“Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.”

Lisa See

Growing up as a teenager, words flowing on a page were never an issue for me, quite the contrary. It was more like too many words without any reason. With #2Connectedness and #3Ideation, what was going on inside the head was way too fast to write on a page. Amalgamating thoughts, processing them and then converting them to an English essay was near impossible. 

High school English – FAIL.

Obviously I was unaware of my talents and at that age had hardly developed them into strengths. Adding to #2 and #3 above, #7Communication yearned for the ability to talk the ideas out loud and hear them. A opportunity rarely accepted in an English exam scenario.

To clarify, I was a fairly good student, however my strengths lay more in the numerical based subjects – maths, physics, tech drawing etc. My English teacher was the football coach and we got along well, so no excuses there. I read all the literature and attended all classes, but something just didn’t fit well. There was never enough time to write essays in an exam situation. There was no structure. Thinking back, in the final exam, we were required to write three essays in two hours. I failed to finish one! There were three unfinished pieces of writing which made little sense, offering very little hope of a pass.

Similar to our Udemy Course video (although opposite subjects), leading up to the final exams, the study was focused so heavily on my lesser subject, English. Yet still I did not pass. To make matters worse my stronger subjects were neglected and the marks received did not reflect my ability. Even more damage was done to my overall results due to focusing on that lesser subject, my weakness, English.

Did this effect my life?

Initially, no, I had no aspirations to go to university and like so many 17 year olds on the planet, had no clue what I wanted to do in life. Until about 10 years later, after backpacking overseas, I decided to return home and join the airforce. Problem? The English grades were not high enough to be accepted. So, at about 28/29 years of age I chose to return as a mature age student to redo high school English.

With 10 years real life experience, my vocabulary had increased, critical analysis improved and general skills and understanding enhanced. However, my ability to write an essay had not. Where would I have improved those skills?

This is when I asked my great friend (and now partner) Nicole Feledy, who just happened to be a high school English teacher, for English tutelage. At this point in both our lives, neither of us had been introduced to the Clifton StrengthsFinder® and were not privy to our Clifton Strengths. Although as a well skilled teacher, Nic was very familiar with understanding a students abilities and pairing them with methods to improve their studies.

Quickly recognising I was far better at Math than English, she devised a mathematical formula to apply to essay writing. We called it the 5×5 formula.

Looking back it seems so simplistic and to some, will read it and think, doesn’t everyone know that’s how you write English essays? But I didn’t, and can assure you there are still kids out there unable to write an English essay.

What is the 5×5 formula?

It’s simply, each essay should consist of five paragraphs, with five sentences in each paragraph. In each essay there should be one introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs and a concluding paragraph. Similarly, there should be one introductory sentence, with three body sentences and a concluding sentence in each paragraph.


Mathematical English Essay writing, how brilliant. It fed my strengths, gave me energy in a subject I struggled in and allowed me to have belief in my ability to both write English essays and pass the English exam. Yes I passed. No Hollywood movie ending though, where I topped the class and went on to become a Top Gun pilot. I didn’t even join the Airforce (a story for another day).

Point being, it’s all about focusing on strengths. When we know our strengths it makes life a lot simpler. Although, sometimes we need the guidance of others. Like an English teacher, or mentor or even a coach. It is just so fortunate to be able to identify our natural talents, as per the Clifton StrengthsFinder and give a name to each of these strengths. It is by far the best thing I have ever done in my life and would recommend it to anyone. Just to know why I do things the way I do and how I can do them better is the dream of any #1Maximiser.

If you want to learn more about your strengths, you may want to start by reading what 34 strengths coaches had to say about each of their strengths. How to Reduce Stress and Create Success. Any questions, queries or insights simply leave a comment below.


Hi, Pam here from sunny Qld, Australia. 

After recently completing the Clifton Strength Finder assessment, I used How to Reduce Stress & Create Success to discover and understand more about my top 5 strengths. 

I found the book exceptionally helpful in developing a better understanding of my strengths, in particular how to maximise their power to help me become more successful in both my personal and professional life.

If you’re considering undertaking the Clifton Strengths Finder assessment, then I highly recommend you get a copy of this book for reference purposes.  I’m sure I’ll refer back to the information I found many times over.

Pam Stellema

Strategic, Individualization, Relator, Analytical, Futuristic

Thank you for your kind words Pam.

And remember, focus on your strengths.

*Disclaimer – These videos and the Focus On Your Strengths course are entirely developed by Choose Your Chapter and are NOT products of Gallup nor the Clifton StrengthsFinder. We would like to acknowledge Gallup and the CSF for their data and research tool which allows us to help spread the word to focus on our strengths. Clifton StrengthsFinder ® and StrengthsFinder ® and each of the Clifton StrengthsFinder theme names are trademarks of Gallup, Inc. Choose Your Chapter are not affiliated with Gallup, Inc or its subsidiaries.

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    The Focus On Your Strengths Udemy course and companion guides were written, designed and produced by Danny Crouch and Nicole Feledy. The best Gold Coast Business Coach, best Gold Coast Life Coach,  best Gold Coast Strengths Coach, best Gold Coast keynote speaker.