Why Activators Are So Awesome


What Is the ACTIVATOR Theme

Activators are the high-energy, high-output people in our lives who love to hit the go button and make things happen.  They are outwardly action-oriented in their approach to life and they often live in perpetual motion, mainly preferring it that way.  Their style is one of “fire, fire, aim”.  This doesn’t make them reckless, instead it makes them fearless (or, better, it makes them, simply, fear less).  Being naturally confident in their abilities to deliver and to sort out messes, Activators embody a vision that says, “Let’s dive in, we’ll figure it all out along the way!”  And, they are champions of the learn-as-you-grow mentality—they own their mistakes, look for the lesson, and dive back in.  They would rather learn in the field—and get bumped and bruised—than learn in a chair and get bored.  For them, the value, meaning, and enjoyment of life is in the doing—not in the theorizing, scheduling, and planning.  With this perspective comes a certain level of everlasting impatience, which serves as a sort of fuel for them; restlessness seems to sharpen their radar, intensify their focus, and drive them toward their next goal, pursuit, or achievement.  It boils down to this: It’s not what you say, it’s what you do that counts.  They are wayseers and trailblazers, they create paths for the world and for the future to follow.

Why Should We Care

They are self-reliant, self-starting, high-achieving people who know intuitively how to get things moving.  Action is everything to them and they encourage us to shake things up and put the gears in motion.  For an Activator, a shaky launch is unquestionably better than no start at all.  In that, they sow seeds of wisdom, reminding us that if we wait until we know everything, or if we wait for everything to “feel” right before beginning something, we will never get anything done.  Life, for them, is about total immersion—and the best way to learn things is to do them.  In fact, they might say that the best way to do things is to do them!  Importantly, their enthusiasm to translate thought into action is, itself, an evolved form of optimism and possibly altruism; the spirit of which is this: do more, fail fast, it’s all okay, because it’s only a mistake until you learn the lesson. In that way, Activators are eternally and effortlessly inspiring.

Ten Things to Know About People with ACTIVATOR

1. Leadership. Activators are born leaders.  Where some people in the world are all talk and no action, Activators may very well be all action and no talk.  This can leave people wondering what is going on!  For this reason, Activators appreciate followers and, in some ways, require others to trust them and, from time to time, to go along for the ride.

2. Forgetful. They can be so motion-focused that they completely lose track of the details.  What feels like an important conversation to someone might be instantly forgotten by an Activator.  For this reason, many Activators rely on technology, digital reminders, post-it notes, and those around them for structure, reminders, and the nitty-gritty.  They seem to like “set-it-and-forget-it” scenarios.

3. It Isn’t Personal. It may feel like an Activator is leaving others in the dust, and, perhaps, they are.  It is not personal, however, and they do it in the spirit of carpe diem.  They just love to say: Let’s go.  In fact, they might actually take it personally—or, at least, be confused by the fact—that everyone in the world is not as high-octane as they are.

4. Impatient. When it comes to communicating with Activators, especially about professional matters, we are wise to lead with the point of the message.  They like it when others cut to the chase—they value it—and are not fans of chit-chat, preambles, and overtures.

5. Balance. They may struggle with the idea of balance.  And, in a culture where both balance and extremes are glorified, they might feel pulled in several directions to simultaneously speed up and slow down.  They are wise to lean unaplogetically into their energy, it is consistently life-giving to them.

6. Traffic. It is likely that they would rather drive 30 mins out of their way in order to avoid having to sit in traffic for 30 mins.  This scenario works metaphorically in many areas of their lives.  In a nutshell: They would rather be bothered by doing something than by doing nothing.

7. Presence. Many Activators have been criticized for being “all over the place” and, over time, they may try to tone it down or even hide it all together. Scaling it back can be physically painful for them.  Being in the present moment, for them, is not necessarily about laser focus; instead, their presence might be characterized as a wide-sweeping awareness—a wide radar with everything on it all at once.

