Not everyone can do that

I’ve talked with several people recently about figuring out what it is they do best. I decided to point you to the same resource I’ve sent them to.

Several years ago, I took a test called the StrengthsFinder.

I bought a book. I entered the code that was inside the book. I answered a bunch of questions. I hit “Submit”. I got an email that said that my strengths are

  • Strategic: People strong in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed.  Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.
  • Empathy: People strong in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.
  • Ideation: People strong in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas.  They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.
  • Intellection: People strong in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity.  They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.
  • Connectedness: People strong in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between all things.  They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.

Those of you who know me know that these are pretty accurate. I include them to suggest that this instrument can return results that reflect the person taking the test.

But why is this so interesting? I mean, didn’t I know these things about myself already?

I did. But I never thought of them as strengths. A couple of them I’ve actually thought of as weaknesses, as ways in which I was odd. A couple of the others I’ve assumed are what everyone did.

Not everyone can do what I do, or what you do.

These five are my strengths out of a list of thirty-four. Other people don’t have these five. They may have strengths in actually doing things, in learning, in leading.

This test grows out of an approach to leading and managing and teaching and relating that emphasizes strengths rather than weaknesses. We spend huge amounts of time working to improve things we can’t do, things that we struggle with. But what would happen if we poured that same energy into what we can do well, sharpening it, improving it? We would be more challenged, less frustrated, and more effective.

We would also be more aware of our need for other people.

If you are part of a team or a relationship, having each person take this test can let you see how your strengths can mesh. I’ve taken it in two settings with others. In each, it provided clarity. In one, it explained why we never got things all the way to done-there were a couple strengths that no one had.

Here’s a link to a book containing the code: StrengthsFinder 2.0: A New and Upgraded Edition of the Online Test from Gallup’s Now, Discover Your Strengths. (Affiliate link).

For those of you who have taken this test, has it been helpful?

If you haven’t, do you see the value?


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10 responses to “Not everyone can do that

  1. A friend recommended this book just last week. I haven’t purchased it and ran through the online test yet, but developing and recognizing strengths seems to be a theme for 2010. — It’s one of the reasons we home-school our kids, in order to help emphasis their natural strengths.

  2. if you get it, let me know what you think.

  3. It helps to ask someone else what they think your strengths are. Even better, think what people have told you you’re good at without being asked.

    If you’re really good at something, it may come so naturally that you assume everyone finds it natural as well.

  4. Jon,

    I had a similar experience as you: I didn’t recognize my strengths as strengths. Like you, I either thought everyone could do it or I didn’t think it was particularly useful. One of my strengths is Learner, and that is something that I never even thought about.

  5. I recently took this test and, while I’ve taken other ‘Personality Type’ tests before, did find this one to be particularly insightful.
    I’m an Ideator, too, and appreciated seeing how my habit of coming up with lots of ideas might distract/confuse others who aren’t like me. It doesn’t keep me or try to dissuade me from brainstorming, but reminds me to consider how I present my process and ideas to others.
    I do like that it stresses how each of our individual strengths fit into a group, and how each of us can best contribute what we are best at. The list of strengths is different from what I’m used to seeing and seems very timely. It’s a small book, but I found it nice and meaty – little morsels that I could sink my teeth into. Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Jon,

    I LOVE the strengthsfinders movement! It is amazingly accurate. Like you, I knew I was good at those things, but never thought of them as strengths. My understanding of my own strengths, in part, gave me the confidence to start my own business.

    My top five are:

    Great resource and a good recommendation for anyone looking to gain a better understanding of who they are and how to find successes in life, doing what you’re good at!

  7. I definitely want to take this test! This idea of pouring our energy into what we naturally do best really fits how I’ve been thinking lately about who I was created to be.

    I have spent most of my life focusing not on who I AM but on who I think I’m “supposed” to be. Somewhere along the way I got the idea that there’s a model, ideal human we should all aspire to. It sounds like this test firmly denies that all-too-common misperception. Wonderful!

  8. Well said, Kristin. I love how you name and address the misconception.


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  10. Marc A. Pitman,

    I love a strengths based approach. I even blogged about leading a strengths based church when I was pastoring the Vineyard.

    (My themes are learner, responsibility, focus, woo, & achiever.)