One of my favorite business books is “Now, Discover Your Strengths,” by Marcus Buckingham.
The central premise of the book is that focusing on developing our natural strengths – rather than merely mitigating our weaknesses – we can accelerate our careers, take bigger advantage of opportunities, and, ultimately, end up feeling more fulfilled professionally.
To help people discover their “natural strengths,” Buckingham and the folks at Gallup created a “Strengthsfinder Test” that assesses ones’ top strengths and provides feedback on the implications thereof.
My top 5 strengths, according to this test are:
If you possess a strong Belief theme, you have certain core values that are enduring. These values vary from one person to another, but ordinarily your Belief theme causes you to be family-oriented, altruistic, even spiritual, and to value responsibility and high ethics — both in yourself and others. These core values affect your behavior in many ways. They give your life meaning and satisfaction; in your view, success is more than money and prestige. They provide you with direction, guiding you through the temptations and distractions of life toward a consistent set of priorities. This consistency is the foundation for all your relationships. Your friends call you dependable. “I know where you stand,” they say. Your Belief makes you easy to trust. It also demands that you find work that meshes with your values. Your work must be meaningful; it must matter to you. And guided by your Belief theme it will matter only if it gives you a chance to live out your values.Source: Gallup.com
While I identify with each of the strengths assessed by the test, I think this is the one I most identify with.
As Simon Sinek suggested in ‘Start with Why,’ all of us need a sense of purpose to be successful. In organizations, leaders are responsibility for setting a vision & communicating it – getting people to “buy in” to the “why,” so they feel more committed to the overall objectives of the organization.
For me, this is especially true.
And it’s especially true that what I do – and where I am – is consistent with my values, which are largely motivated by my faith, a commitment to growth and innovation, and personal responsibility.
The correlated weakness in this strength is that when I experience a values conflict or don’t believe in what I’m doing – and am unable to reconcile those things after a period of time – I will change course.
I’m not likely to settle for ‘status quo,’ “just because.” And this sometimes causes tension.
But, if I “buy in,” then I’m “all in” and my full mental, emotional, psychological, and physical assets are invested.
> You are fascinated by ideas. What is an idea? An idea is a concept, the best explanation of the most events. You are delighted when you discover beneath the complex surface an elegantly simple concept to explain why things are the way they are. An idea is a connection. Yours is the kind of mind that is always looking for connections, and so you are intrigued when seemingly disparate phenomena can be linked by an obscure connection. An idea is a new perspective on familiar challenges. You revel in taking the world we all know and turning it around so we can view it from a strange but strangely enlightening angle. You love all these ideas because they are profound, because they are novel, because they are clarifying, because they are contrary, because they are bizarre. For all these reasons you derive a jolt of energy whenever a new idea occurs to you. Others may label you creative or original or conceptual or even smart. Perhaps you are all of these. Who can be sure? What you are sure of is that ideas are thrilling. And on most days this is enough.Source: Gallup.com
It’s likely evident from my style of writing alone, that I am fascinated by ideas…often for their own sake.
It’s one of the reasons that I read so much, across so many disciplines from math & science to creative writing and doodling.
I have a deep sense of the Truth that binds all things and am profoundly interested in discovering that Truth at deeper and deeper levels.
How, for instance, do I reconcile faith and reason? Evolution and creation? Innovation and discipline? Those are the kinds of questions I love to explore.
As a result, I tend to see things from multiple perspectives at once and can easily connect unrelated phenomena, which is really useful in innovative or strategic circumstances.
It’s a lot less useful in mechanistic or routine functions.
Your Individualization theme leads you to be intrigued by the unique qualities of each person. You are impatient with generalizations or “types” because you don’t want to obscure what is special and distinct about each person. Instead, you focus on the differences between individuals. You instinctively observe each person’s style, each person’s motivation, how each thinks, and how each builds relationships. You hear the one-of-a-kind stories in each person’s life. This theme explains why you pick your friends just the right birthday gift, why you know that one person prefers praise in public and another detests it, and why you tailor your teaching style to accommodate one person’s need to be shown and another’s desire to “figure it out as I go.” Because you are such a keen observer of other people’s strengths, you can draw out the best in each person. This Individualization theme also helps you build productive teams. While some search around for the perfect team “structure” or “process,” you know instinctively that the secret to great teams is casting by individual strengths so that everyone can do a lot of what they do well.Source: Gallup.com
On an interpersonal level, I care deeply about people. Mostly, I want to see everyone grow & thrive…at whatever they’re good at and passionate about.
To the extent that I can help, I’m usually glad to…and sometimes, to a fault.
This is especially the case when we need to balance “individualization” with “routine” and “process,” which can often feel like it diminishes individual uniqueness and contribution.
As NPR’s Garrison Keillor says, I want everyone to “be well, do good work, and keep in touch.” If I can help with that, let me know.
You love to solve problems. Whereas some are dismayed when they encounter yet another breakdown, you can be energized by it. You enjoy the challenge of analyzing the symptoms, identifying what is wrong, and finding the solution. You may prefer practical problems or conceptual ones or personal ones. You may seek out specific kinds of problems that you have met many times before and that you are confident you can fix. Or you may feel the greatest push when faced with complex and unfamiliar problems. Your exact preferences are determined by your other themes and experiences. But what is certain is that you enjoy bringing things back to life. It is a wonderful feeling to identify the undermining factor(s), eradicate them, and restore something to its true glory. Intuitively, you know that without your intervention, this thing-this machine, this technique, this person, this company-might have ceased to function. You fixed it, resuscitated it, rekindled its vitality. Phrasing it the way you might, you saved it.Source: Gallup.com
The Strategic theme enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. It is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large. This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity. Mindful of these patterns, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking, “What if this happened? Okay, well what if this happened?” This recurring question helps you see around the next corner. There you can evaluate accurately the potential obstacles. Guided by where you see each path leading, you start to make selections. You discard the paths that lead nowhere. You discard the paths that lead straight into resistance. You discard the paths that lead into a fog of confusion. You cull and make selections until you arrive at the chosen path — your strategy. Armed with your strategy, you strike forward. This is your Strategic theme at work: “What if?” Select. Strike.Source: Gallup.com