their intuitive vision and strategic ability to know the next steps and how the pieces all connect.  They will likely be irritated with any setbacks, pushback, or added challenges.

5. Solo. Because they are able to tune out the world and focus for hours, they are able to spend long periods of time alone.  In fact, they might not even notice as people come and go.

6. Time. The way that they experience time might be different from the rest of us.  Open-ended events in their lives might be an overwhelming purgatory for them.  While tight deadlines might actually light them up.  They prefer to know the plan in advance as well as the time frame.

7. Self-Care. They may get so involved in their work or pursuits that they forget to do the basics, like sleep, eat, stretch, and drink water.  They may also be prone to taking short cuts in these areas too, like using caffeine in lieu of sleep or eating fast food on the go.

8. Blinders. They might get so firmly set on a path that they cannot see that the dynamic has changed or the elements have shifted.  Generally, it’s okay to check-in with them and bring new information to their awareness.

9. Relaxing. Learning how to slow down and enjoy an unstructured day might not come naturally.  Developing ways of relaxing can be an art for them and they may prefer to do so with some structure or with a goal in mind—like, a one-hour yoga class, or developing a specific set of skills.  They may also be completists, preferring to enjoy things in series or whole (i.e. reading all the books of a given author or owning all the music of a certain artist).

10. Love. People with Focus are likely drawn to high-achieving people who can operate at their level.  The idea of settling down does not frighten them, but they like to know that their vision will not be coopted or interrupted.  They like to know the plan and stick to it.  Autonomy is key to their sense of self and they will likely admire the independent qualities of others.Zach_Headshot_Edits (4 of 23)

Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at StrengthsLife.com

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.

The Truth About Self-Assurance


What Is the SELF-ASSURANCE Theme

Those with Self-Assurance are the people in our lives who have an innate and enduring awareness of who they are and what they are capable of achieving.  It does not mean that know everything or that their lives are cake-walks; instead it means that they are comfortable piloting their own lives, making decisions, taking action, and owning the responsibilities as well as the outcome.  In a phrase: They are confident in their own skin.  They are not trying to be or please anyone else.  They see themselves clearly and, importantly, they can deliver results that accurately and objectively reflect their self-perception.  That is to say that they are who they think they are—they can walk their talk.  This makes them natural and inspiring leaders, guides, and trailblazers.  They are at home making important decisions, which they base on their own observations, experience, and deep knowing.  In fact, they have seemingly limitless faith in themselves and their own abilities to navigate the world.  Autonomy is key to them, a source of life.  By constantly bringing out the best in themselves, people with Self-Assurance bring out the best in us and in the world.

Why Should We Care

They are resilient people who have an intuitive way of bouncing back after an upset or moving forward despite the odds—and they teach the rest of us how to do the same.  They are instructive and inspiring to others, simply by how they live and interact.  They provide a concrete and consistent model of how developing an inner-awareness is essential to thrive.  People with Self-Assurance actually seek out challenges that put themselves to the test—always fine-tuning along the way in an effort to ensure their success, progress, and personal evolution.  They can often do what most people cannot or will not.  When it comes to working with others, they are generally motivating and respectful, and they often have a highly developed sense of tact, which can be very charismatic.  So, while they are high-achieving, they do not generally steamroll others, preferring to avoid conflict, confrontation, and power-struggles, if possible.  That said, they also don’t look for buy-in or consensus before moving forward, either.  If they know what they want to do and feel that it’s right, they move ahead and take action confidently—they don’t need the approval of other people to get moving and they are comfortable going it alone.  An awareness of the fact that each person perceives and experiences the world differently is central to their world view, which is why they are not concerned with getting complete cooperation before taking action.  They remind us of our sovereign agency and personal power to create change in our lives.  They inspire us to truly go for it.

Ten Things to Know About People with SELF-ASSURANCE

1. Awareness. Self-Assurance is about more than simple confidence.  It’s about self-awareness—folks with this strength know what they are capable of, to be sure; but they are also aware of what they are incapable of—what they cannot do, too.  And, they are comfortable with it.  They are not into peacocking or appearances, they like what is real—a Strengths-mindset naturally makes sense to them—so, they are at ease letting someone else do what they cannot do.

2. Impact. They may become agitated or even depressed if they are feeling bored, confined, or limited, or if they are not living in the fullness of their potential.  They are here to contribute.  It may be personal or global, loud or quiet—either way, they are here to have an impact and will fight in order to leave their mark on the world.

3. Trust. When it comes to making decisions and taking action, sometimes they may need to say, “I just know.”  In these cases, they rely on others to trust them and their ability to deliver on what they know.  It can be difficult at times for them to truly articulate their vision or action-plan, as they can intuitively connect may dots in their minds.

4. Complexity. Their strength is more than simple sureness, and it is certainly not arrogance.  Instead, it is a type of multi-dimensional confidence based one part on gut and intuition, one part on experience, learning, and observation, and one part on natural instinct.

5. Early Adopters. People with Self-Assurance are often early adopters of new ideas, trends, and technology.  They seem to have a radar screen that picks up elements and decodes patterns to make order out of chaos, which can put them ahead of the curve.

6. First-hand. They are likely to be people who “learn by doing” as well as people who want to try things out for themselves before establishing an opinion or making an endorsement.  Cool and calm as they may be, they are, by nature, action oriented and want to experience the world with their own senses and see things with their own eyes.

7. Representation. Hollywood, television, and popular culture are prone to cookie-cutter archetypes of what Self-Assurance looks and feels like—at times glamorizing it as a type of macho coldness or robotic bull-headedness, when really, it’s purest form is rooted in deep intuitive awareness, which can be absolutely silent and warm-hearted.

8. Authenticity. Being genuine and sincere is very important to them.  And, this included being so with themselves.  They are not ones to be in denial or look away from a problem in their lives.  They also expect a level of openness and vulnerability from others—something that they can connect to on a deeper-than-surface level.

9. Personal Development. They have a natural inclination toward conscious personal development.  They like to be at the reins of their own lives and refuse to float for very long.  Don’t be surprised if they are constantly investing in some sort of self-improvement activity.

10. Love. They know it when they see it and they will likely be attracted to others who are ambitious, free-thinking, and self-made.  They are willing to be alone in lieu of having a superficial, artificial, or shallow connection with another person.  Love, for them, is likely about doing things together as opposed to planning or talking about doing things together.

Zach_Headshot_Edits (4 of 23)

Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at StrengthsLife.com

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.