Thursday, February 12, 2015

My Top 5 Strengths (according to StrengthsFinder)

Uh oh, comes an overshare (haha jk this entire blog is just one giant overshare):

I'm the type of person who is far more prone to recognize my weaknesses than I am to recognize my strengths.

I know, bummer, right? That's not to say that I don't see myself as being gifted in certain areas, but at the end of the day, I tend to focus a lot more in my life on the areas where I need to grow. My thought process often looks a lot like this:

I need to develop a better routine.
I need to get better at answering emails.
I need to keep an editorial calendar figure out what an editorial calendar is.
I need to be more brave.
I need to eat better and exercise more.
I need to be less negative.
I need to be the kind of person who unloads the dishwasher and answers all of my text messages and eats chia seeds and goes to bed before midnight.

This thought cycle is not a healthy practice. Believe me, I know.

And since I have this propensity for dwelling on areas where I need to improve, I sometimes can be a bit unfocused on my actual strengths, even when they are spelled out for me.

Such was the case when I saw the results of my StrengthsFinder test. By the way, if you're unsure of what StrengthsFinder is, it's essentially exactly what it sounds like. Through a series of about zillion questions, this test determines your top five strengths from a list of 34 (34! Guys, this is a really comprehensive test!). My husband took it a few months back, and he gained so many valuable insights from it that have really helped shape the way he approaches his professional life. He's been encouraging me to take it for the last few weeks, and I finally did yesterday. For the record, you honestly don't have to do a lot of arm-twisting to get me to take a personality test. I've done 'em all -- Meyers Briggs, The Big Five, that one where you figure out what your patronus is. I'm all about getting insight into what the hell is going on with my brain.

The process of actually taking the StrengthsFinder test was quite enlightening. To keep someone like me from obsessing over each question, they only give you 20 seconds to choose your answer. That means, you just have to go with your instincts. Here's an example of how the questions were structured:

For the record, I was too distracted to actually take a screen cap, so this one comes from Huey at Huey's Stuff (he also has some good insights into his experience with StrengthsFinder). Also, if it matters, I answered this question differently. I'm more committed to growth.
As I moved through the test, I found myself feeling (probably needlessly) guilty for some of my answers. There were questions that I answered which looked like this:

I have several friends versus I choose my friends carefully.

My ego is not so inflated to require praise or acclaim versus I require praise and acclaim.

But I was determined to keep it real, and of course, I recommend that for anyone taking this test. It's tempting to pick what you think should be the "right" answer, but of course, the truth is the right answer. 

When I reached the end of the test, I was somewhat spent. And results popped up. You ready, friends? I'll lay em out all nice and huge for you:


It was interesting looking at this list for a number of reasons. For one, I couldn't help but notice that "Hotness" and "Moxy" were not among my top strengths (these aren't actually listed among the 34 strengths, but how great would it be if they were?). Second, it was in this moment that I truly realized how much I tend to undermine my abilities. Instead of saying that I have empathy, I often say that I'm too sensitive. Instead of saying that I have great ideas, I often say that my brain is a giant, cluttered mess.

In fact, I would argue that the things that we see as weaknesses in ourselves are actually unfocused strengths. On one hand, we like to feel like we have all the potential in the world, but we often end up frustrated that we don't have certain qualities that we see in others. For me, it was actually nice to narrow it down to these five items because instead of reaching for traits outside of my wheelhouse, I was able to say, okay, this is what I've got to work with. How can I make the best of it?

And I've got to say, I kind of seriously love my strengths. I love that I'm a big, multi-idea person. I love that I can sense when people are hurting. I love that I can anticipate outcomes and develop solutions and adapt when all hell breaks loose. These are pretty kick-ass qualities, and I've got them. 

And I'm sure you've got some pretty great ones too, so if you're wondering how best to access them, perhaps StrengthsFinder would be good for you too. It provides tons of information about how best to hone your skills.

A warning, though, friends: you have to pay for it. I know...significant bummer. Still, of all of the personality tests I've taken, this is the one where I truly understand charging a pretty penny. It's deeply insightful and really catered to your individual responses. For instance, my husband and I ended up with the same 5th strength: Adaptability, but his report on "Adaptability" looked WAY different than mine did. 

