Today, I'm going to talk about how I use the Clifton's strengths themes to design my life and my author career. Thanks to S. Embry for suggesting this video topic!
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(00:00): Today, I'm going to talk about how I use the Clifton's strengths themes to design my life and my author career. This question came from S Embry. Recently, I did an AMA when I hit 1000 subscribers here on YouTube, and they had this question about Clifton strengths, which I'm always happy to talk about. And they wanted to know how I designed my life using these strengths and honing them and learning them. In 2020, I discovered Becca Syme and her QuitCast, I will link channel in the description box below in case you're interested in learning even more about Clifton strengths. I am not a Clifton strengths coach, but I have been studying and researching and applying my strength themes throughout this past year. And I wanted to share it with S Embry and anyone else who's interested in checking them out. Now, recently I did a video about the QuitBooks series by Becca Syme, which I will link also in the description if you want to check it out.
(01:02): And this is sort of my initial journey into Clifton strengths and how she coaches writers specifically to use these strengths, to make them better, faster, and more productive, and really lean into these natural talents that they have to design the life and career that they want. Since I've only been doing this for a year, this is a consistent, ongoing learning process for me, but I've discovered so much in this past year. I did take one of her courses and I am a part of her paid Patreon. Becca does have a free version for her patrons as well, but I decided to try to level up myself this past year when it comes to my strengths and how I get better in my life and my career. When it comes to talking about strengths, the ones that come most naturally to you are usually in the top 10 or so list that you get after you take the test.
(01:55): So I'm going to discuss my top 10 in no particular order. And I'm also not going to name them specifically because there are trademarks with these names. And I don't want to get into any detail, but if you are interested in what the strengths actually are, feel free to email or DM, and I'd be happy to discuss that with you. I just don't want to step on anyone's toes. There are four domains when it comes to Clifton strengths and I have three of them in my top 10. So I'm going to batch them into these domains and then go through what this particular strength is and how I apply it to my life. And mostly my writing career, because this is a writing channel. The most frequent domain that I see in my top 10 are called executing strength themes. And these are the themes that really help you make things happen.
(02:43): So the first theme I'm going to discuss is a theme that really takes pride in making decisions makes very careful decisions and assesses risk in making those decisions. This was the initial strength that I fought a little bit against when I got my results, because it seems like a very slow process with this particular strength. There's a lot of thinking before doing and a lot of assessment. And I really thought I was good at making quick and effective decisions, but it turns out I am not. When I take a look back at my career. And I think of things that I jumped on right away without really, really thinking researching, I tended to later on regret them or feel as if they weren't the best decision at the time. And the ones that I feel really good about are the ones that I actually sat back and thought about and assessed the risk in taking them.
(03:40): And this could take form in a pros and cons list or just extensive research into the decision that I had to make. And in S Embry's phrasing, how do I design my life and career around this particular strength? Since leaning a little more into this particular strength theme, I have really appreciated this process, especially as I go into indie publishing, as I'm doing this year, I have spent so much time thinking about and researching how I want to structure my author business. And also when it comes to making decisions on anything that is a high monetary amount, being an indie published author versus a traditional published author, which I am, I never really had to put a lot of money upfront for anything when it came to publishing my book other than marketing costs or ads. And this has just been a lot and I wanted to do it correctly the first time, as much as I could.
(04:35): I know everyone makes mistakes and I'm sure I will make mistakes along the way, but I know when I make the decisions, those are the best decisions for me at the time. And this is where the strength shines. It's definitely helped me stay on budget this year. I know in the past I have made quick decisions about courses or programs that I just had to have because they were new and shiny. And I have just been a little more careful when it comes to my purchasing, which is that risk assessment. And I want to make sure that anything I do spend money on has a good return, whether that is information to help further my career or a program that will help me in indie publishing instead of just taking a chance on something that won't. While I still rebel a little bit when it comes to the slowing down process of this particular strength thrives on.
(05:23): I know that when I look back on my indie career, especially as I have been adding this to my life, I probably won't have as many regrets as I do with many of the decisions that I have made in the past seven or so years of publishing. The next strength is the ability to prioritize, set goals, and work efficiently. This is one of the strengths that people actively ask me about prior to me taking this assessment, because it always seems like I get a lot of work done when I set my mind to it, and why goal setting works for me. To be fair, I really have to manufacture this time when it comes to my writing or my author business. I have to dedicate time to really hone in on a certain process, whether it's drafting or setting up an author business. I also dedicate time every day, usually about five to 10 minutes at the end of my day to review what I've done and see what I need to do the next day.
