Andres Amador and Kelsi Anderson of Elemental Arts and I met two years ago at one of their community sand art events. Over fifity people came to create art in the sand with a little rake and one giant canvas, Ocean Beach, San Francisco. There were some self -proclaimed “artists” in the group, yet for the most part the most common conversation I had was about how we did not think we had any artistic talent. Little did we know we had so many talents, infact, our talents came shining through on the sand.
Last week, Andres, Kelsi and I met on the beach again. This time we hosted a team’s offsite retreat on the beach together. The team came to explore their strengths finder results and create art in the sand. I kept looking for the through-line of talent and sand art as we planned the retreat. I asked myself…what’s the best way to help people see their talents and strengths in this amazingly creative process?
The group arrived at the beach and it was unseasonably cold, with high surf, and 20-30 mph gusts. Everyone huddled close to hear directions and stay warm. Slowly, each person walked with a rake creating a line, curve, square, shadow, and circle. The elements of sand art began to emerge. My role was to help them see their talents and strengths while creating. They had all taken the Gallup Strengths Finder Assessment prior to the event and knew their results.
As I stood watching people rake, I wondered if they would see their talents while they were creating sand art. As I looked at each person, I caught myself saying….just trust their talents.
Slowly, I started to see their talents and strengths unfold on the beach. Their talents translated beautifully. People talented at:
- Seeing the parts and the whole; were outstanding at guiding people in their small group designs to look at the details and the whole piece.
- Noticing balance and imbalance in relationships and systems, were exceptional at creating sand mandalas.
- Completing tasks, these people ensured every design element was completed efficiently.
- Seeing the world with the glass half full, for this group of people the wind and cold wasn’t a problem, it was a great day.
- Planning and thinking before jumping into a project, a select group of thoughtful creators crafted beautiful designs together.
As we finished, Andres launched his drone so we could see the creations from the sky. All of the sudden, the team saw their talents in action in their amazing sand creations. We were all artists and we had brought our different talents to the process of creating.
Sometimes we don’t know where our talents will take us. I learned to just trust that no matter where we are, when people are given the opportunity to be their best selves, talents come shining through.
Teams that work with their strengths are known to have significantly “more great days at work.” I’ll admit, not every day at work is going to be as great as a day at the beach. Yet, I can see that if we bring our best selves to an opportunity, we can trust that our talents will show the way.