My coaching client discovered how Context helped him look back to live forward.

He was struggling in his current career role. He lost his health, happiness and confidence. His #1 StrengthsFinder talent theme was Context and he loved looking back, reminiscing on his wonderful childhood.  Collecting historical artifacts of the roaring 20’s – 30’s and memorabilia of Bonnie and Clyde also brought him immense joy.

To help him live forward, grow his confidence and decrease stress in his life he created a man cave in his home.

This private room where he would retreat represented his childhood and everything from history that he loved.  Surrounded with childhood photos, model cars, and Bonnie and Clyde memorabilia from the past energized his current life.

Understanding the Context Strength

Context is ranked 30th in the frequency rating of all 34 StrengthsFinder talent themes and is in my bottom five.  But I’ve had the privilege of coaching many people with context and these folks are especially talented in thinking about the past, understanding the history and using history to better make decisions going forward in today’s world. They love recalling memories and reading information about bygone days.

Context is a strategic thinking strength and is most likely paired with the talent theme of Input at .24 percent.  It is least likely paired with Command, Focus and Significance at .01 percent.

Words that describe people with context are historians, recorders, archeologists, and genealogists.  They love understanding and collecting the history of the past.

The Balcony of Context

Context helps us to not repeat the failures of history.  It helps us leverage the knowledge of the past so that we don’t constantly have to reinvent the wheel.

The Power is the ability to find wisdom for the present by looking into the past.
The Joy comes when problems are avoided in the future because of the knowledge of the past.
The Beauty is that history will bring the proper frame of reference in decision making.
The Hope is building a better future through a deep understanding of the past.

A therapist I was coaching to grow her therapy business loved using her context strength to learn about the history of people.  Her therapy relationships thrived when she asked questions such as how did you grow up, what was your birth order, what are significant memories from your childhood.

She loved learning her client’s past in order to help clients move forward in their lives today.

People with context, love to be retrospective and hate it when other people ignore the past.

Checking the rear view mirror is essential for safe driving and forward living.

The bible say’s in Deuteronomy 4:9, “Watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.  Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”

There’s a spiritual component of understanding your history, understanding your past, respecting your elders, and learning how to teach this to keep the story of history alive from one generation to another.

The Basement of Context

The basement side of context overused can make someone slow to move forward especially in change.

Overused Context could hold onto the negative memories of past relationship wounds. They may want to do it the way other people have done it in the past.

The barrier label is that people with Context can be stuck in the past and resistant to the future.

It’s a myth that people with context have a hard time looking at the future.  They tend to use their context as a way of looking to the future, though their preference is to use the rear view mirror first before looking through the windshield.

Contrasting the Context Strength

Context may say I naturally remember and revere what has been.
Futuristic says I naturally anticipate and imagine what could or should be.

Context may say I can proceed when I understand the history.  Focus will say I can proceed when the goal is clear.

Action items for the Context Strength

Read historical novels and biographies.
Discover and educate yourself as much as you can about a particular area of history that you love.
Gain mastery of a particular topic that is relevant to your career success.
Ask questions about people’s past to build better relationships with family and colleagues.
Place your favorite memorabilia from the past in your home and work place for inspiration.

Discovery Questions for Context

What are your favorite childhood memories?
What part of history to you find most intriguing?
How does your present connect to your past?
What other strengths can I partner with to bring out the best of my Context?
Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “When I want to understand what is happening today or try to decide what will happen tomorrow I look back.”

Leverage Context so you can look back to live forward!

About the author: Brent O’Bannon coaches individuals, teams, and organizations as the first GALLUP Certified Strengths Coach in the world.  He is an Amazon #1 Best Selling Author and you can learn more  at and


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