Ok, this whole journey is a crazy ride. I just completed the Clifton StrengthsFinder Assessment, which is the basis of the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book. I have a lot to say about the assessment itself, and I will get to that in a bit, but it wasn’t until I was browsing around the Gallup website later in the evening that I finally stumbled on what I wanted to find back when I started this idea and this blog.
I want to do this: Certificate in Strengths-Based Education
But since that’s really expensive, I’d settle for one of these: Strengths Learning Intensive
(Those bolded words are links. You can click on them)
Obviously there are a number of reasons I can’t do either right now (finances, time, the fact that the certificate program already started, etc.), but someday… This is what I’ve been talking about. It looks like the StrengthsQuest curriculum is mostly (if not entirely) used at colleges and universities, but the information would still be invaluable for bringing strengths-based education to high schools. I just don’t get why it took me so long to find this! If I ever end up in the same area as one of those conferences, I’m going.
Ok, on to the assessment. For those who don’t know, the StrengthsFinder assessment is an online test that offers 177 pairs of statements related to strengths, natural behavioral patterns, and thought processes. You have 20 seconds to decide which of the two statements you agree with more. It is timed, and you can only take the assessment once. This is to make certain your answers are based on instinct, instead of over-thinking it. Gallup organization has defined 34 strength “themes,” as they call them, and based on your responses to the 177 statements, the assessment ranks your individual top five themes. And then they give you a ton of information about what each one means, and they narrow down the specifics in a personalized report based on your individual responses. So not only does the book have 3-4 pages on each of the 34 themes, but my assessment results came in the form of an 18 page pdf document personalized to how those themes are embodied in my life. So once I sift through all of that information, I’ll explain them a bit more and how they’re relevant to me and my career in future posts.
But for now, here are my top five strength themes, followed by a brief general description:
- Maximizer: People who are especially talented in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.
- Input: People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.
- Belief: People who are especially talented in the Belief theme have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their life.
- Harmony: People who are especially talented in the Harmony theme look for consensus. They don’t enjoy conflict; rather, they seek areas of agreement.
- Woo: People who are especially talented in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person.
When my aunt told me she had taken the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment, she commented that it didn’t offer her any new real insights; it was more just an affirmation of what she already knew about herself. Honestly, I see what she means. I can’t say I’m surprised by my results, especially the top three. I don’t know if I would have initially picked out those last two to describe me, but when I read my personalized report, I can see why they came up, too. So my top five strength themes make perfect sense based on what I already know about myself.
So what was the point, if it only told me what I already know? Actually, I see two points to working through it.
First, it gives me a vocabulary to talk about my strengths and abilities. While it didn’t tell me much new about myself, I didn’t always have the language to describe my particular strengths, especially the Maximizer. That one fits me perfectly, but I didn’t have a word for it before. And while they aren’t really surprising, they’re still food for thought, giving me new ideas on how to act on the strengths I already knew I had.
Second, I’m actually glad my results don’t surprise me and I’m glad they didn’t surprise my aunt, either, because it tells me that the assessment is accurate. Those of us who already find fulfillment in work and life shouldn’t be surprised by the results. But there is a whole demographic of young people out there that don’t yet know what they should be doing and where they’ll find fulfillment. These results don’t surprise me now that I’ve been working for a while, but 10 years ago they would have blown me away with their insight. And that’s the time of life when that kind of information would be most useful, I think.
That’s why I think strengths-based education is so cool. I don’t think my results would have been different when I was a teenager. I still have the same natural, innate talents I had when I was in high school. I’ve just gained a better understanding of them over the years and experience. What if I had begun to understand sooner? What if someone had shown me where I should focus my strengths back when I first explored majors and career options?
I’m so glad to find out a curriculum of some kind actually exists, even if it is mainly on the college level. I can’t wait to learn more. In the meantime, I can still explore a bit more about my own strength themes, and the strengths I see in the students I’ve encountered.