A student organization I’m involved with had a retreat this past weekend that included StrengthsQuest, a program developed to help you discover what strengths you possess. The objective is to encourage you to achieve in life by utilizing your nature talents rather than focusing too much energy on changing your weaknesses.
You start by taking a 30 minute assessment online during which you determine in rapid-fire secession how the statements they provide describe you in varying degrees. From your answers they give you your top 5 strengths.
For nearly everyone at our group’s retreat, the resulting strengths were dead-on.
My top 5 (and the StrengthsQuest definititons) include…
1. Intellection: loves to think, enjoys mental activity, is introspective and appreciates intellectual discussion.
2. Strategic: enabled to sort through clutter and find the best route, excels at strategic thinking, easily determines alternative options to scenarios, easily spots patterns or trends; “not a skill that can be taught…it is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large.”
3. Input: “crave information”, very inquisitive, collects and archives items or information.
4. Relator: enjoys close relationships with others, likes to deepen friendships and relationships.
5. Individualization: ability to view each person as a distinct, one-of-a-kind individual; dislikes generalizations or “types” because the unique qualities of each person is more intriguing.
As an aspiring journalist, I wasn’t surprised to see Input as one of my strengths. Perhaps I’ve chosen this field because I’m inately curious, nosy, and inquisitve? I doubt my boyfriend would be surprised either since he often playfully chastises me for being a “detective”…Now I can explain to him it’s just in my nature!
Considering my love for discussions, my knack for directions and packing, my preference for having a small group of close friends, and my stellar ability to get just the right gift for my loved ones, I think the other “strengths” fit me pretty well too.
This program was developed by asking millions of people over the course of 40 years about how they excel in their specific field; trends amongst the results helped the Gallup Organization determine 34 recurring strengths. They include: Achiever, Activator, Adaptability, Analytical, Arranger, Belief, Command, Communication, Competition, Connectedness, Context, Deliberative, Developer, Discipline, Empathy, Consistency, Focus, Futuristic, Harmony, Ideation, Includer, Individualization, Input, Intellection, Learner, Maximer, Postiveity, Relator, Responsibility, Restorative, Self-Assurance, Significance, Strategic, and Woo (“Winning Over Others”).
According to the presentation, people with Discipline as their top strength find success most frequently in the military and people with Belief as their top strength typically excel in religious-based organizations. Most of the professors at my University had Learner in their top strengths (which makes perfect sense).
The point is to recognize your strengths as an individual and use them to your advantage. Many of the talents listed are not something that can be learned. We often put too much emphasis on “the American dream”, the lie that we can achieve anything simply because we want it or can work hard enough to obtain it. But the truth is that not everyone can be President, or a brilliant mathematican, or the next Shakespeare…so the focus needs to shift from correcting our shortcomings to capitalizing on our talents.
If you’re interested in trying the program for yourself, it’s $15 to take the test through school or $25 on the StrengthsQuest website. You can also buy one of the Gallup books that comes with the code to take the test on the website (our presentator recommended How Full Is Your Bucket?).