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.

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  • Chad T. Ahern

Those Who Inspire [Me]

Each of us stands on the shoulders of those who came before us. Here are five* TED Talks that inspire my views on work, leadership, and Talent.


Daniel Pink

"There is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does."

This is probably one of my favorite lines from any TED talk. So often we make choices about how to treat people and situations based on anecdotal evidence or old business models. We should instead consider experimenting and tracking the data/performance.


I'm also a huge proponent of Dan's "big three" -- Purpose, Mastery, and Autonomy. When it comes to helping your colleagues and peers utilize our unique talents, keep the following in mind:

  • Purpose: help them utilize their unique gifts to fulfill their reason for living

  • Mastery: provide people opportunities to master their role, AND their understanding of their uniqueness.

  • Autonomy: provide the space for them to find their own path.

Stanley McChrystal

Just as the 21st century military is finding new approaches to new threats (e.g. decentralized command-and-control organizations and cyber-warfare), businesses and organizations need to rethink old management models.


What I appreciate about this talk is Gen. McChrystal's willingness to:

  • Breakdown old command-and-control systems when he realized it wasn't working

  • Build and listen to new networks of knowledgeable people, regardless of rank

  • Empower, and trust, those on the front lines to make mission critical decisions

  • Recognize the world is constantly changing and we must adapt

How can you take a similar approach to utilizing the unique skills, knowledge and talents of those in our own organizations to accomplish more?


Simon Sinek

I've, on occasion, picked up the moniker "the 'why' kid"; so imagine my delight when I found Simon Sinek advocating that "why" is the most important question we can ask.


Why do you exist? Why do you do what you do?


Our distinct talents can only be fully realized if we can understand why they are important and how they be useful in accomplishing our life's work.


Brene Brown

As each of us searches for connection -- whether at home or work -- we must keep in mind that we must be vulnerable. All of us must be willing to share our blessings and our faults so that we can live an authentic life.


In our organizations could this not be a deciding factor when we consider who we choose to be our organizational leaders?


Sir Ken Robinson

Okay, so my fifth favorite TED Talk actually comes in two parts. I love Sir Ken Robinson, and I think the lessons he points out regarding our educational system can also be applied to our work environments. In his 2006 talk he speaks about how our educational system kills creativity and pushes children to squander their unique talents. Robinson initially points out that "intelligence is diverse...dynamic....and distinct." The same can be said for our Talents.

  • Talent is diverse. According to Tom Rath (StrengthFinders 2.0) there are 34 distinct talents themes.

  • Talent is dynamic. As organizations change, the intersection of our combined Talents can bred new and better ideas.

  • Talent is distinct. With more than 7 billion people on the planet, each with their own story, Talents manifest in different proportions at different times in each of us.

This makes Robinson's follow up 2010 talk about the importance of "using our talents" all the more critical. The world of work is changing faster than ever before and it is making the old world of human management obsolete.

"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country." - Abraham Lincoln, 1862

Just as Abraham Lincoln spoke of the "old ways" when it came to slavery; we must realize that old command-and-control HR systems of the past are inadequate for the future of work. We must think anew and act anew by engaging our Talents in new ways as the world of work changes. We do not need reform but a revolution.

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