8. Zen. There may be something paradoxical about the ways that Activators relax, as, they mostly relax by doing things.  In fact, they may find their greatest zen moments through rigorous exercise, extreme activities, or repetitive movements.  They are also mighty multi-taskers who may need to flip through a magazine while they watch TV, sort their Inbox or organize a junk drawer while on a conference call, or balance their bank accounts while they wait in line.

9. Burn out. Activators may be notorious for running themselves into the ground over and over again.  Don’t be surprised if you can see it coming before they can.

10. Love. For Activators love is likely an action word.  In relationships, they will follow a don’t-tell-me-show-me approach.  Sure, they may be gracious receivers of kind words and odes, but it’s really not what fires them up—they like to see it.  For them, connection is found through action: creating experiences, making memories, and/or doing something brand new.

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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.


Why Maximizers Have the Strengths Strength


What Is the MAXIMIZER Theme

Maximizers are the people in our lives who instinctively focus on strengths and naturally take things to the next level.  Specifically, they love to bring people, things, and ideas from good to great, great to excellent, excellent to epic.  They did not come here to play small, so moving a situation from poor to fair or fair to good is simply not their speed; they prefer to do big things, so they emphasize and concentrate on greatness—in themselves, in others, and in the world.  They are drawn to excellence, fascinated by it, and also students of it.  At their core, Maximizers are solution-oriented and they are willing to go to great lengths to guard and preserve their vision and their energy.  Personal development is a priority for them and they will innately shy away (maybe even run away) from overly negative people and situations.  For them, life is not about “fixing” what is broken; instead, it is about capitalizing on what is already there, accentuating it, transforming it, and evolving.  It is their unshakable impulse to constantly push themselves and others into greater, more expansive expressions of who they are and what they can do.  Identifying excellence—or, the potential for it—is what they do best, and in doing so they reveal layers of the world that were hidden or dormant before.  They teach us and show us how to raise the bar and truly go for it.

Why Should We Care

These are the people who can bring out the absolute best in us and in teams.  They have a natural confidence that tells them that people are always capable of rising higher and becoming more.  And, they embody this spirit enthusiastically and without judgment.  For them, life is a continual series of steps forward—the point is not to “arrive” but, instead, to constantly improve.  Over time, they cultivate a certain type of charisma that is contagious and inspiring.  We might feel spontaneously joyful, or capable, or even heroic after a conversation with them.  They have a gift for drawing out the points of greatest potential in others.  Maximizers help ensure that we don’t rest on our laurels, that we stay hungry for more, and that we get the most out of our time here on earth.  In that way, when we connect with a Maximizer we often feel the world and our whole lives open up into a sphere of possibility: not what is, but what can be.  They can teach us how to say Yes to life.

Ten Things to Know About People with MAXIMIZER

1. Intuition. Even though they may be social and, in ways, extroverted, Maximizers are deeply aware people who have highly evolved intuitions.  It is one of the ways that they so quickly identify the already existing strengths of others and know just how to cultivate them.

2. Intensity. They generally have an intense, yet somehow calming, presence.  Others may find them a bit mysterious, which can lead to a curiosity about them and their inner-world.

3. Human Optimization. They are usually connoisseurs of some form of personal development.  The model or philosophy may vary, yes, but they are drawn to the ideas of those who have discovered something and then created a structure around it so that others may, too, develop along those lines.

4. Inner-Circle. Maximizers have an understanding that we are all the average of the people we spend the most time with—so, they aim intentionally to spend time with other driven individuals.

5. Grumbles. Being inherently strengths-minded, Maximizers generally have no tolerance—none—for complaining and nit-picking.  Don’t be surprised if they casually, or abruptly, set boundaries around negativity.

6. Sleep. For Maximizers, sleep might seem like an inconvenience.  It may also be something that they track methodically, tinker with, try to control or understand, and establish schedules around.

7. Networking. They are likely to see someone’s strengths first and personality second.  So, their broader personal and business networks can be staggeringly diverse—almost like the ornate gears inside of a wristwatch—where each person they know plays a key role in their vision for life and for the world.

8. Pressure. Maximizers don’t seem to mind when others have high expectations of them.  They may even prefer it that way, as it brings out their best.  They have an accurate gauge of what they can and cannot deliver.