(06:18): And also at the start of the week, usually on Sundays, I will review my upcoming week and also the calendar for the month. Also looking at the goals that I do set, I do set quarterly goals, and I do add that to my calendar. So I am constantly looking at things I need to do and carving out these little sections of time to be able to do them as best I can in the very little time I have. The next strength theme has to do with resolving problems. So that is basically figuring them out, figuring out a problem, and then the ability to solve them as efficiently as I can. I find the strength of really shines when I do my outlines for my projects, I use different methods of outlining, not one in particular. And that process is always changing. Most books have conflict for characters that need to be resolved, or at least have some sort of resolution,
(07:11): even if you are writing a series and working all of those little conflicts out prior to drafting really helps me in the drafting process as it's offering me a roadmap of what needs to be resolved in my book. The next strength theme has to do with taking ownership of what I say I will do and being a person of their word, looking back, as I said, I made some mistakes in my publishing career that this particular strength had sort of done me wrong, or I had done wrong by it is committing too much to my ghostwriting projects. When I first started ghostwriting three, four years ago, I would take as many jobs as I could to try to build up my reviews and get as much money I could from the process. And this particular strength, it doesn't really like that, especially when you have a family or other commitments and that you need to honor prior to doing extra things.
(08:07): And the reason that that is a problem is because it definitely can lead to burn out. And I suffered burnout several times a year, every year that I was ghostwriting. For me, how I have knowing my strengths. I have been able to look at this particular theme and make sure that I check my commitments prior to making any other commitments. And as much as I hate to say, no, I know what this particular theme that I feel better when I say no, knowing that I don't have the time versus saying yes, and then struggling not being able to meet that commitment or otherwise. And this can also be in terms of being a critique partner, a beta reader, signing a contract, or even signing up for pre-orders. Now, as I go into independent publishing, I did think about this for a long time, because I know that pre-order campaigns can do wonders for a book, but it can also not do wonders for a book. Especially
(09:08): if you don't meet that deadline, I know specifically on Amazon, you, I think have one chance to move your pre-order date. And if you don't, and if you are able, if you have to cancel your pre-order, you lose pre-order privileges. So that really hits me in the gut when it comes to this particular strength, because I am a person, my word, if I say the book is coming out on a certain date, it will come out on that date. And while this strength sometimes gives me a little bit of trouble, because I do want to do all of the things leaning into it is definitely the best because I know what I commit to I will complete, and I will do it to the best of my ability and feel good about that process. The last strength theme that I have within the executing a domain is the theme of craving stable routines.
(09:54): And this is also why I crashed and burned during the beginning of lockdown in 2020, when all routines had ceased to exist. Now, strength themes are fun in the way that usually when they are closer to the top of your results and you pair them together, they can become like a super power for you. Pairing this one with that prioritization strength theme helps me create stable and effective writing routines that really push me toward finishing a book and moving toward that publication process, whether that's indie publishing or traditional publishing. In my top 10 strengths, I have three relationship building strengths. That's another domain. And these are obviously themes that help you build strong relationships or in my case, stronger relationships with my characters. The first theme is a theme that creates a very close relationships that foster trust and confidence in them when it comes to my personal life
(10:55): I honestly don't have a lot of close relationships. I never have. I don't really mind that either. I know a lot of people want these big friend groups, but I've never been the type to want that. And this is a reason why this one is in my top three, because it's just very natural to me. It takes a while to get to know me, but once you are in my inner circle, you're there for life. I see this in my writing when it comes to my characters and the connections they make throughout the book. And as I am a plotter, I really focus on plot when I am outlining. And also that first draft of writing, I do have a very good idea about the characters right away, but as I go through the revision or editing process, I really dive into those inner circles that I mentioned and really dig deep into the characters
(11:43): in that sense. I think this is why character profiles don't really work for me, especially at the beginning stages of a book. I'm still in the outer circle with this particular character, even though they're pretty well formed, which I'll discuss in a minute because I naturally treat these characters as if they are people. And I am trying to get into their inner circle by getting to know them better. And I know that sounds a little woo-woo. But once I realized that, and it was so high in my strengths, it took a lot of stress off me when it came to the outlining process and starting the book, knowing that I will dig in as I go on with my draft. The next strength theme has to do with conflict. And this particular theme does not really like conflict. And they seek to find areas of agreement.
