I’m looking for something that stays constant throughout different circumstances, and I thought about strengths and talents rather than broad areas of personality. We own our strengths, and can choose to use them within the behavioral framework of our personality. I stumbled upon a useful book, not new- but new to me, called Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. It points you to another assessment, this one based on 34 areas of strengths. Like the Myers Briggs, I don’t choose to use my time or money taking the actual tests, just read the material and descriptions and sort it out for myself. If you want to shell out the bucks for the test, go for it.
Now like I said, I was hoping for constants when I started my quest for strengths, but many of these 34 areas are definitely personality behaviors, and disappointingly could change situationally. But this is a good start to my end plan of where I want to bring all of these personality areas and strengths together along with the maladaptive schema and show how it all works together, in my case works against me at times.
I’ll summarize the 34 themes and ideas for action from the book here, but the book has some really great suggestions for how to use each strength, pitfalls to look out for, and how to work well with others with that strength, so I’d recommend actually reading it yourself, found mine at the library. I truly enjoyed reading this book and playing around with these theories, as I’ve been so focused on specific student skills for the past decade, common core, math and reading skills, this is fun for me to get back into people skills like this and feel like I’m back in college.
Strengthsfinder areas:(alphabetical – I underlined the ones I feel I have personally)
- Achiever: Driven to achieve, an internal fire burning inside you pushing you to do more that rekindles after each achievement, always living with a whisper of discontentment as you work towards the next goal or challenge.
- Activator: Impatient for action, ready to start, ready to do something. feel you are judged not by words or thoughts, but only by actions.
- Adaptability: Live in the moment, expect detours, very flexible and spontaneous.
- Analytical: Prove it, show me. I will prove it to you. Armed with data and connections, root causes are revealed. Tend to be logical and rigorous. You love raw data because it has no agenda and the patterns will always emerge.
- Arranger: Enjoy managing complex situations with many variables and can easily see the best solution for schedules or other configurations.
- Belief: Your core beliefs affect your behavior and give your life meaning. This demands you find work that meshes with your values, work must matter to you.
- Command: You impose your view on others, are not frightened by confrontation, you may intimidate people or they may be drawn to you to lead them
- Communication: You explain, describe, host, speak, present, write. You hunt for the perfect phrase, you paint word pictures, you inspire others or move them to tears
- Competition: You must outperform your peers, and you must win
- Connectedness: You feel things happen for a reason, and that people are all connected in spirit, part of a larger picture, and that no one should be harmed or exploited
- Consistency: You feel people should be treated the same no matter what, no special privileges because of connections or backgrounds
- Context: You look back to understand the present, the presnt is unstable, a confusing clamor of sensory input, and only by analyzing the past can you see the blueprint and make sense of it all,
- Deliberative:Careful, vigilant, private, you know the world in unpredictable. you sense the risks underneath the surface and rather than deny, you identify, assess and reduce. you are fairly serious, and plan ahead. you identify dangers and place your feet deliberately instead of running through a minefield willy nilly.
- Developer: You see the potential in others and feel that no one is yet fully formed, everyone is a work in progress. signs of growth in others are your fuel. others seek you out for help.
- Discipline: your world needs to be predictable. your world is ordered and planned. big projects are broken down and you focus on timelines. you dislike surprises, you are impatient with errors.
- Empathy: you sense and feel the emotions of those around you as though their feelings are your own. you are able to see the world through their eyes. you may not agree with them or feel pity – that’s sympathy, not empathy, you just feel what they feel.
- Focus: Where am I headed? you need a destination and get quickly frustrated without one. You set goals and evaluate if your actions are leading you towards these goals or if you need to revise.
- Futuristic: wouldn’t it be great if…always dreaming and looking ahead to something better, a better, team, a better product, a better world
- Harmony: You look for areas of agreement, and feel little is to be gained from conflict and friction. while others are in heated debate, and in your opinion useless, debate, you hold your peace until there is a way to be productive
- Ideation: delighted and energized by ideas and looking and things in new ways, always looking for new connections, labeled as creative, people say “how did you think of that?”
- Includer: Expand the group so as many people fit in as possible, accept everyone and draw them in, you are warm and inviting, avoid groups that exclude others
- Individualization: intrigued by the unique qualities of each person, focus on the differences, impatient with ‘types’ because each person is so special
- Input: you collect things, objects or information, facts, books, quotes, dolls, whatever interests you. you read to acquire, not to refine and learn. trouble throwing things away.
- Intellection: like to think, enjoy time alone in reflection or musing or learning, introspective. you ask yourself questions and have a constant mental hum.
- Learner: you love to learn, the content does not matter, it is the process of learning that is exciting, the first steps of mastery. you may not need credit, degrees, the learning itself is important to you
- Maximizer: your goal is excellence, not average. you want to focus on what you’re already great at and make it the best, not be wellrounded
- Positivity: quick to smile, energy, enthusiasm, quick to praise others. you celebrate every achievement and know it is good to be alive
- Relator: you are pulled towards people you already know and people similar to you, comfortable with intimacy and closeness, you have strong trusting friendships
- Responsibility: you take psychological ownership for anything you commit to, you can’t live with yourself until things are right, impeccable ethics, everyone knows you are dependable and will get it done. willingness – often take on more than you should.
