Book Review: Strengths Finder 2.0
You cannot be anything you want to be — but you can be a lot more of who you already are.
That is the crux of Strengths Finder 2.0. Play to your strengths.
Except the book does not assume it, nor you, know what your strengths are, so it provides an assessment. Each book is sold with a piece of paper folded into the back that contains a unique access code. The introduction gives you the science behind the Strengths Finder methodology, Gallup data and some real-world examples and then asks you to take the online assessment before reading the rest of the book.
Taking the assessment is key as the rest of the book provides a summary and action items for the 34 Themes, or strengths. The assessment gives you your top five Themes, complete with a summary and a detailed report. You have 20 seconds to answer each question, and the whole assessment takes about 30 minutes. I thought the time limit was interesting, but there is a science behind it. Responding on instinct instead of logic, or thinking of the correct response, yields more accurate results. Who knew?
I confess I was skeptical. I’ve taken a number of assessments, and I highly doubt I’m done with them. They are all close, but usually just off, the mark. My curiosity got the better of me, though, so I logged on with my unique code to take the assessment.
I was floored by the results. No assessment has been so accurate.
Here are my 5 Strengths:
Learner is described as:
You love to learn. The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other themes and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process of learned. The process, more than the content or the result, is especially exciting for you.”
My first thought after reading that was: duh.
Except it didn’t really click until I read through the Ideas for Action, and came across this one: “Seek roles that require some form of technical competence. You will enjoy the process of acquiring and maintaing this expertise.” One need look no further than my heavy use of social media platforms and measuring tools. Even my resume, while most will see it as “job hopping,” demonstrates “the process of acquiring and maintaining” some kind of “technical competence.” I always chalked it up to just learning things faster than my peers, and having a constant desire to be challenged.
But now there is a scientific strength: Learner.
I initially smirked at this. C’mon. What does that even mean? Other than entering data into a spreadsheet, say.
Imagine my surprise when I read the following:
You are inquisitive. You collect things. You might collect information — words, facts, books, and quotations — or you might collect tangible objects such as butterflies, baseball cards, porcelain dolls, or sepia photographs. Whatever you collect, you collect it because it interests you. And yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting. The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity.
Inquisitive indeed. I tweet so much because I like sharing things I find interesting. I collect information more than physical, tangible objects, and I am a voracious reader. A consumer of knowledge, as it were. And then there was this little tidbit: “Input without output can lead to stagnation.” I tend to hold things in, or not offer up a piece of knowledge that might otherwise be useful. I often notice this after the fact, and the feeling that is associated with it. Holding things in clearly is not playing to my strength, so now I’ve learned something new.
This surprised me.
It says “you live in the moment. You don’t see the future as a fixed destination. Instead, you see it as a place that you create out of the choices you make right now.” I always thought I had a plan. I went to the college I went to because it had the best journalism school in the country, and my plan was to write for Sports Illustrated. Obviously that plan didn’t pan out. Until I got laid off, I was frustrated by my plans being derailed, for whatever reason. But after the assessment, I was not playing to my strength. I am, “at heart, a very flexible person who can stay productive when the demands of work are pulling you in many different directions at once.” Otherwise, I get bored.
Not surprising. As I’ve said before, I am a firm believer in things happening for a reason. I just prefer the reason be revealed sooner than it usually is. The Ideas for Action, though, were interesting, especially these two:
- Don’t spend too much time attempting to persuade others to see the world as a linked web. Be aware that our sense of connection is intuitive. If others don’t share your intuition, rational argument will not persuade them.
- Your philosophy of life compels you to move beyond your own self-interests and the interests of your immediate constituency and sphere of influence. As such, you see the broader implications for your community and the world. Explore ways to communicate these insights to others.
I’m stubborn. I attempt to persuade others but it hadn’t occurred to me that what they fail to see, though may realize later, is intuitive to me. And for the life of me, I haven’t understood why they can’t see it, either. It never occurred to me as intuition, just an obvious connection everyone should see. Something for me to work on, and something new to learn.
My final strength is Ideation. I’m simply fascinated by ideas. “An idea is a new perspective on familiar challenges.” And it flows into Connectedness, too, as I have a mind “that is always looking for connections” so I am “intrigued when seemingly disparate phenomena can be linked by an obscure connection.” The Ideas for Action are similar to others, like getting bored quickly which, apparently, can be combated by making small changes in work and home life and playing mental games with myself.
Understanding the fuel for my Ideation talents was kind of an “ah ha” moment for me. I get my best ideas while exercising, be it going for a walk with friends or going for a morning run. And it is after the exercise that I am most productive.
In the book, at the end of each Theme, is a short section called “Working With Others Who Have” that particular Theme. This is useful, especially if you know the strengths of others, or those with your strengths. Often times people butt heads because they are so similar, they argue and persuade the same way, talking past each other instead of talking to each other. The “Working With Others Who Have” section at the end of each Theme is a good reference, and well worth it.
So what are your strengths?