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The Sideline Blog

Just as sports players come to the sideline for rest and guidance, this blog is meant to provide you some insight and guidance as you explore your Strengths journey.

Gallup®, CliftonStrengths®, and the 34 theme names of CliftonStrengths® are 
trademarks of Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved.

  • Writer's pictureChad T. Ahern

Strengths Defined

Chatting with business connections and potential clients, I've come to realize how much a proper appreciation of certain terms can be to building understanding and future success with a strengths-based coach.

Since many people have different definitions of the words - skills, knowledge, talents, and strengths - I thought it helpful to outline how Strengths-based coaches (myself included) define and apply these important terms. For those who want to learn more, I strongly suggest the book "First, Break All the Rules", which was recently re-released by Gallup, as it is the source and/or inspiration for what follows.


Refers to activities that can be taught, practiced, and improved. Some examples might be typing, cooking, cutting wood, writing, reading, calculation, etc.


This your "book learning"; the information that you pick up in school, read about in books, the internet, or "from the experts". This is your who, what, when, and where....and sometimes why. The knowledge of when and where WWII battles occurred. That putting pure sulfur in water isn't going to end well. The principles of physics. This is the information that can be written down and transferred between individuals or groups.


My favorite, and best definition of "Talent" is that "they are the four-lane highways in our minds; those that carve recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior". Of course, with so many people in the world and so many professions, it would be hard to capture and talk about all the possible talents that exist in the world. Through Gallup's research, they've identified 34 talent themes. These serve as a primary starting point in understanding Strengths. The really cool part of it is that each and every one of us possesses all 34 talent themes.


In short, a Strength is a Talent on steroids. ​Gallup defines a Strength as a Talent that has been combined with skills, knowledge, and concerted practice. Since all of us have all 34 talents, your Strengths are those talents that are most dominant and thus show up at the top of your StrengthsFinder report. Most Strengths-based coaches will encourage you to pay close attention to your Top 5 or Top 10.

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