What It Means to Be a Relator


What Is the RELATOR Theme

Relators are the people in our lives who love to go deep with their relationships.  Forming superficial or temporary bonds with others just doesn’t do it for them.  What they seek is authentic connection—an opening between two people where trust can build over time and where real human-to-human understanding can occur.  Instead of having a hundred friends, Relators might have ten—but they are heavily invested and place a high value on each and every one of them.  Each relationship in their life has been purposefully cultivated.  Relators might have a small circle, but they would do anything for the people in it.  Think of a tree with roots that grow down instead of out.  A relator has a sense that truly connecting with another human being is not only rare, but sacred.  And, because of this, they know that it also requires work, energy, and time to really dive in with someone.  So, their tendency is to keep their crew small—for them, this feels like quality over quantity.  Relators are the ones who turn the ringer off on their phone when they come over.  They find immense pleasure in the feelings of deep connection, closeness, and presence.  So, they are happy to give others their full attention when spending time together.  For some, this level of intimacy can feel extravagant, even a little overwhelming—and, yet, it is welcomed.  Where some relationships make us feel invisible, Relators make us feel accepted, cared for, and loved.

Why Should We Care

These people have a keen sensitivity when it comes to how their presence, words, and actions affect others—and vice versa.  They instinctively consider the human element in all that they do.  Relators are dynamically aware and they teach us how to ask for more from our connections with others.  Because they are sensitive to the nuances of a relationship, friendship, or connection, they reveal layers of ourselves that we may not have known were there.  They have a deeply accurate intuitive knowing of what it takes to build a relationship.  They just know.  And, within that, they have an incredible capacity for unconditional love, understanding, and acceptance.  Relators show us how to go the extra mile in our relationships and how to generate authentic interest and curiosity in others.  They provide us with a model of what a deep and connected relationship can be—one with risk, openness, and vulnerability—where we are truly understood, acknowledged, and seen.

Ten Things to Know About People with RELATOR

1. Everyone. Relators don’t really differentiate between people based on age, race, sexual identity, or creed.  It is more like “Is there potential for connection here or not?”

2. Introvert/Extrovert. Relators are happy to meet lots of people, they may even be the life of the party, but it just isn’t where the core-value and meaning are found for them in their relationships.  They recharge with a small circle of friends, not a crowd.

3. Presence. They value presence.  Period.  At the coffee shop, they are zoned-in on the conversation.  Over the phone they are listening carefully, not distracted.  Don’t be surprised if they get annoyed when you seem preoccupied.

4. Risk. Establishing meaningful connections with others is key for them, they may see it like a dance where one person risks a little and then the other risks a little.  They are generally not in an eager rush to share their life story.  Bit-by-bit, back and forth is how they prefer to build trust and confidence.

5. Boundaries. Some Relators are so approachable and personable that people—strangers, even—may open up to them in startling ways and over-share.  Setting boundaries is an art that Relators are usually perfecting.

6. Small Talk. Chit-chat isn’t particularly interesting to them.  They may even prefer an awkward silence to a surface-level conversation.  Remember, what they seek is a sense of an ever-deepening between themselves and other.

7. Gifts. Relators are notoriously amazing gift givers.  Fact.

8. Isolation. Being disconnected from their inner-circle for too long can be emotionally disorienting for them.  They may even feel like they are losing their mind.

9. Needs. The way that Relators experience connection is through intimacy.  Be it in person or over the phone, what they need in their relationships is closeness.  An occasional coffee date or text might not be enough for them.

10. Love. They have a profound capacity to love, they believe in others and in their connections.  When a relationship hits a rough patch, Relators are likely to hold the space and the light until harmony is achieved.

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.

What Being Adaptable Really Means


What Is the ADAPTABILITY Theme

People with the strength of Adaptability come alive during change, they are energized by it and actually thrive in it.  Where some people stress-out, they dive in.  They are great at moving with life and taking things as they come, which speaks to their profound open-mindedness.  Their perspective is such that every moment holds the seed of possibility for an even greater moment, so, they resist making rigid plans.  Why?  Because, what if something incredible pops up along the way.  They love knowing that they can take detours, follow their noses, and go with the flow.  For, their aliveness is found in their ability to have and make choices, to face new experiences and adapt.  Life, for them, is experienced as a series of choices, each made one at a time.  In that way, we are all writing our own story in real-time.  These people do not see life as static or predestined, so they have tremendous ability to be present.  They live in the now.  For them, the present moment is sacred; it is an infinite doorway.

Why Should We Care

These are the people who are magically more productive when plans get disrupted.   They are quick thinkers who are not afraid to be put on the spot.  This is because they naturally know how to spring into action and get results on the fly.  Like a GPS, they can easily course correct.  In fact, they prefer a few detours.  These are people whose focus seems to sharpen when they are pulled simultaneously in several directions.  They are calm in a crisis.  Above all else, these are the people who remind us of the only real moment there is—the present moment.  The here and now is where they dwell.  And, they show is how to be with what is—retrieving our minds from the future and past—and teaching us how to respond to the demands of the moment.  Their mantra is not so much “All is well” but rather “I can handle whatever comes my way.”

