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  • Writer's pictureWill Campbell

The Mathematics of Strengths

Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best everyday? For many of us the answer is "no". This is the basis of the Gallup organization's work around Strengths. Gallup defined Strengths, mathematically, as product of talent and investment. But knowing what your Strengths are is only one part of a much larger equation. So, you identify what you're good at - now what? How do you get started? What other things might be in the way? Can you even identify other things that might get in the way?

There are many organizations that have spent many, many years on answering those questions and more. But none that have completely satisfied my personal curiosities. InsideOut Development presented a simple concept that described performance in terms of capacity and interference. I thought this was closer to something that made sense to me - but still didn't hit the mark. So, the engineer in me decided to take over and see if it was possible to simplify things - reduce things and/or combine things. Then... EUREKA!!!! Why not combine the equations??? What follows is my labor of love and understanding:


Strength = Talent x Investment (from StrengthsFinder 2.0)[i]


Performance = Capacity – Interference (from InsideOut Coaching)[ii]

if, Capacity ≈ Talent; where the following definitions hold:


a: a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude

b: general intelligence or mental power : ability


a: an individual's mental or physical ability : aptitude, skill

b: the faculty or potential for treating, experiencing, or appreciating <capacity for love>


Strength = Capacity x Investment

Capacity = Strength/Investment

Performance = (Strength/Investment) – Interference

Insight ==> Performance is reduced by Interference

Insight ==> The elimination or reduction of Interference leads to increased Performance

Performance x Investment = Strength – Interference x Investment

Insight ==>Any Investment is also a multiplier of any present Interference

Insight ==> Strength is always reduced by the factor (Interference x Investment) and, again, Performance is reduced.

However, if Interference = 0; then Performance x Investment = Strength

Insight ==> Investment is a true multiplier of Performance

Insight ==> Strength is increased, always, by any positive Investment

So what??? What does that all mean? We now have a mathematical expression that illustrates how investing in your performance may yield a strength - assuming that you actually like the thing you're doing. In other words, focusing on what you love to do will pay off. There is also an implication that any present interference or uncertainty or confusion is also multiplied by any investments. So, to get to where you really want to be - you should minimize interference as much as possible. By having a clear vision of what you want and where you want to be is a key component of doing what you do best everyday.

[i] Based on a 40-year study of human strengths, Gallup created a language of the 34 most common talents and developed the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment to help people discover and describe these talents.

[ii] InsideOut Development provides training programs and coaching services, team performance workshops, consulting, and reinforcement solutions to a large global clientele. Founded over 25 years ago, InsideOut is best known for developing manager-as-coach skills through our ICF and HRCI accredited flagship-training program, InsideOut Coaching.

[iii] Definition from

[iv] Definition from

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