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CEHD Strengths Spotlight | Sarah Covert, Career Coordinator

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At the University of Minnesota and in CEHD we feel every student has what they need to be successful. We believe in taking a strengths based approach and work with students to learn to use their talents so they can be developed into strengths.


What are your top 5 talent themes?
My top 5 talent themes are Empathy, Maximizer, Harmony, Developer, and Individualization.


In what ways do you use your talents each day?
Most of my talent themes work well together during career counseling appointments with students. Empathy allows me to sense what others may be feeling. It allows me to provide understanding and use the appropriate emotional tone in an appointment. Maximizer is helpful because I naturally look for strengths in others and encourage them in those areas. When meeting with a student, I genuinely enjoy sharing everything they are doing well and then focus on those strengths to manage other areas. Developer allows me to see the potential in others. By seeing this potential and sharing it with students, it builds their confidence and encourages them to work a little harder to achieve that next step. And through Individualization, I love to listen to students tell their story and learn what makes them unique.

Maximizer & Harmony are helpful when working as part of a team/committee to improve programs, events, and communications for students. Maximizer allows me to build on what's been done and make it even better and Harmony helps me see connections and areas of agreement.


How have you worked to develop your talent themes?
Speaking with others about how their talent themes emerge in their life has helped me become more self-aware about how they emerge in mine and develop them further.

During a recent Strengths presentation, I learned Donald Clifton, father of strengths based psychology & creator of Clinton StrengthsFinder, once said it can take a lifetime to master just five talent themes. In many cases, my individual talent themes are productively applied turning them into strengths. However, it's also important to understand the blind spots within each talent theme and learn how to individually manage them in a way that brings out your best.

For example: Maximizer, in addition to seeing the strengths in others, allows me to see strengths in programs, events, or presentations. Then Developer comes in to help me see what they could become. It's very satisfying for me to improve...well, anything. However, sometimes that can become overwhelming. I'm learning now when it's best to step away and accept that it's good enough.


Which talent themes fit you best and why?
They all fit me pretty well. Empathy is my first talent theme and definitely did not surprise me. After taking the assessment it was so helpful to finally have language to better articulate this "sensitivity" I always knew I had and use it as a tool in many areas of my life. Harmony, comes out in my relationships and, surprising to some, my surroundings. I feel at peace when I'm in a space that is uncluttered, has plenty of light, and generally feels good to be in. Individualization makes me absolutely fascinated by other people's stories. I love learning how others view their own life experience and draw meaning from those experiences.


What surprises you about your talent themes?
I've taken the assessment twice. The first time I had responsibility in my top five. Responsibility allows you to take psychological ownership of anything you commit to do. The second time it dropped and Individualization emerged. Since then, it's been interesting to see how responsibility continues to greatly influence me, even though it dropped out of my top five.


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