Talent Ought-ism: the Reflect Talents

faultline reflect Jan 31, 2023
Coworker meeting

The Three Fault Lines expose our faulty thinking in relating and working with others. The first Fault Line states that we grow up believing “everyone thinks the way I do.” Most of us come to a reckoning with the fallacy of this Fault Line as we mature. As we experience a greater scope of life and people, we realize that not everyone thinks the way we do, and it is unreasonable to expect that they would. But subconsciously, we might subtly modify this Fault Line to “Everyone should think the way I do.”

One dynamic of the CliftonStrengths assessment is that it not only exposes the short-sightedness of this thinking but provides a language to understand and appreciate the different ways we are all wired to think. Since the odds of another person having your Top 5 talents in the same order is one in 33 million, the odds are just as great that others will not think exactly the same way you do.

The four CoreClarity quadrants give us another layer of insight to how talent bias can feed the faulty thinking we have. When we have a strong concentration of talents in a quadrant it can form a bias that leads to other forms of “Everyone should” thinking that I call Talent Ought-ism. According to the dictionary, the word “ought” indicates duty or correctness, typically when criticizing someone's actions. Adding “-ism” to a root makes it a distinctive practice, system, or philosophy.

In the next four blogs, we’ll be looking at how a concentration of talents in one CoreClarity quadrant can lead to certain “Ought-isms” in people’s thinking. This month we’ll look at how people with a deep anchor of talents in the Reflect quadrant can fall into the Ought-ism of “Everyone should think the way I do.”

If we fill a room with smart, educated, intelligent people we expect brilliant results. But we also may see the effects of the “SPITR” syndrome, or “Smartest Person in the Room.” Some may struggle to get everyone else to think like them or affirm that their intellectual processing is the best choice. Those with problem solving talents are pushing for others to see their way to solutions. Others heavy in research talents want everyone to see the need for more data or information, while the creatives in the room are appalled by the lack of imagination around them.

Eric’s Strategic, Futuristic and Learner made him a very forward-thinking Reflector. He could amass an inordinate amount of research and quickly synthesize his epiphanies into applications and action plans. At one meeting he cajoled the team he led to reach a conclusion that was very obvious to him. “Look everyone -- the answer is right there in plain sight!” After a few seconds of awkward silence a team member said, “You are right, it is in plain sight…for you. Eric, this kind of processing is second nature for you but none of us here think that way or as quickly as you do.” Eric was able to receive this input and recognize that he was stuck in the First Fault Line of “Everyone thinks the way I do.”

So how do we move out of our Reflect Ought-isms? It starts with the awareness that we are doing it, and then flipping the question from “Why aren’t people thinking like me?” to “How can I understand and value how others are thinking?

Next month we’ll explore the potential Ought-isms of people with a concentration of Energize talents.