Like so many long-time clients, Santa appreciates a bit of coaching before a major event. After a few years of experimentation, we’ve finally found that it works best to have two pre-scheduled strengths coaching calls during the year. We normally connect at the beginning of THE MOST IMPORTANT MONTH (and most wonderful time) OF THE YEAR, December, and again in mid-June when things are less harried.
While the exact details of the entire coaching call with Santa are privileged information, Santa – a huge CliftonStrengths believer – encouraged me to share an excerpt from our conversation, with the hope that others could similarly use their strengths more intentionally to be successful when the stakes are high and top performance is imperative.
Santa, always interested in helping others, gave me the ok to share his “Top 5” strengths. In the past, I’ve been hesitant to share Santa’s strengths, for fear this information might be inferred to be “the ultimate gift-giver’s best strengths” but let’s never forget that being authentic is what really makes a difference – in strengths and in gift-giving. With that said, I’m sure you’ll quickly agree that Santa’s “Top 5” are fantastic strengths for the world’s most busy Christmas present procurer and deliverer: Individualization, Strategic, Woo, Relator, and Restorative.
SKR: Santa, so good to reconnect with you! Please give me an update on everyone.
Santa: Well, Donner and Blitzen have had a tough off-season. They’ve both had issues with their hooves (Donner’s right front and Blitzen’s left rear). We found some terrific specialty doctors who performed small surgeries on each of them. Since then, these two great reindeer have really dedicated themselves to their rehabilitation exercises and seem to be 100% – just in the nick of time.
Mrs. Claus and I took all of the elves on a cruise this summer. What a blast. They work so hard all year long and the 10-day cruise was just what they needed to relax and celebrate their amazing work. The best part was that there were so many different activities and options on the cruise that the elves could tailor each day to their own interests. Mrs. Claus and I really appreciated having some good individual time with the elves in a relaxed environment as well.
SKR: I see so many of your strengths at work in these stories, Santa. Of course, your Individualization strengths seem to motivate most of your actions. Whether you are finding each reindeer the best doctor or picking a vacation that allows individual expression for the elves, your #1 strength seems to always be at work. I know it’s hard for you and Mrs. Claus to get away, but it sounds as though you were able to strengthen your already strong bonds with the elves. I know those authentic relationships – Relator #4- are so critical to you.
Tell me, what’s been going on at the malls? Are there lots of long lines this year? Have you had any particularly interesting gift requests?
Santa: How I love meeting with all of these kids every year! It just gives me so much energy and excitement to hear all of their stories and, of course, learn what they really want for Christmas. I try not to look at the lines . . . I just want to be present for each precious child who makes his or her way up to my lap. It’s impossible to single-out the most interesting gift request, since I consider each request magical and important in its own right.
SKR: I love hearing your Woo and Individualization at work here. I’m amazed at your stamina but you actually gain energy by being at the mall and meeting all of these children. Wow.
Let’s talk logistics. Have you started checking weather patterns yet? Can you discuss your route?
Santa: HoHoHo, Sarah, you know I can’t reveal my route! However, I’ve been looking at weather patterns for the last few weeks. I get a lot of enjoyment out of considering the many possible ways to get these presents delivered on time and to the right house in the most effective and efficient way possible. I, honestly, cannot believe people consider it difficult. It’s a very intuitive process for me.
SKR: Santa, just about everyone I’ve ever talked to with Strategic seems to say something along the lines of “the multiple paths seem so obvious,” so I guess I’m not all that surprised by your response.
Ok, last question, what was your biggest obstacle or challenge last year, Christmas Eve 2017?
Santa: As you know, I’m a fixer. When I realize that a chimney has been bricked up, or that the front door is double latched and triple bolted, I always smile. In my mind, these are not problems – they are opportunities! Some people think that keeping the pets quiet during a delivery might be difficult. But I love pets! It’s great fun to meet so many friendly animals on the big night. I honestly cannot think of a big obstacle last year. As they say, “It’s all in a day’s – or I guess in this case – a night’s work.
SKR: This is a great example of how you use your Restorative strengths to address delivery challenges that pop up along your way. My guess is that, of your Top 5, Restorative might be a surprise to folks. However, year after year, you’ve shared some Houdini-like stories of how you got yourself and your big bag-full of gifts into a house that was locked up tighter than Fort Knox. I know you find that rewarding and fun.
Santa, just keep doing what you are doing! You are putting your strengths to great use. You never cease to amazing me and I know many other people feel the same way.
Santa: Sarah, thanks for reminding me of how I’m using my strengths during the busy season and throughout the year. I know a big part of why I love my job so much is that I get to flex my strengths every day!