Uh oh, guys...here 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
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 then...my 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.