9. Measuring. Being able to benchmark progress and growth can be hugely important to them.  They like to be able to see what has been done and track how something or someone has evolved.  From there, once it feels concrete, they take great pleasure in celebrating successes.

10. Love. Maximizers have a powerful enthusiasm that seeks constant expression.  It is likely that love is an action word for them; so, collaboration, teaming up on projects, and pursuing some type of venture can feel deeply connecting and soul-nourishing for them in their relationships.

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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 Deliberative People


What Is the DELIBERATIVE Theme

These are the people in our lives who think everything through very carefully before taking action or making a decision.  They are thoughtful, sharp-eyed, and patient in virtually all that they do—never rushing into anything.  For them, it is a priority to consider the risks, consequences, and implications of everything they notice, experience, and plan.  Their vigilance is a type of awareness that they are always cultivating, one that allows them to consider a given situation from multiple perspectives and make informed decisions.  They have a evolved sense of danger, which is ultimately at the core of their thinking: To identify the risks, bring them into the light, and avoid them.  Deliberative people generally see the world as a series of moving parts, which, to them, makes for an unpredictable place, one that merits careful attention at every step and turn.  They are planners and, in that way, visionary.  They can think in a multi-dimensional way for prolonged periods of time—assessing, weighing, calculating, revisiting, and evaluating every component of a scenario.  They are masters of decision making and remind us that a level of care, attention, and intention can be brought to all areas of our lives.

Why Should We Care

Deliberative people have incredibly good judgement and, because their radar is always up, they are always in the process of refining their awareness and senses.  They are likely to be asking themselves: Is this situation really what it seems?  Has something been overlooked?  What are the risks?  What are the main elements here, and what do I need to be aware of first and foremost?  We can count on them to make consistently sensible decisions, regardless of popularity or mass appeal.  Once they have done the math, they are happy to take action—whether others like it or not.  In that way, we can trust them to be impartial and fair because they are driven almost entirely by objective, not subjective factors.  People with the Deliberative strength take life rather seriously and they can draw us up and out of a slump and into that perspective with them.  They show us that, because our decisions matter, we matter.

Ten Things to Know About People with DELIBERATIVE

1. Private. They are generally private people who are not in a rush to be ‘known’ or even understood.  They have a kind of quiet confidence that sustains them, and they don’t feel the need to explain themselves to others.

2. FOMO. Deliberative people don’t really care about “missing out” on things.  Since they would rather make the right decision than rush into something and regret it, they don’t feel fearful or anxious about passing up what might feel like an opportunity.

3. Friends. It is likely that they have a tight circle of people that they trust with their lives and would do anything for.  They understand that true friendship takes work; they may even build their counsel of friends strategically, evaluating exactly what each person brings to the table.

4. Humor. They may have a dry, dark wit and prefer deadpan delivery in their comedy.  Generally, humor that reveals a truth about humanity or, better yet, that reveals something absurd about our world is very much at home with them.

5. Ripples. They have a very developed sense of cause and effect, so they are often considering the impact of a decision three of four steps down the line.  They are hyper-alert to things that might circle back to haunt them or others.

6. Awareness. They have a very high level of self-awareness and environmental awareness, even though they might seem like they don’t.  They do.  And, they like to blend in.

7. Complements. They might not give a lot of praise, however, when they do, they mean it one-hundred percent.  In addition to that, they probably oppose participation awards and value those who work hard day after day toward personal goals.

8. Independence. Many Deliberative people value autonomy above almost everything else.  They will not be receptive to being told what to do, what to think, or how to act.  In fact, they might be explosively reactive to such things.

9. Challenging. It may seem like they are often playing devil’s advocate, which, perhaps they are, but it isn’t for the sake of being difficult.  Instead, challenging the ideas of others is one of the ways that they develop a depth of understanding that they need to make a decision or take a stance.

10. Love. Deliberative folks are likely to hold out for the right person and then savor all of the various stages of human connection.  For them, the value is in developing an appreciation, an understanding, and, most of all, a level of authentic trust with others.  They will experience love like a ripening that cannot be rushed, lest it spoil.