Ten Things to Know About People with ADAPTABILITY

1. Personal Sovereignty. Above almost anything else, they value autonomy.  Knowing that they are not locked-in to a single way of doing things is essential for them to feel fully expressed as individuals.

2. Big Goals. Because they shoot from the hip so well, it can feel difficult for them to be methodical and strategic.  To accomplish something large over the long term, they may divide it up into mini-goals or, even, mini-mini-goals that they can tackle in spurts.

3. Confidence. They can generally feel at home anywhere, a reliable trait which puts others at ease.  They may even have an almost hypnotic calm in high octane situations.

4. Creating Chaos. When feeling stuck or static, they may unconsciously seek out mini-dramas as a channel for their adaptability energy.  Chaos can feel like a substitute for what they really want: choices and change.

5. Spontaneity vs. Impulsiveness. For some, it can feel like a thin line between seizing the moment (spontaneity) and reflexively acting in the moment (impulsiveness).  It is an art that people with Adaptability are always fine-tuning.

6. Anxiety. They have a need to know that there is some flexibility in each area of their life.  They can feel claustrophobic, cagey, and, sometimes, panicked if there is not very much breathing room in their days, schedules, and relationships.

7. Unstructured Play. At times, they might feel plagued by boredom, especially if there is too much predictability or too many timelines.  So, being intentional about making time where there isn’t any structure or game-plan is soothing and healing for them.

8. Chameleons. Adaptability can be a double-edged sword because people can, in a way, make the best of almost any situation; however, in doing so, they can end up floating from one thing to the next and never truly feeling like they’ve found their purpose.

9. Leaders. Because of their ability to respond to the needs of the moment, keep a level head, and juggle many things at once, they are natural leaders, often doing so effortlessly or even by accident.

10. Being Seen. Without an outlet for their energy, it can turn inward and then into hopelessness and, even, depression.   Initiating a spontaneous exchange or an unprompted outing can change their whole outlook.

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.

The Facts About People With “Useless” Knowledge


What Is the INPUT Theme

These people are the magpies of the Strengths world.  They are collectors and curators and have many interests.  Folks with input have a generalized curiosity about virtually everything and they seem to enjoy the sort of thinking that allows them to be fascinated, even overwhelmed at times.  They love the vastness and intricacy of life, reality, and the world.  In that way, they are “Renaissance People” who naturally and reflexively gather objects into collections and mentally register information, memories, and ideas.  Not only do they want to see, feel, and experience it all, they also want to remember, share, and keep it all too.  What is possibly most important for them is finding a system, a way to archive, catalogue, index, or display what they have gathered.  There is an omnipresent sense of ‘just-in-case’ with them—they can envision a possible use or a possible reason for holding on to basically anything.  These are the people who have ornate filing systems, epic Pinterest pages, beautiful arrays of trinkets on bookshelves, and a virtual tickertape of conversation topics, interesting facts, jokes, stories, and, ideally, exciting memories of their own experiences.  They have the capacity to be deeply present listeners, too, picking up on the smallest details of what they hear, intuit, and observe.  More than anything else, their sense of scale is highly evolved—they may marvel at the vastness of space one moment and then the complexity of ants working together the next.  For them, it is all important; it is all worth their attention and, in most cases, their admiration as well.  And so, if it is worth that much, it is also worth saving and/or remembering.  They are collectors of things, finders of things, and keepers of things: micro and macro, real or intangible, near and far.  They keep us conscious of the infinite.

Why Should We Care

Those with the strength of input are innovative, openly complex, and resourceful people.  They have vast stores of information, references, and resources that they are hungry to share.  When it comes to working with them, they are walking/talking encyclopedias who help us push projects and visions into a larger context with bigger, broader, and more meaningful connections.  Their impulse is to want to relate one thing to another and to find a purpose, a use, or a home for all that they have gathered.  They are constantly being “reminded” of things, which is their gift.  For, they often reveal important links that turns chaos into order.  They have a skill that helps us see the interrelated nature of all things.  People with input also help us value the full spectrum, from the beauty of a grain of sand to the very spinning cosmos. They teach us how to be curious about the world.  They may even show us how to be in awe.

Ten Things to Know About People with INPUT

1. Juxtaposition. Folks with input are likely to make leaping connections between things.  While it may feel random or disjointed to others, for them there is a logic to it.  Don’t be afraid to ask them to connect the dots a little bit.

2. Completism. People with input are completists—they find a value in having all of something or experiencing the entire range of things.  If they like a certain musician, for example, it’s likely that they will try to own or listen to everything that the artist has produced.

