Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Discovering My Strengths

About a month ago, we had a work project within my sales team to find what each individual's unique talents and strengths were. The book we used, Now, Discover Your Strengths, gives you a code to go online to take a personality and strengths finder test  and from the evaluation shows your Top 5 traits. 

There are 34 traits, what they call themes, and range anywhere from Developer to Futuristic to Restorative. (Click here to see the summary of the themes). I took the test before I read the book, so I had no presumptions of what the themes were and couldn't choose my answers to sway the results one way or the other (if my test results came out with "perfect in every way", I think someone would get suspicious).

The test was tough. I'm not sure what that says about my personality, hopefully that I'm well rounded and not just indecisive. You get about 10 seconds to answer each question, and they're weird questions with multiple answers that you feel all could describe you. But you can only choose one. 

They tell you to not think about it and choose the one that is your first instinct. So I just went with it. If the results turned out that I was irresponsible and disrespectful and an all around unpleasant human being, well, I guess my secret would be out.

At the end of the test, I got my top 5 themes and a detailed explanation of each: 


"Stretch the circle wider". This is the philosophy around which you orient your life. You want to include people and make them feel part of the group. In direct contrast to those who are drawn only to exclusive groups, you actively avoid those groups that exclude others.  You hate the sight of someone on the outside looking in. You want to draw them in so that they can feel the warmth of the group. You are an instinctively accepting person. Regardless of race or sex or nationality or personality or faith, you cast few judgements. Judgements can hurt a person's feelings. Why do that if you don't have to? Your accepting nature does not necessarily rest on a belief that each of us is different and that one should respect these differences. Rather, it rests on your conviction that fundamentally we are all the same. We are all equally important. Thus, no one should be ignored. Each of us should be included. It is the least we all deserve.


You are generous with praise, quick to smile, and always on the lookout for the positive in the situation.Some call you lighthearted. Others just wish that their glass were as full as yours seem to be. But either way, people want to be around you. Their world looks better around you because your enthusiasm is contagious. Lacking your energy and optimism, some find their world drab with repetition, or worse, heavy with pressure. You seem to find a way to lighten their spirit. You inject drama into every project. You celebrate every achievement. you find ways to make everything more exciting and more vital. Some cynics may reject your energy, but you are rarely dragged down. Your positivity won't allow it. Somehow you can't quite escape your conviction that it is good to be alive, that work can be fun, and that no matter what the setbacks, one must never lose one's sense of humor.

Someone once bought me a shirt that said "violently happy". It's the perfect phrase for me.


Your achiever theme helps explain your drive. Achiever describes a constant need for achievement. You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by "every day" you mean every single day -- workdays, weekends, vacations. No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied. You have an internal fire burning inside you that pushes you to do more, to achieve more. After each accomplishment is reached, the fire dwindles for a moment, but very soon it rekindles itself, forcing you toward the next accomplishment. Your relentless need for achievement might not be logical. It might not even be focused. But it will always be with you. As an achiever you must learn to live with this whisper of discontent. It does have its benefits. It brings you the energy you need to work long hours without burning out. It is the jolt you can always count on to get you started on new tasks, new challenges. It is the power supply that causes you to set the pace and define the levels of productivity for your work group. It is the theme that keeps you moving.

You look for areas of agreement. In your view there is little to be gained from conflict and friction, so you seek to hold them to a minimum. When you know that the people around you hold differing views, you try to find the common ground. You try to steer them away from confrontation and toward harmony. In fact, harmony is one of your guiding values. You can't quite believe how much time is wasted by people trying to impose their views on others. Wouldn't we all be more productive if we kept our opinions in check and instead looked for consensus and support? You believe we would, and you live by that belief. When others are sounding off about their goals, their claims, and their fervently held opinions, you hold your peace. When others strike out in a direction, you will willingly, in the service of harmony, modify your own objectives to merge with theirs (as long as their basic values do not clash with yours). When others start to argue about their pet theory or concept, you steer clear of the debate, preferring to talk about practical, down-to-earth matters on which you can all agree. In your view we are all in the same boat, and we need this boat to get where we are going. It is a good boat. There is no need to rock it just to show that you can.

I avoid drama at all costs, steer clear of debates, and try to find common ground between everyone. It's almost embarrassing. Some may view it as weak, but I view it as why can't everyone just leave everyone else alone and be nice?


Your responsibility theme forces you to take psychological ownership for anything you commit to, and whether large or small, you feel emotionally bound to follow it through to completion. Your good name depends on it. If for some reason you cannot deliver, you automatically start to look for ways to make it up to the other person. Apologies are not enough. Excuses and rationalizations are totally unacceptable. You will not quite be able to live with yourself until you have made restitution. This conscientiousness, this near obsession for doing things right, and your impeccable ethics, combine to create your reputation: utterly dependable. When assigning new responsibilities, people will look to you first because they know it will get done. When people come to you for help - and they soon will - you must be selective. Your  willingness to volunteer may sometimes lead you to take on more than you should.

I always take on more than I should. Maybe I'm not so proud of that, but you can at least depend on me and my "impeccable ethics"....cough cough.... (hey they said it, not me!)

Out of the list of themes, which five do you think best describe you? 

If you took the test, were there any themes you were surprised by that you got or didn't get?

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