In a recent podcast I recorded with John Wenger and guest Maureen Monte, we talked about Maureen’s speciality.., Strength Based Success development. This was a very interesting and educative hour, listen to the podcast to learn more about Maureen and her training.
Anyway.., finding my strengths seemed a logical next step, so I decided that to take the test/assessment at gallupstrengthscenter.com. I opted for the $15 version, this will give you your 5 best strengths.
After taking the test, you can opt for paying the full amount and receive your 34 strengths, which sounds a bit nuts to me.., if I would have 34 strengths, how many weaknesses would I have then?
No, I’ll stick with 5, assuming there needs to be a balance, that would, psychologically, also reduce the amount of weaknesses.
I’m doing this experiment out of curiosity, and, if all goes well, I might even learn a thing or two, and improve a thing or two, wouldn’t that be something. I will discuss some proceedings with Maureen, in order to get a better understanding of the theory behind this focus on strengths, rather than improving or eliminating weaknesses.
It’s a Start
The number one thing to remember is that this is a process. It’s a journey, and probably one that will never end. Personal development is of such a nature that there is always room for improvement, there’s no such thing as perfection.
The StrengthsFinder is simply a way to determine your starting point. Like Maureen says:
We don’t end with strengths, we start with them. What happens next is critical to your ability to integrate your rock star awesomeness into your work, with intent and focus. – Maureen Monte
As far as starts go, the Gallup StrengthsFinder test is easy enough, even the texts are suitable from 15 years and up, so there really isn’t any excuse not to do it. There are 177 statements, you have to pick between the two, and you have 20 seconds for each. Average time on the test; 35 minutes.
As opposed to previous tests (and I’ve done many), the choices given don’t make me too uncomfortable. Whether you lean more towards the left or the right doesn’t really matter (as far as feelings go), you never really have to choose between two evils. In previous tests I’d done, this was the case and many left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.., nothing positive about it.
Finding my Strengths
The result of the test can be mighty surprising.., but the more conscious you are of yourself, the better you’d be able to anticipate the results. If you are really, really surprised by the results, then you have a lot to learn about yourself. Either way, the results are strengths, and should be perceived as such. They are not weaknesses, so it shouldn’t be really bad news.
Also, the questions and results are not something somebody just thought up. These are developed over the years with the participation of tens of millions of people. So we can safely assume the results are accurate…, as long as you’ve been honest during the test. Lying to yourself would defeat the purpose of the test and would skew any result, and any journey afterwards.
My results then:
In that order, meaning Intellection is my strongest strength. As mentioned, these are my top 5 results, if I give them more money, they will tell me the other 29.
What does it all mean?
Well, the point is that any goal you set becomes more achievable because you are now aware of your strengths.
And, judging from the fact that there at least 29 more strengths available, you can get a very, and I mean very, detailed idea of what it is you are capable of. So, at one end I’d say stick with the 5, these are plenty of work and are, after all, the top 5, so there’s that. But.., talking with Maureen about it, having the other 29 would paint a (much) better picture of your character.
See it as painting with just 5 colours, or with 34, you can do more (update: I did buy the rest, and it’s quite a list).
Personal or Teams?
Your strengths are personal to you, not only does the assessment provide you these strengths, it also gives a extended explanation of each strength. Providing a welcome insight into what it all means. And this is personal to you. The texts are put together based on all the information you’ve given, my clarification of Positivity will not be the same as yours. Simply because of the other strengths.
Discussing certain philosophies, theories, or concepts with them might prove to be exhilarating – Excerpt from Intellection
The cool thing is, when you have a team/group/department take the assessment you will have an insight into all their strengths. The advantage being, you have a collection of strengths that is broad across the spectrum.., and that means you can implement each strength where it is most effective.
So, instead of having one person performing a certain task, simply because it’s on their desk, might not be the most productive idea. Having tasks match strengths within a team makes much more sense.
There will be some strengths which might seem a bit out there, difficult to connect with. This is not necessarily an individual sentence, it can be the entire text which accompanies the strength. And it’s the entire list of personal strengths which compliment each other, and others within a team. So, it can become a complex web to figure out.
This is where we separate the wheat from the chaff.
See, having all these words is one thing.., knowing how to interpret them is something completely different, and, honestly, not that easy to do.
