What a fun – and strong – way to start 2014! After delivering Strengths Finder workshops to employees in companies across the US for the last couple years, I was thrilled to conduct my first session for kids aged 10-14 and their parents on January 25th. We all had a great time.

Purposely titled “Cultivating a Strengths-Based Life,” I wanted to offer this workshop to kids and their parents so they could work together in establishing a life for the child that is centered around their strengths – those things that truly embolden, self-motivate, and bring joy. With 11 kids in attendance, they first took the online Clifton Strengths Explorer assessment to determine their top three budding strengths. The two-hour Saturday session then took the parent-kid duo through a series of guided activities designed to “spot” these strengths in current and past situations. Then, the group brainstormed how the kids could find opportunities to further develop these strengths into real talents in the future. Of course we incorporated some creative expression into the session when the kids illustrated their three strengths in a poster for explanation to the class and later home display.

It was a joy for me to hear kids express what they got from the workshop – greater self-awareness, self-confidence, and a new-found understanding that they were a special and unique human being with strengths they had not previously identified as such. Parents reported coming away with a deeper understanding of their children, a new appreciation of them, and a resolve to help them develop the strengths into talents that can be further expressed scholastically and professionally later on.

As for me, well, I spent the morning “in gratitude,” as my friend Kimberly Davis says about her experience conducting sessions with her participants – hopelessly appreciative that somehow I have managed to do work that expresses who I am, that capitalizes on my own strengths, and allows me meaningful connection. Not a bad way to start the year …