The rarest strength in American women and the second rarest in American men, Self-assurance® has been the talent that took me the longest to fully understand as a coach. Many might find that understandable because it is so uncommon. But, it is my #3! As a Gallup®-certified strengths coach, one would hope it would be easier for me to understand my own top 5! Alas, even coaches struggle with their own strengths some times.


When a strength is so much a part of who we are, it can be like the nose on our face. It is there, every day, in the middle of our head, but we can not see it. In fact, personal reflection is NOT what helped me learn about my own strength. I learned by witnessing it in others and through the person who knows me best, my mother. Note: I recommend these self-awareness building tactics to anyone else trying to better understand their own talents, too.


Self-assurance® refers to a strong internal compass. It is not always easy to spot in others because, depending on its accompanying talents, it can be loud or quiet. It can also be internally-focused, externally-focused, or both. People with Self-assurance® have the confidence in themselves to take on risks, make decisions, and deliver no matter the consequences. In fact, most people with the talent can pinpoint traumatic obstacles overcome in childhood due to their willpower. The quintessence of this strength can be found in Christiane Amanpour.

She is a powerful reporter, businesswoman, and thought leader. Her ascent to fame was most notably marked by her fearless forays into war-torn countries to report stories from the frontlines. When asked, “would you like to go into a war zone?” Most people would say, “No thanks. Not today.” If it impacts their work or loved ones, someone with Self-assurance®, like Amanpour, would say, “when?” There is no thought, emotion, or decision. It is completely instinctual. It is their internal compass responding to the situation. The alternative to be second-rate at your job and fail at acquiring the important story was not even an entertainable option for Amanpour.


The Self-assurance® basement is not realizing it is a rare strength and that very few other people operate in this instinctual, fearless manner. This makes it difficult to relate to others and for others to relate to the Self-assurance® person.


Case and point: Christiana Amanpour commenting on the gender confidence gap at a conference in 2014. In a nutshell, she responded by saying she always had confidence, there was never anything she could not do, the confidence gap is hooey, and, now, everyone just needs to be like her—self-assured (


This is a classic strengths mistake! While it may work for the possibly 5% of people in the room with Self-Assurance®, like me, it does not work for the other 95%. Telling others to just take on your talent does not work to their talents. Many of the 34 talents respond strongly to fear and would be better suited to different strategies in increasing their confidence.


I also know this mistake well because I have lived it. My whole life, it has been difficult for me to understand why people make decisions out of fear. (Granted, I’ve made some dumb decisions that could have benefitted from some fear, like flying to live in Cuba for 3 months without knowing anyone there.) Lucky for me, my often-fearful mother would kindly remind me, “you were blessed with confidence.” It was her way of prodding my self-awareness, escape from the basement, and empathy for others.


I hope this helps to decipher the enigma of yourself or other self-assurant people in your life. To better understand them, start an honest dialogue about fear and willpower. It could be enlightening!


Note: this gender gap also hits on another misnomer that frequently pops up in retreats– differences in gender. Now, there are certainly socio-economic gender gaps. I am not laying any claim to those. But, often people ask if there are “men strengths” or “female strengths” and the answer is no. There may be some that occur more frequently in men or women, but it is impossible to predict someone’s strengths based on their gender. Moreover, to generalize that men act differently than females (or vice versa) contradicts CliftonStrengths research. Each individual has a unique set of strengths that factor into personality and actions. These strengths are independent of gender.


Clifton StrengthsFinder® is a registered trademark of Gallup, Inc. The non-Gallup information you are receiving has not been approved and is not sanctioned or endorsed by Gallup® in any way. Opinions, views, and interpretations of Clifton StrengthsFinder® are solely the beliefs of Stronger Not Harder.