How to best discover your strengths at SHSU

Photo courtesy of Jo Szczepanska on

As the latest in a long line of leadership initiatives, SHSU Leadership Initiatives recently held a workshop titled “Discover Your Strengths,” where students were given the opportunity to evaluate areas where they excel as well as areas that could use improvement. The event took place Feb. 15 from 3:30-5:00 p.m. in LSC 242.

After registering for the workshop, students received a link to the CliftonStrengths assessment, an online test owned by the Gallup organization that uncovers the top five strengths of the individual in question out of 34 possible strengths. Students are then given in-depth feedback as to what those strengths mean in the form of an insight report.

Leadership Initiatives Program Specialist of this semester’s first “Discover Your Strengths” session Gabby Sauceda, identified the Leadership Initiatives’s main goal of the session was to create a space like for all students at Sam Houston.

“One of our main goals is for them to really identify with the themes that they received,” Sauceda explained. “We do typically have someone that doesn’t really fully understand maybe one or two of their strengths. In those instances, our goal is really for them to define their strengths in their own words, but then also be open minded to maybe the strengths that may be different than theirs.”

During the session, students were given the chance to discuss what they learned about themselves by taking the CliftonStrengths assessment. Students spoke of which strengths they agreed or disagreed with, Sauceda herself sharing she disagreed with three of her own when she took it.

Of the five students in attendance, none felt their strengths did not represent them. Through an activity packet that followed along with a PowerPoint presentation, students took the time to define the themes they were given in their own words and identify their strong points outside of the formal themes that some previously did not consider strengths, such as confidence or note taking.

One of Sauceda’s own top strengths is individualization. According to the Gallup website, people with the strength of individualization, “instinctively observe each person’s style, each person’s motivation, how each thinks and builds relationships.”

Sauceda went into detail about how this trait allows her to help others realize what they can do in sessions like “Discover your Strengths.”

“This deals a lot with my personal strengths…really seeing someone with where they’re at and what their current capabilities are and utilizing them in a way to not only just define the themes that they were given in the assessment but practically applying them to things that they have set for themselves,” Sauceda said.

Attendees were meant to walk away with the perception that their strengths were tools more than anything. Sauceda has personally witnessed the results that can be yielded from a workshop like this one.
“The department had another program specialist once upon a time,” Sauceda said. “She took CliftonStrengths because she was on academic probation and whatever university she was at required her to do strengths in order to be enrolled in school still. “She took CliftonStrengths, she really worked with the themes that she received, was going through some coaching sessions in order to apply them and now she’s gone on to achieve her Master’s.”

All in all, Sauceda feels she achieved her goal of helping students who attended to really see themselves. In her own words there’s non-verbal feedback, a “lightbulb” that goes off when things start to make sense for them, one of her favorite things about these sessions.

“I think my favorite thing is either people hearing other people’s strengths, because it’s really rare again to have someone in the same room with the exact same strengths as you, or having people realize that they have the capabilities already within themselves to be successful,” Sauceda said.

“Discover Your Strengths” is only half of the fun. At the end of the semester, students who attended will have the opportunity to attend a deeper session where they will do more activities targeting strengths due to the first session focusing more on context. It is Sauceda’s belief that experience and understanding strength go hand in hand.

“I think experience is the best teacher; sometimes really harsh, sometimes really fun,” Sauceda said. “You can learn a lot by interacting and listening to others and that will allow you to shape different views and opinions in order to really build your own leadership philosophy to move forward in.”

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