When I met Josh Allan Dykstra, my family was struggling, and I didn’t know why.
My husband Ken and I have worked in human development for over three decades. We cultivate workplaces where people are involved, valued, and respected. Since we’re both passionate about our work, we talk about it a lot at home and have always shared our successes and failures with our daughter, Jenna.
Ken and I have high expectations for our family and clients. After all, you can’t have high performance without high expectations. During our leadership workshops, participants would sometimes ask Jenna — sitting in the back of the room — what it was like to be the child of high-performance parents. To our surprise, she said she was often grounded because she fell short of those lofty expectations. While she delivered it with a half-smile, the line reflected her frustration with our intensity.
When it was time for Jenna to choose a career, Ken and I were delighted that she said she wanted to continue our work and take a job in human resources. We were proud that we had passed on our passion for healthy workplaces. We also expected that we had passed on our value for high-performance work; e.g., get to work early, leave late, work weekends if needed — always, always do your best. Be thorough. Be detailed. Always follow through. Do whatever it takes to do the job and do it well.
We’ve always been a close family, but tension developed when Jenna didn’t spend long hours — like we had — developing her career. To us, it seemed like she was inexplicably unconcerned about those measures we had always used to define excellent work. We valued total absorption with the job. She did not. We saw that as laziness and lack of ambition. Confusion gave way to irritation, which devolved into disappointment and anger. We were offended that what we taught our teams — to be passionately dedicated to their work — had not rubbed off on our own daughter. She attended our workshops. She said she wanted to continue our work. Where was the disconnect?!
Then, through the Positive Business Conference, I met Josh and learned about the Strengthscope® assessment. The idea of measuring not only our strengths but our energizers and motivators seemed to fit into our private consulting work. I wanted to involve our team in the initial assessment and, on a whim, added Jenna to the test, in hopes of uncovering the cause of our disconnect. When we saw the results of our family’s Significant Seven Strengths and Energizers, we were stunned. Jenna’s chart was the complete opposite of mine and my husband’s.
It was as if Ken and I could finally see Jenna for who she was — not who we thought she should be. Our “Bingham Family Blueprint” for how to start your career didn’t apply to her. She had different strengths. Different motivators. Different energizers. What was good for us was not good for her. And it was time we respected that.
I felt so badly for being critical, but we couldn’t change the past. All we could do was move forward with a new understanding of our daughter. And thankfully, we did. Today, Jenna works with our consulting team. She excels in sales, which is great, because I’m drained by anything sales-related. She’s also leveraging her energizers to advance our work in new directions we didn’t know were possible. And most importantly, I get to work alongside my daughter as she flourishes on a path very different from what I had planned. I love seeing her succeed not because she’s emulating me, but because she’s being true to herself. What could make a mother prouder?
Strengthscope® allows people to see — and accept — that we’re all different, and that pursuing what you love and are good at is unique to each individual. Strengthscope® taught us to face who we are, intrinsically and energetically, and how to maximize those differences, bringing us — as a team and a family — to new levels of high-energy, positive performance. Our differences make us stronger, and from that strength grows true success.
Sue Bingham, founder and principal of HPWP Consulting, has been at the forefront of the positive business movement for 30 years. She’s driven to create high-performing workplaces by partnering with courageous leaders who value the contributions of team members.