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Strengths Help You Hear the Music

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.                                                       

Credited to Friedrich Nietzsche

Wondering what this quote has to do with CliftonStrengths. For clarity, Strengths and CliftonStrengths refers to the information revealed about yourself from the StrengthsFinder (or CliftonStrengths) assessment.What does Friedrich Nietzsche have to do with Strengths? What does dancing have to do with Strengths? What does being insane have to do with Strengths? What a great bunch of questions!

The answer to the first question is that the quotation probably didn’t originate with Friedrich Nietzsche. It’s not clear who initially proposed this origin though it is often misattributed to him.   Not attributing it to Friedrich Nietzsche is something of a blessing for this post. It means I don’t have to discuss how the concepts of the “will to power” or God is dead (I am quoting not agreeing with this) have anything to do with Strengths. Let’s just agree, Friedrich Nietzsche has nothing to do with CliftonStrengths.

Dancing could be connected to Strengths. Perhaps you have high Positivity™ and that might reveal itself is through joyful movement in the form of dance. But that is not how I am thinking of the quotation.

The only way I can connect CliftonStrengths’ to insanity is thinking how crazy it would be not to put your Strengths to work. That would be insane.

So here is how I connect the quotation, “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music” with CliftonStrengths:

When you first discover your CliftonStrengths from the assessment, there are probably things that are obvious as well as traits that you never thought of or could never describe. When you first become familiar with Strengths, you see them like a personality test. The information revealed about you is fascinating. Admit it, we all kinda think stuff about ourselves is fascinating.

The next step is to see your themes as more than some interesting facts about yourself. You could take the assessment, look over your results and put it in the back of a drawer with the 2013 March Madness bracket. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who do that. But Strengths power and value are revealed when you recognize them as your hows, whys and motivations. If you really want to get the most out of your assessment, you find ways to lean into your Strengths and work around your weaknesses.

But Strengths is not just about you and your Strengths.

How often have you wondered what was going on in somebody else’s head? Have you ever wondered how certain people are able to do things that you don’t even understand? Or, noticed how some colleagues approach a problem from an entirely different way than you would? Do you sometimes find that annoying? Even when things work out? Have you ever been so upset by the way other people deal with things, even when they succeed, that you’ve thought they were crazy. You’ve even thought they might be “insane”.

There’s that guy who keeps asking questions when you are ready to move forward. He asks about this and he asks about that. Yeah, you know he has helped you find shortcomings in plans before they cause problems, but he makes meetings go on and on. Do you ever wonder why he does that?

Or the woman who keeps talking about what is fair. You know she gets everyone onboard with new plans, but wouldn’t that have happened anyway? Well, it could happen anyway, couldn’t it?

Hmmm, insane or crazy or maybe just wrong – even when things actually turn out better.

Stop and think for just a minute. Maybe they’re not insane. Maybe they are just dancing to music that you can’t hear. Perhaps they look at you sometimes and wonder if you are the one who is “off your rocker”. Maybe that’s because they don’t hear the music you’re dancing to.

Strengths power multiplies when they help us hear the tune that others are dancing to and can help us invite each other onto the dancefloor. When you can hear your colleagues tango and she can hear your two-step, you can make beautiful music together. Or at least you can avoid stepping on each other’s feet, which is a pretty good start.

Why don’t you turn the (alleged) words of Friedrich Nietzsche into the wisdom of the American songwriter Irving Berlin who suggested, “Let’s face the music and dance”.