Most people have a hard time describing their strengths. And I’m not talking about your knowledge or your skills – I’m talking about your core personality traits that make you stand out.
On the other hand, identifying weaknesses is all too easy. It’s true. We have been trained to know our weaknesses and to focus on correcting them. From when we first enter school to now performing our job duties, we spend WAY more time trying to fix what we’re not good at, rather than on our natural talents.
So what are your natural talents? I had a fairly good idea of a couple of mine, and so I read Tom Rath’s book StrengthsFinder 2.0 to see what else I could learn about myself.
Here’s what Tom says:
In 1998, I began working with a team of Gallup scientists led by the late Father of Strengths Psychology, Donald O. Clifton. Our goal was to start a global conversation about what’s right with people.
We were tired of living in a world that revolved around fixing our weaknesses. Society’s relentless focus on people’s shortcomings had turned into a global obsession. What’s more, we had discovered that people have several times more potential for growth when they invest energy in developing their strengths instead of correcting their deficiencies.
Based on Gallup’s 40-year study of human strengths, we created a language of the 34 most common talents and developed the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment to help people discover and describe these talents.
I loved this concept, so I dug right in and absorbed this quick-read of a book, took the online assessment, and learned that my top 5 strengths and corresponding insights are:
- Relator – People count on you to simplify things that are vague and abstract. By nature, you have the ability to instruct, train, or offer suggestions to people who look to you for assistance.
- Achiever – You normally dedicate yourself to acquiring knowledge and gaining skills. You yearn to dedicate yourself to worthy causes or noble purposes. You take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.
- Futuristic – By nature, you may be viewed as innovative and an original thinker. Your ability to generate options causes others to see there is more than one way to attain an objective. You refuse to be distracted by what you cannot do.
- Discipline – By nature, you spend a great deal of time researching your ideas. You are delighted when everyone in a group adopts your methodical procedure. It is very likely that you double check your work.
- Individualization – You guide the exchange of information by drawing out the singular perspectives of everyone involved. You automatically compliment those who freely share their knowledge, skills, or talents. Instinctively, you gain satisfaction when you can be of some service to others.
WOW, these rang so true for me! Discipline was not much of a surprise, but Achiever and Futuristic?! At first I was leary of how accurate it was, but then as I read more and more about each one, it made so much sense. And not in a horoscope kind of way. This was developed by Gallup, folks. It’s supported fully by research.
Along with each of these strengths, I received 10 ideas for action. Here’s a sampling:
- Relator – I need to proactively put myself out there, so others will quickly see the genuine individual that I am. I’m doing this with my blog!
- Achiever – I need to launch initiatives and new projects, and attach timelines and measurement to goals. I’m working on launching something as we speak! Achieving “No Regrets” also fits here.
- Futuristic – I need to read extensively to gain knowledge that will fuel my imagination, seek audiences who appreciate my ideas for the future, and partner with someone with strong Activator talents. Oh my gosh, I read ALL THE TIME, I crave learning, and my husband is an Activator!
- Discipline – I need to discover situations in which time or money is being wasted because of inefficiency, and create systems or procedures to improve efficiency. This has always come naturally to me and was an inherent part of my former financial and process analyst positions.
- Individualization – I need to help identify areas where one size does not fit all, relate my topic to the experiences of others, and help others understand that true diversity can be found in the subtle differences between each individual. I have always said that the world would be a very boring place if we were all exactly the same. This is true to my heart as well, since I’m a champion for my cousin Justin, who has Down syndrome.
Tom Rath says that when you’re not in your “strengths zone”, you’re quite simply a very different person. You may dread going to work, treat your customers poorly, achieve less on a daily basis, and have fewer positive and creative moments. Gallup’s research shows that operating in your “strengths zone” has shown to improve your confidence, direction, hope, and kindness toward others. Sounds good to me.
Find out what makes you stand out. Determine the role in which you naturally excel. Invest more time in the areas where you have the most potential for greatness. Build on who you already are. Grab the opportunity to do what you do best, every day. Extraordinary growth can happen as a result.
What an outstanding book – it’s in my top 5 for sure.
Here is what I suggest you do:
- Get the book StrengthsFinder 2.0
- Read the first 31 pages.
- Go to www.strengthsfinder.com, login using your unique access code (found in the back of the book), and answer the questions. It will take you about 30 minutes.
- Read the applicable sections in Part II of the book, Applying Your Strengths, now that you are armed with the 5 areas where you have the greatest potential.
- Go back to the website and download your customized Strengths Insight and Action-Planning Guide.
- Change your life – invest more time in these 5 areas.
Have you read StrengthsFinder 2.0, or are you planning to? I would love to know your top 5 strengths.