I've always enjoyed taking personality tests. My inner teenager still loves to take the "Which 'Friends' character are you?" kind of quizzes. (Answer: Rachel.)
Those kinds of tests are typically hit or miss. Even when the description doesn’t suit me at all, I can usually find one sentence to which I can relate and say, “Oh yeah, that’s totally me!”
But when I took the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment for a team-building activity in college, I was hooked. I related to every sentence. Even the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which places you into one of 16 personality type categories, didn’t do that for me. (I am, by the way, an ENFJ — just like six other Mottis employees.)
Owned by polling giant Gallup, the Clifton StrengthsFinder is a 35-minute, online assessment that helps the respondent identify their top five talents among 34 themes and encourages them to turn them into strengths. Talents, the study says, are “the ways we naturally think, feel and behave as unique individuals.”
Unlike Myers-Briggs, your talents aren’t as likely to change if you take the test again later in life. You’ve really been fostering the same themes since childhood, according to the accompanying book by Tom Rath, “StrengthsFinder 2.0.” I’ve taken it twice, and only ended up with one new theme and altered rankings.
Growing up, we’re taught to concentrate on correcting our faults, which wastes time and energy. Instead, Rath says, focus on your own assets to maximize success. It makes sense: Why not focus on what you’re naturally good at and let others fill in the gaps with their strong points? “You cannot be anything you want to be — but you can be a lot more of who you already are,” Rath writes.
When you take the test, you read 177 pairs of statements and choose the one that best describes you, such as “I get to know people individually” versus “I accept many types of people.” At the end, the test reveals your top five most dominant themes, called Signature Themes, and provides you with a personalized report based on your answers. Given the basic odds of ranking the 34 themes, there are more than 33 million unique combinations of top five themes.
My top five — strategic, maximizer, communication, achiever and significance — make a lot of sense for me as an individual, as a designer and as a team player at Mottis. After all, these themes have been with me my whole life — I just hadn’t analyzed myself in this way until I took the assessment. Now, I am working on turning my strengths into habits, too. I made a poster of my themes for my workspace to remind me of my talents every day. When you focus on your themes at work, you’re more likely to have lots of good, creative ideas and less likely to dread coming to work or treat others poorly.
The “StrengthsFinder 2.0″ book is my new favorite gift for friends and family. I’d recommend it to anyone. And, while it’s nice to know how I work, I also like learning what makes other people tick. Knowing others’ strengths helps me understand them and how to connect and interact with them. By discovering our strengths, we’re doing ourselves and our workplaces a favor.
- Strategic: I instinctively look for patterns and issues in a scenario, and find solutions to problems.
- Maximizer: I seek ways to help others utilize their talents in any situation to kindle personal and group excellence.
- Communication: I like asking questions, telling stories and sharing information I have learned with others.
- Achiever: I actually enjoy working hard, and I have a lot of stamina to do so. Being busy and productive makes me happy.
- Significance: Though I’m independent, I like to feel important and I really thrive on being told I have done a good job.
How to find your own strengths:
You’ll start by purchasing a copy of “StrengthsFinder 2.0″ by Tom Rath online or in the self-help section at a bookstore. I recommend reading the introductory material first — it’s a quick read, maybe 30 or so minutes. Then, use the one-time access code in the back of the book to take the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment. When you get your results, be sure to take advantage of the plethora of strength-building materials Gallup has to offer.
If you’ve taken the test, what are your five Significant Themes? Do you agree with them?