- Restorative: You love to solve problems. energized when encountering breakdowns, enjoy analyzing symptoms, and feel greatest when faced with complex unfamiliar problems.
- Self-Assurance: you have faith in your strengths. confidence in your abilities and in your judgment. no one can tell you what to think, you have final authority and no one intimidates you.
- Significance: you want to be significant in the eyes of others, you want to stand out and be known. you need to be admired, credible, successful. pulls you up away from mediocre.
- Strategic: sort through the clutter and find the best route. you see patterns where others only see complexity. you play what if scenarios, evaluate all paths and obstacles, then move forward.
- Woo: winning others over. you enjoy the challenge of meeting new people, connect easily to others, strike up conversation with anyone
So I underlined 17/34 of these strengths, which at first seems to be too many when the assessment will actually give you your top 5 for $9.99. I’m not sure how this works, since to me many of these are so closely related and fall into groups. I’ll group mine here to what makes sense to me and give them a title for how they work together. This is not how the book or assessment is built, this is my own interpretation building off the core strength that the book lists.
1- GET IT DONE – Achiever, Focus, Responsibility, Self-Assurance, Discipline, Belief: This is what keeps me going, my internal fire, my drive to succeed, my drive to help others, my need to not just overcome but to excel, my search for meaning and purpose in daily life, my intolerance for greed and laziness, my self-loathing at perceived failures, my impeccable ethics and unrelenting standards for myself and others.
2- FIGURE IT OUT – Analytical, Context, Deliberative, Strategic: This is how I understand, find the patterns, zoom in and zoom in see the details and the big picture too, see the dangers, all the dangers, assess them, and decide which path is safest, which path allows for growth with the most safety too, seek to control my environment by applying knowledge of the past to the possibilities of the future, always planning, always adding more data and reframing theories.
3- THINK, LEARN, CREATE – Intellection, Ideation, Learner: This is how I approach the world – with my head and thoughts first, action later. I enjoy and spend hours in my own head, thinking, turning thoughts around, playing with words and phrases, writing stories and poems, reading, surfing the web for new words, stories, new thoughts. New ideas bring me joy and excitement and energy, my own idea or others. I can make connections, see things others don’t, juxtapose and visualize, entertain myself with a blank wall in front of me, a vivid imagination always on the loose, but also ready to absorb large amounts of new info, if its new I want to learn it, new software, new music, new technology, new theory, new thought I want to learn it, love it, own it, roll in it, toss it around, connect it to other thoughts, make it into something and then show people
4- GROWTH – Futuristic, Developer: This is why I’m never content in the here and now, I am always dreaming of the bigger and better future for myself, others, my family, and the world. I’ve always been this way. I look around and I see a million ways to instantly improve the room, the lesson, presentation, the school, the chair, the building, the playground, the highway, the car, the book, and the people. I naturally see the easier way and want to show others – if you just do it like this instead…I ask why to see why we do it this way to build on this to do it better. I want to save money, do it more quickly, I hate wasting anything. I look around and I see potential, that nothing is ever done, ever. so I am always unsettled, wanting more.
5-PEACE – Empathy, Harmony: This is why I am often so quiet and listen 90% of my time with people, unless I am scheduled to speak. I feel the need in others to get attention, I feel their loneliness, feel their pain, feel their grief, feel their sorrow, frustration. I also feel their happiness, joy, sexual energy, fear, uncertainty. Sometimes I feel someone elses’s feelings so strongly I confuse it for my own at first, it can be overpowering. I need to protect myself, and I have learned to stay quiet, learned to not react quickly, learned to observe and let events play out. When others enter into futile debate, especially repeated debate each time we meet, I sit there silently and let it pass to preserve harmony. I am tuned in to the feelings of a room whether I want to or not, so I can get bombarded with sensory overload in a crowd, or if too many strong emotions, like when my children are crying and upset and I need to retreat to a safe physical or emotional distance. I then choose my words carefully, if I am still at peace that is, and can restore harmony to an upset room. When I’m already vulnerable and my child is disappointed, hurt, sick, etc, it is unbearable for me to add his pain on top of mine and I can no longer regulate and keep the peace. Hoping to learn this skill, as emotions are my biggest strength and downfall too.
I’ve been trying for a week now to complete this area with real life examples of how I use these strengths both for and against me, and I keep getting swept away in the emotion of the memories. The words don’t want to be written here, or maybe I’m not sure which examples to use out of so many in my lifetime. I keep typing and erasing, typing and erasing. I finally got something down. This was a super useful exercise for me. Next post I will connect my thoughts to the schema books I’ve been reading.