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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 Happens When Woos Get Real


What Is the WOO Them

Those with the strength of Woo are the ‘people people’ in our lives.  They are, in a general sense, the classic extroverts of the world—the ones who talk to strangers everywhere they go, for example, and are energized by near-constant interaction for long periods of time.  While that is, in part, how they operate, the true spirit of the Woo goes much deeper; that is, they are not simply ‘outgoing’.  Instead, they are profoundly connected to the experience of meeting new people.  From there they establish rapport with them and then quickly work to develop a sense of flow and a feeling of friendship in their communication.  Woo is the only strength that is also an acronym, it stands for Winning Others Over, and it’s what they love to do.  They are deft conversationalists, intuitive listeners, and socially courageous people.  Even though they make it look easy, they enjoy the challenge of finding areas of mutual interest with others and, ultimately, becoming liked by them.  These are the people who make new friends while waiting for the elevator or standing in line at the grocery store; they are the ones who come home from their vacations with a phone full of new contacts.  It is simply their instinct to connect and they seem universally magnetized to others—they cannot help it and they cannot turn it off.  It is, in fact, energizing, refueling, and inspiring to them to meet someone who, the moment before, was an absolute stranger.  They remind us, in a way, that the world is as big or as small as we make it and that potential friends are everywhere if we choose to look for them by focusing on our similarities, not our differences

Why Should We Care

We can look to the Woos in our lives to show us how to keep an open mind socially, make the most of our interactions, explore new geographies, and intentionally seek out new experiences.  They have a generally contagious enthusiasm and can be the push we need sometimes to step out of our comfort zone when it comes to meeting new people.  They might be the life of the party or, in some cases, the ones who resuscitate it.  They never seem to run out of things to say or questions to ask—and their questions are generally solid and interesting.  In an effortless way, they draw people out, create an authentic point of shared interest, and dive in.  In short, they possess and expert level ability to connect with humans, plain and simple.  They are energized by the presence of others—the more the merrier mentality feels right at home with them.  And, meeting brand new people is particularly interesting to them, so we can count on them to break the ice and guide the mood and pace of first encounters.  Woos are somehow able to carry on three conversations simultaneously at a wedding reception with people they’ve only just met.  While interactions are sometimes brief, we walk away from conversations with them feeling like a real connection was established, a common ground was found, and that something dynamic and deeply human just occurred.

Ten Things to Know About People with WOO

1. Relationships. Woos may find that their connections to their significant others, BFFs, VIPs, and families actually deepen most through large group and social activities—as opposed to one-on-one scenarios.

2. Nature. If one were to compare them to a tree, folks with Woo have roots that naturally grow out as opposed to down—their networks generally grow wide as opposed to deep.

3. Presence. They love variety, and it is likely that they are keeping an eye on the entire room when talking to someone and gearing up for who they will talk to next before their current conversation is finished.  We are wise to learn to love them in this and not take it personally, because it is not personal, it is just who they are.

4. Compassionate Communication. They naturally understand the subtly and, therein, the power of tone in verbal conversation.  This makes them skillful and instinctive mediators, especially in tense and urgent situations.  In fact, they might really feel alive in the heat of disruption and chaos.

5. Novelty Seeking. Their drive for newness might not be limited to their interactions with people—Woos can be adrenalin junkies at heart who love a good thrill, a loud adventure, or an unexpected twist in the night’s activities.

6. Multitasking. They are great social multitaskers.  A Woo may effortlessly tell a joke, respond to a text message, and signal the waiter for the bill—all at once; they seem to always know the next right thing to say and have wonderfully evolved social instincts.

7. Stadiums. Crowds can be simultaneously enlivening and deeply soothing for them.  One of the ways that they feel connected to life is by being in the thick of things.  Getting swept up in the collective energy of a massive group can feel euphoric to them.

8. Inexhaustible. Being around others can be better than a cup of coffee for them.  Don’t be surprised if they choose to recharge their batteries after a long day with more social activity.

