A Variety of Shapes {CliftonStrengths Non-Talents}

These cookie cutters were designed to fit neatly into a little round tin (see a picture of this in my previous post).  Together they provide variety and are well-rounded.IMG_20180618_153927356_BURST000_COVER_TOP

No one shape on its own can be a whole well-rounded circle!  Nor can it be any of the other shapes.  This is something we often struggle with!  We tend to wish we could do everything, or that we could be more like someone else.

A terrific way to discover our shape, including our talents and potential strengths, is with Gallup’s CliftonStrengths 34 assessment. It reveals not only your Top 5 Strengths Themes, but all of them.  The ones we use regularly are at the top, and they are in order down to #34.  The ones near the bottom are typically non-talents.

Non-talents simply don’t describe you!  They aren’t necessarily weaknesses, nor are they areas we need to work on.  We likely just need to let go of them.

Also, our non-talents describe someone else’s talents!  Ideally, we each live into our themes and partner together with people who have different talents.  That way, as a whole, we become well-rounded like the cookie cutters that fit into a round tin.

God has given us each different gifts to use, and services and activities to carry out.  He created us to work together like the different parts of a body (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).  But we often struggle with this:

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. ~1 Corinthians 12:14-20

When we don’t have a talent, we can be tempted to compare ourselves with others.  Pride causes us to focus on ourselves.  We either think better of ourselves than we ought to, or feel we are less than we truly are.  Comparison creates distance in our relationships, leading us to either see ourselves or the other person as less.  This breaks down love!

Sometimes we withdraw and disengage.  Out of hurt pride, we remove ourselves from the group because of feeling different.  By doing this, we withhold what other people need from us (like the nose sharing its sense of smell).

Sometimes we devalue other shapes.  We assume that our shape is best, because it’s all we have experienced.  Without perspective, our intuition tells us that all shapes should be the same – preferably like our shape.  We forget that we need people of other shapes: “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you'” (verse 21).

We have a great need to confidently understand who we are so we can share our shaping and talents, motivated by love for other people!

How can we live well in light of our non-talents?

  • Have a humble view of ourselves.  This way of thinking is honest about both our talents and non-talents.  When we’re humble, we can be confident to be our God-given shape, and be free to love and appreciate other shapes!
  • Communicate well by asking questions, listening, and sharing so we learn about each other.   This helps us learn about other people and how they’re shaped differently.  And this is tremendous for growing our relationships!
  • Partner with someone who has the themes we don’t have.  Then, work out a plan to partner with our differing strengths.
  • Learn skills or use systems to do what you need to when we have to do something we’re not talented at.  We can’t “get” Strengths Themes we don’t naturally have, but we can learn skills to do what we need to do.  (Such as calendars, lists, apps, or a learned habit).
  • If possible, avoid needing to use non-talents.  For example, if Restorative is #32 for you (a non-talent), you might not to take a job that regularly requires patience for fixing broken things.

Living into our strengths with humble confidence frees us to appreciate other people who are shaped differently than us.  We no longer need to compare ourselves, feel defensive, or devalue others.  Nor do we need to pressure ourselves, or others, to be something we’re not.

This frees us to love people and live fully into our strengths and shape!  As we do this, we will be able to have the greatest impact as we live and love well in the groups we’re part of.

God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. ~1 Corinthians 14:18


What part of the body has God shaped you to be?  What gifts and strengths can you share with confidence and motivated by love?

How have you compared yourself with other parts of the body?  How has that comparison affected you and your relationships?


Kathryn Featherstone is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and a board-certified Christian Life Coach. She’d like to encourage you in your journey! Write her a note or see her Coaching page.



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