March 11th, 2014

planet

What I'm good at, according to StrengthsFinder 2.0

I see lots of copies of Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath on the bookshelves in the corner offices so I bought a copy. You kinda have to buy it because the book comes with a one-time use code for an assessment that tells you the strengths you should base your career on. The assessment is over 100 questions but you go through it pretty quickly, they're trying to get at your gut feelings for issues.

The first part of the book lays out the case for evaluating strengths instead of weaknesses. Too often in society we try to be better people by working on the stuff we're bad at. We celebrate stories of people overcoming their weaknesses. Like the movie "Rudy" - that kid had a ton of heart and worth ethic and love for football, but he was 5'6" and weighed 185 pounds. So he poured thousands of hours into making up for that, and got to participate in a single play at Notre Dame.

It's a nice story, but Rudy was trying to be something he wasn't. The return-on-investment for his hours were pretty low. When someone is bad at something, why can't we just say "that's fine, move on, you be a great teacher and this other guy be the great football player."

So I took my assessment and here were my Strengths... short versions, because there's like a 3-4 page writeup about each one.

Activator - "great, let's get started" - can't wait to translate ideas into action.

Command - Love being in the driver's seat, and can reassure others in times of crisis by taking charge.

Significance - Reputation is important, not afraid to make big, optimistic goals, need to be heard.

Context - Value lessons from history, rely on real-life examples of when something has or hasn't worked before.

Ideation - Good at connecting the dots of disparate ideas.

Of course my mind immediately read all of these another way: I'm an impatient, controlling, attention whore, who can't get over the past and who instantly expects other people to connect things and be right along with me in mental processes, because it's all obvious to me. I happily reported to several friends that my impatience and inability to empathize and nurture others should not be regarded as my strengths.

The authors must see the problems there too because there are quite a few "how to make up for this" sorts of tips in the book... reminders that I might have to slow down and earn people's trust before forging ahead with my big plans, and tips about who to get on my side. Nurturing personalities, or analytical, even people who avoid conflict because they might see a way to get around issues instead of just being confrontational. There were also suggestions for the types of assignments or projects I should try to be involved in. For example I should look for areas that are bogged down with stupid barriers that everyone hates, because I can fix those. I do not need to be the "official" leader of everything, because I'll usually find a way to have a great deal of influence no matter what.

As personality tests go this is a fun one to think about. When I read through the "Ideation" strength part of me felt like it might be talking about everybody. And my first three strengths have a lot of overlap and things in common - basically about leadership and taking control. But I like the tips and will keep the book around for reference, and have a few others around my office that I think have taken the assessment who I'd like to talk with about their strengths. Should be some good discussions.