Posted February 16, 2016 by James Van Roekel 

Colors, Strengths – What Does It All Mean?

I have been very fortunate to be able to spend my entire career in higher education. Up until about six years ago, I worked within the academic side of campus. Occasionally, I would hear conversations among my student services colleagues discussing colors and their associated strengths–blue, orange, yellow, green, intellection, ideation, belief … what?

We did not talk about these things in the academic departments I served in, but the concept struck me as interesting. It was not until I moved to student services that I had the opportunity to discover my colors and strengths. If you have not had the opportunity to complete a Clifton StrengthsFinder or Equilibria E-Colors self-assessment (there are others as well), I recommend doing so. These inventories are well worth the time investment as they give you a glimpse of your personality, how you process things, the angle in which you look at problems, how you interact with others, etc.

I did not see anything surprising in mine, but it is really useful to see these characteristics articulated in short descriptions. It can also be a bit funny as you read through the descriptions: “Yes, I totally do that!” However, for me, I have found the results to be most useful in conversations with colleagues, as I had heard previously. They help us to explain ourselves and understand each other.

For example, I have a colleague who tested very Blue on the Equilibria E-Colors model. She is amazing, but likes to discuss things way more than my Green personality would prefer. Likewise, because I tend to see in systems and understand what I think is the right answer, she becomes frustrated when I do not use enough words to articulate my thoughts. But because we know this, we understand where to give each other room to work through what we need within a global decision, project, and the like. As a result, we are more patient and work much better with each other. Others in my division will sometimes tease each other within projects with jabs like, “Just let Jack run with it for a while, he’s Orange (very creative).” It really is amazing to watch a group let others run with their colors and strengths.

I already mentioned that I am Green. A bit further, I am Green/Yellow and my Signature Strengths are Intellection, Consistency, Ideation, Maximizer, and Belief. This suggests that I am strongly analytical, objective, sociable yet not emotional, and “see the big picture.” What are your colors and strengths? Take the Equilibria E-Colors self-assessment for free at equilibria.com. The Clifton StrengthsFinder requires an access code so check if a department on your campus–human resources makes sense as your first stop–subscribes to the service and can provide one.
James Van Roekel

James Van Roekel is the Director of Student Affairs Technology at Sam Houston State University.

James has more than 18 years of higher education experience as a faculty member and administrator in academic and student affairs. His research, which can be found in 25 publications (including three books), and teaching focus investigates the utilization of free and off-the-shelf hardware and software toward the development of multimedia and digital applications in student learning. His grant writing has brought in more than $725,000 to engage faculty and students in current and emerging technologies. He is a member of EDUCAUSE, Infocomm International, and the Region II Leadership Team. James is a past recipient of SHSU’s Sammy Award and the Vice President's for Student Services Bearkat Spirit Award.

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