3. Good Tastes. Because of their completist nature, they are great refiners of things and have good tastes—especially in the arts, music, film, literature, restaurants, and entertainment.  Because they’ve seen it all, we can reliably look to them for great recommendations.

4. Analogies. They are very associative people, prone to making sense of the world by exploring one thing’s relationship to another.  They may use a lot of analogies.

5. Finishing. They may have a hard time finishing things because they get off track very easily.  They may also have a difficult time ever feeling truly finished because of how they dwell in possibility, abundance, variety, and potential.

6. Netflix. People with input might take binging on shows to an awesome level.  The internet serves as a mixed blessing when it comes to their desire for “all-ness”.

7. Input Gone Wild. They can imagine a use or a future use for virtually anything, which can turn into a compulsion to save and store everything that they come into contact with.  Input gone wild is hording.

8. Heavy Topics. It may seem like they want to talk about everything all at once.  Don’t be surprised if they somehow take a conversation from the light and airy to the deep and philosophical.

9. Novelty. They have a deep reverence for what is new to them.  They rarely re-read or re-watch things, they may even hesitate to go to the same places twice because, for them, the world is so large and there is so much else that they haven’t seen.

10. Useless Information. They may refer to themselves at “troves of useless information”.  This playful self-deprecation can come from a lifetime of being dismissed.  People with input feel valued when they are given the opportunity to have stream-of-consciousness conversations.

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 No One Is Saying About Positivity


What Is the POSITIVITY Theme

Enthusiastic.  Transformative.  And, rejuvenating.  People with positivity have a contagious view of life that feels like a breath of fresh air to most people.  Their message is simple and consistent, “We find what we look for: So, let’s look for the positive.”  Ever-aware that there is more than one way to view a situation, they are constantly scanning for the positives, the highlights, and the exciting parts of life.  For them, positivity is not simply synonymous with ‘happiness’, nor is it mindlessly ‘looking on the bright side’.  No, true positivity has nothing to do with dawning a pair of rose-colored glasses, instead it is the ability to find meaning in all of life’s events and adventures.  In the ups and downs, these are the people who are able to naturally identify the greatest points of value, even in the darkest times.  They often see what others cannot: opportunities instead of predicaments.  They help shift our perspective, our consciousness, and the course of our lives.  Positive people are, in so many ways, enlightened—the keepers of the flame.

Why Should We Care

Folks with the strength of positivity are forward thinking, open-minded, and willing to temporarily suspend their own comfort to dig for the gemstones in an otherwise glum situation.  And, importantly, they are sincere.  These are the people who we like to be around—their energy is healing, their words are genuine, and their presence is reliable.  They are the ones we call when we are feeling discouraged, demoralized, and defeated.  We can look to them for perspective, honesty, validation, and affirmation.  We can also look to them to celebrate the good times with us; they are genuinely happy for others in their successes and they love to celebrate wins.  For them: Shared joy is double joy.

Ten Things to Know About People with POSITIVITY

1. Growth Opportunities. Don’t be surprised if positive people see every moment of life as a chance to grow, even in the midst of tremendous hardship, grief, and struggle.

2. Feeling Responsible. Folks with positivity might feel perpetually and personally responsible for the vibe in a room.  They may go to great lengths to elevate or brighten the mood at a social gathering.

3. Choosing. It can be easy to overlook an element of conscious discretion in their outlook.  That is, just because they choose to focus on the good in the world, it does not mean that they don’t see the rest.

4. Naïveté. They hate being thought of as Pollyannas, because these folks are anything but naïve.  In fact, they are emotionally evolved in such a way that has them seeing sides of situations that escape everyone else.

5. What It’s Not. Positivity is not saying, “The house is burning down, but at least it’s keeping my hands warm.”  Again, positivity is largely about finding the value, the meaning, the big picture significance in life’s ups and downs.

6. Holding Back. Positive people can feel like the world is relying on them to be uplifting every second, which means that they may try to hide what they are really feeling inside.

7. Intrusive Thoughts. Negativity, violence, and injustice hit these people hard.  They may find themselves privately replaying or obsessing about the ‘badness’ of the world.  This can be stressful and isolating for them.

8. Sitting With Discomfort. Positive people may need to consciously practice sitting with discomfort, because their tendency or reaction is, at times, to try to control, steer, or restrict tense situations, even when for them to do so is unproductive.

9. Vibes. These people are ultra-sensitive and can feel negativity on a vibratory, cellular level.  This means that they might physically hold on to it in their bodies; it can affect their health, sleep, energy, and lifespan.  They may need to literally shake out their arms and legs after being in an emotionally negative space, or go for a run, or even scream.

10. Honoring Them. We may have been taught to dismiss positive people as out-of-touch or too idealistic, which is truly toxic energy to positive people.  We can honor them simply by listening to their view, making room for their ideas, and not challenging them at every turn.

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.