It’s classic job interview material.
“Tell me about your strengths. What can you add to this organization?”
If you’re like most of us, you probably feel a twinge of panic. How do you answer this question? Is there any good answer to this question? I mean, you have strengths, surely…you just can’t necessarily rattle them off on command…or at all.
(And let’s not even get started on the weaknesses question!)
We tend to be our own worst critics. Most of us aren’t even sure we have any exceptional attributes, much less what they are. If nobody’s ever told us we’re good at anything, how can we possibly know?
Enter the Strengthsfinder assessment. Gallup developed this handy tool several years back, and it has literally changed my life. (Nope, not a sponsored post – just an honest testimony!)
When I was 14, my dad became obsessed with the Strengthsfinder because his team had implemented it at work. They found it useful, fascinating, and sometimes surprising to learn what each employee’s top strengths were. It was a game-changer.
So my dad came home with a copy of Marcus Buckingham’s Now, Discover Your Strengths! and made me sit down at the computer with a custom code to take the assessment for myself. I was a moody high school freshman who didn’t particularly like being told what to do, and I was highly annoyed at the major inconvenience of having to take a test on a weekend. 😏
But I was shocked when I saw my results.
Responsibility was listed as my number one strength. I’m responsible? No one had ever in my life told me I was responsible, but I’d heard teachers and smart-looking adults call plenty of other people responsible. Just not me. So I assumed I wasn’t. I actually figured I was probably irresponsible.
Looking back, I laugh, because here’s a glimpse at high-school me: honor student, bookworm, babysitter, brace-face (I actually wore those rubber bands and, later, retainers – still do!), church nursery volunteer. I arrived to school 30 minutes early each day so I could beat traffic and ensure I wouldn’t be tardy. I kept an extra cardigan in my locker in case I got cold, I started each morning with a nutritious granola bar, and I wasn’t even sure how the snooze button on my alarm worked because I had never used it. I always got up on time and I arrived at least 15 minutes early to everything.
And I didn’t think I was responsible.
At first I scoffed at my results, thinking they obviously hadn’t quite figured me out.
And then I started to read the descriptions in my custom report and began realizing that, yep, they pretty much nailed it. I’m responsible, huh. Hey, I’m responsible!
It was an enormous self-esteem booster for me, even though I didn’t share that revelation with anyone. I was, after all, still a teenager. I had a rep to maintain. I continued to roll my eyes about the Strengthsfinder to my parents, but I secretly found it a little fascinating myself.
In the years to come, I’d end up retaking the Strengthsfinder for various jobs and classes. My strengths shifted a bit, but many themes remained the same. They don’t typically vary that much, but considering I started as a 14-year-old and lived a lot of life – good, bad, and ugly – over the next decade plus, it makes sense that my personality changed a little. (My funniest story is that I used to have Harmony in my top 5 until I lived in a dorm. At which point it disappeared, and now firmly rests at spot number 26. Out of 34. 😂 )
As I went through college, wrote a resume, sat through performance reviews, and even just engaged in get-to-know-you conversations with others, I felt so much more empowered to talk about myself when I knew exactly what five of my strengths were. Before taking the Strengthsfinder, I had no idea. I thought I was just average. “Normal.” But it greatly helped my self-esteem to have a reputable assessment tell me I was actually really good at something. I also enjoyed having my friends take the Strengthsfinder and see them discover their unique strengths, too.
Today I’m as big a fan as ever. A few years back, I splurged on the $90 test where you get your entire list of 34 themes, in order (It’s now only $50). Totally worth it.
I implement the Strengthsfinder along with the DISC when I teach GPS, and I’m not sure I’ve met a person yet who isn’t encouraged to discover where he or she shines.
The Strengthsfinder truly changes lives. It changed mine as a high school freshman, and it boosts the confidence of people all over the world as it reports to them the areas in which they excel.
If you are like 14-year-old me and aren’t sure what your strengths might be, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Strengthsfinder 2.0. Each book contains a unique code for you to take the Strengthsfinder assessment online. You can also just buy a code on the website and download a digital copy of the book, if you so choose. The book is short but worth the read, as it elaborates on each strength and explains exactly what these fine qualities you possess entail.
If it isn’t obvious yet, I highly recommend the Strengthsfinder. It changed my life, and it can change yours!
Report back if you take it for the first time after reading this – I’d love to hear your results! And if you’ve already taken the Strengthsfinder, post your top 5 below. I’m always interested to hear what others have as their top 5!
Curious about mine? Here they are (or see the comments below):