9. Talkative. They love to talk.  However, it’s generally not just to hear the sound of their voice, instead, Woos use conversation as a way of exploring possible points of connection.  They are, in that way, verbal processors, who experience a great portion of their lives through language and words.

10. Love. A grandiose gesture of affection every now and then is not likely to keep them feeling connected; daily activity and proactive interaction, however, will, as it gives them a sense of movement in their relationship.

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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 Restorative People


What Is the RESTORATIVE Theme

Restorative people are the ones in our lives who are naturally wired to identify a problem and then find its solution.  For them, it’s continuous and effortless—it’s a way of seeing the world—and their gears are always turning, asking, “How could this be improved?”  They are quick to assess situations and find what is working and, notably, what is not working.  At their core, they just love to solve problems.  It excites and fuels them to investigate, poke around, fix, and put action around better ways of doing things.  There is a specific creativity to their thinking in that they don’t generally produce brand new things, instead, they restore what already is.  This perspective extends to the whole world—including people, places, things, ideas, and systems.  Their focus is on making things better: discovering, resolving, guiding, and enhancing.  They are problem-identifying and solution-oriented—both—which means that don’t just point out what is broken, they fix it, too.  The problem itself is not where the value is for them: the solution is.  They have a definite worldview that is driven by curiosity and, ultimately, by an altruistic need to leave the world better than they found it

Why Should We Care

They are multi-dimensional, open-minded, and persevering people who see a type of potential in all that is and once was.  Their impulse is to return people, places, and things to relevance—restoring meaning and life to that which may have lost it.  They can put exact words around what is hanging up a situation; they can identify the particulars of the rut someone might be in in life; they can hone in on what is precisely going haywire.  In a concrete sense, they help us name the world’s problems—simple as that.  For, they see details that the rest of us cannot.  From there, they help us take action toward resolution and/or greater functionality, efficiency, and wellbeing.  Restorative people are gifted guides, generous advisors, and particularly honest collaborators.  With them, we can expect to go to the root of ideas, organizations, and systems and identify core causes.  They are highly aware and, in a way, have a huge capacity for compassion, in that their main and lasting focus is on improving conditions largely for all of us.

Ten Things to Know About People with RESTORATIVE

1. It’s Not Personal. For people with the strength of Restorative, it is simply their nature to notice where things are misfiring, broken, unaligned, and underperforming.  It isn’t personal, it just is.  For them, a problem means a solution, which is what really, truly lights them up.

2. Scrutiny. They bring their critical eye to everything they see and do—not to be rude, but because it’s how they understand the world.  It can seem like they are carefully inspecting even the most common objects and situations.

3. Misunderstood. Folks with this strength can be easily misunderstood—especially if this perspective is not developed intentionally.  Others can see them as nit-picky, negative, and disparaging, which is why it is powerful work for Restorative people to articulate the solution as well as the problem.

4. Authenticity. They hate to sugar-coat things.  For them, a problem is not a “bad” thing, in fact, it is a good thing because it opens the way to improvement.  So, they love to get straight to the point.

5. Sarcasm. Dark comedy and sarcasm generally resonate well with them.  They may even have a morbid sense of humor.

6. Obsessive. Once they’ve recognized a problem, they may not be able to do or concentrate on very much else until they’ve identified the solution.  They are generally not strangers to tunnel vision.

7. Mental Activity. Brainstorming can be incredibly life-giving to them, and it’s best when it has a practical bend to it.  Daydreaming or abstract ideating will not fill their cup the way solution-oriented thinking will.

8. Questions. They use questions as a way of deepening their understanding of a situation, which in turn deepens their ability to problem-solve.  At times, their line of questioning might seem strange, pushy, or mechanical; they are just looking for a way into the solution.

9. Seeking. Don’t be surprised if it seems like they might be seeking problems to solve.  It’s likely that they are.  The thing to remember, is that analyzing how the world might be made better is totally energizing, possibly even soothing to them.

10. Love. The world may have shut them down over time or degraded their view of things.  So, the phrase, “Can you help me with this problem?” may very well sound to them like “I see you, I respect you, and I, therefore, love you.”


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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.