So if you're into it: go get it. It costs about $14 on Amazon to get the Kindle version (oh yeah, this test also comes with a really insightful book). Let me know if you take it because I want to hear your results! 

But even if you don't take this particular test, I hope you are able to identify a few key areas in life in which you are particularly gifted. Remember that you've got strengths out the wazoo, ones that you may not even be aware of. Ask your friends and loved ones to tell you what they are, and then go out and do amazing things with them. Amen. 

What are your top strengths?

Oh, also, PS, this post wasn't sponsored. Wish it was. That would have been cool. But no, I just like this test.


  1. I've had that book sitting on my shelf for months, MONTHS! Maybe I should finally go and take it! Sounds kind of fun!

  2. When I started at my current job, they gave us this book and had us take the test. We don't focus on it much anymore, but it is nice that somewhere in our computer system there's a spreadsheet of all the employees strengths. It works great when you're looking to pull together a committee or something and you need different talents. For the record, mine are: Belief, Communication, Connectedness, Positivity, Developer.

  3. This is a great post! I'm going to take this test, for sure. I am very similar to you where I tend to focus on negative aspects, or things that I want to get better at. It's so easy to overlook your strengths. You have some great strengths! And I totally agree with what you said about the strengths being sort of on the back burner to your weaknesses. What you see as too sensitive is really empathy in disguise!

    I'll let you know when I take the test!

  4. There's a patronus quiz!?! Sorry i gotta go do that before I can even think about this one!! ;)

  5. OH. MY. GOSH. We have all but one strength in common! Instead of strategic I have connectedness. That is so amazing! I really enjoy our strengths, and knowing them really does help with confidence and knowing what you can do :)

  6. I absolutely love this post! How true, I twist and turn things around on myself as well, and tend to only see the negative side. Why do we torture ourselves so? I'm convinced one day I will grow out of it, and just start seeing myself for who I really am, instead of this tainted view....but I think I need to keep crossing my fingers, or you know, actually work on myself! ha!

  7. Mine were: Input, Includer, Activator, Ideation, Futuristic.
    The description for my Input was the most accurate thing about me I have EVER read:

    Always explore; always be curious.
    • Identify your areas of specialization and actively
    seek more information about them.
    • Make time to read books and articles that stimulate
    you. Schedule regular time to do this.
    • Deliberately increase your vocabulary. Intentionally
    collect new words and learn their meanings.
    • You likely enjoy reading the dictionary and the
    encyclopedia — this might seem strange to some
    people, but for someone like you it is a good way to
    strengthen your self-concept.
    • Devise a system to store and easily locate
    information. This can be as simple as a file for all
    the articles you have clipped or as sophisticated as a
    computer database.
    • Identify situations in which you can share the
    information you have collected with other people.
    • Accept that you will never feel that you
    know enough

    The last point- ESPECIALLY. I always feel like I need to know more. Gathering information.
    Which aptly fits with something I said to someone when I was in high school- They asked what I wanted in life, what the goal was... and I said.. 'Knowledge. I want to know so many things.'
    Way to not change that much, self.


  8. I took the test too and had very similar reactions when analyzing my results. I definitely felt that it gave me a really good look into the way I processed things!

    My strengths were: individualism, achiever, learner, strategic and focus!

  9. U Penn has a VIA Character Strengths survey you can take here:

    It's free but you have to register an account (which isn't necessarily a bad thing if you want to look over you results in-depth afterwards). They rank 24 character strengths according to your answers and your top 5 are what they advise you to focus on but they also let you see your lowest ranked strengths (mine is humility, gulps). You can pay for a book too.

    I adore it.

    It's great.

    My top strength was:
    Creativity, ingenuity, and originality -

    Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.

    (I'm not associated with Penn State in any way, shape, or form. I'm also a personality quiz enthusiast and this one's free and legit).

  10. I took the test and I was so... ambiguous about my results but after some thinking and realising I am being brain dead - I wrote a post about it and how you inspired me. Although I took some other test instead of this one, I actually got out of it just what I needed. Thank you for this post.


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