(12:31): I feel this most during the brainstorming and drafting process, I consistently think about how I can resolve conflict between characters more particularly the main character. And this is a way I can dive deeper into the characters, finding the little nuances of how they might resolve this issue, where I, the author am just there to mediate it based on the character's personality to find that resolution, which is important for most books. And the last relationship building theme in this section is one that is intrigued by the uniqueness of people and the ability to know how to bring out their best. Again, this is another one that shines when it comes to my characters. When I create them, they feel very real to me. And while I'm digging deeper into those inner circles, I am able to see how they are unique and really bring those unique qualities to life, to make my characters unique from each other and not all the same character. Because naturally my characters are pretty formed.
(13:33): I am able to quickly find their unique qualities that make them pop on the page. And most of the character development usually comes later in my drafts. And I also find that if I ever get stuck, one of the books that really helps me is GMC by Debra Dixon. I mentioned it during one of my review videos, which I will also link, and this is a very simple process to help me get unstuck based on the characters that I already know, but sometimes need a little bit of help to get through a block. The next two themes from my top 10 are part of the strategic thinking domain. And these are themes that help you absorb and analyze information to allow you to make better decisions. This next theme is one that appreciates deep thought when it comes to my process. And this has been something over the years that has happened to me, and I never really knew how to deal with it is finding a mental block when I get to a certain part of my process.
(14:29): And that is wildly different throughout any of the books that I've written, but I just always have a particular feeling. And once I got to know my strength themes, this one in particular really came to light because I realized that that actually meant that I needed to be doing something specific to get out of that mental block. And when I can't see the story moving forward, instead of really digging in like, which may work for some people, it doesn't really work for me. The stories turns very dark and it's like a thick fog that I can't get through. So now what I do is I know at this point that I need to work through something in my mind. So I turn my computer off and I go about my day, whether that's bringing kiddo to school, cleaning up the house, cooking. One thing that I found during lockdown that I love to do is puzzles.
(15:17): And I found that when I was doing those and I wasn't writing at all, because I was stuck, I found that after a few days of puzzling, I was able to have that urge again, to write. And now that process moves a little faster for me because, because I've gotten used to the situation that we are in now, but I do enjoy puzzling as a way to puzzle through the problems that I'm going through with my books. The next strategic thinking theme within my top 10 is one that needs to collect and analyze information, ideas, and even relationships. While I really enjoy the collecting process, I always have, I always love learning new things and finding new things to enhance my career. I've learned that this strength in particular is one of the ones that I consistently work on. I'm really good at the collection of all of these ideas and information, but it's the output, which is very important with this one that needs to happen.
(16:12): For instance, I would read a ton of craft books, but I really wouldn't apply any of the information that I had tabbed or highlighted. So lately I've been going through the process of creating a second brain on Notion, and this is sort of a way to find all of the information that I need as I need it, and be able to output in a way where I can organize the data and know exactly where I need to go to find it when I do need it. Like I said, I'm doing better with this one, but I do have to find that balance when it comes to collecting and also analyzing. In terms of leveling up the strength themes I am working very hard every day to do so this is the one big part of my life that has helped me so much in such a terrible year as 2020 for a lot of people, myself included.
(17:02): And I'm so happy that I found Becca Syme when I did, to be able to bring me to this level where I'm able to consistently level up my process and my life and everything in between. If you are intrigued by the Clifton's strengths, I do have a link to Becca's website where you can take the test for only $10. I don't really know how much it is normally, but I'm assuming it's more than $10. If you want to try this out for yourself. And if you've already taken the test and are considering, taking the courses with Becca at the Better Faster Academy, I do have some affiliate links in the description box below. By no means does it cost you any extra money to use them, but it does give me a kickback in return, which I would so appreciate, but it is obviously not necessary. So do leave a comment below and let me know if any of this personal development interests you I'd love to continue this conversation in the comments below. And once again, if you enjoyed this video, do give it a like, hit that subscribe button and the little notification bell next to it. So you know the next time I upload and I'll see you soon,
Author. Dreamer. Storyteller.