Maureen describes it as learning to read all over again. The results of the assessment, your strengths, are merely your ABC… Putting these letters into words and into meaningful sentences takes practice. And having a certified instructor (by Gallup) to help you with this is not just a good idea, it’s essential for success, depending on the level of success you want of course.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – Lao Tzu
I know, a cliché, but man, was he right or what? In the most literal sense you cannot deny this truth. In a metaphorical way, it is so profound that people still use this quote two and a half thousand(!) years later.
Anyway, where the assessment is your first step, your goal is your destination. See, you need to work towards something, this is key. You cannot just, or simply, implement the strengths, some sort of meaning has to be put to them, a guidance, a goal.
What lies between is your journey, and according to Maureen, this can be a tough one.
Not only do yo need to work on developing your strengths, you will also find out what is holding you back in the first place. And this can cause some.., well, uncomfortable moments, because usually it’s those weaknesses you’re all to familiar with which stand in the way of you succeeding. But, now that you have something positive to focus on, that might become easier.
Still, even though a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, you still have to walk the rest of the bloody thousand miles.
To Be Continued
As I’ve mentioned, finding my strengths is just the beginning of the journey, meaning there will be no conclusion in this article. I still have to do the walk.
And I do not know how my journey will be, I hope I can make it to the destination, but that will be up to me. Strengths don’t tell us what we want, they tell us how to get it. Of course, your goal has to be in the realm of reality. I can’t simply pack up and choose a totally different career, although, when you know your strengths, this would be a great advantage.
Anyway, judging from Maureen’s success stories, this journey should be more than worth it.., but I will let you know.
5 thoughts on “Finding my Strengths with Gallup’s StrengthsFinder”
Rogier, what a lovely, thoughtful post. Your thousand mile journey is off to a remarkable start! Your interpretation of why it is a worthy endeavor is right on. And I am honored to walk beside you on that path. For those who may not yet be familiar with the Strengthsfinder, the StrengthsFinder measures how we think, execute, relate, and influence – it goes far deeper than a personality test. Rogier’s results show that he has three thinking strengths: Intellection – processes info like a computer almost. Futuristic – Rogier is looking at the forward horizon, rather than the historic one. Think Carl Sagan. Strategic – he connects dots where others see chaos. He’s a pathfinder to the promised land especially because he can combine it with Futuristic. Rogier has Positivity, which is a relating strength. He turns up the temperature in the room, or on the team, by injecting optimism. That’s why it helps him form relationships. We like to be around positive people. Finally, Rogier has an executing strength called Consistency. Think compliance, process, probably not a big rule breaker. We had quite a fun discussion about a partnership strategy between us because I am very low in Consistency – it’s #33 for me. I don’t like rules. I don’t want to follow your process. But, we can think of times when following the process is the very best thing to do. Rogier could help me with that – which is a much better plan than me investing my precious energy in something I will never do well. This journey is one of energy management – focus on your strengths to achieve success rather than fixing your weaknesses. One last point about Rogier’s rock star awesomeness. When he unlocked his 34 strengths, we learned something amazing! Rogier has a whole bunch of influencing talent in his top 10 strengths. That would have been overlooked on our journey if we hadn’t unlocked his 34 strengths. Influencing people is a big part of success in the corporate world. I believe Rogier is a thought leader. Thought leaders shape the future, and influence people to follow them, so his influencing strengths can now be put to good use. I am dying to dive into Rogier’s total package so we can make that walk he spoke about. I don’t know where we will land yet, but I know this: Rogier will have a much greater ability to communicate his value proposition with confidence and clarity – and that goes a very long way in helping him achieve his goals, or shine brightly in a job interview. Thanks again, Rogier, for the chance to work with you and be part of your marvelous podcast. My brother listened to it (he’s a thinker, too!) and thought you and John made a very effective pair of hosts. It’s 5:45 AM in Berkley, Michigan, and this was one wonderful way to start my day! Onward!
Lovely words as ever Maureen, for which I thank you. But also a great addition to the post. It’s an excellent way to see my strengths from the perspective of an expert. It goes to show that interpretation and translation are a hugely important part of understanding the StrengthsFinder, and the difference between just having the results and putting them to good use,
Thanks for your comment and your continious support.
I am on a similar journey of discovery, thanks to the wonderful Maureen Monte. I haven’t reached my destination yet but I’ve stopped off on some amazing places along the way, as a result of the insight I got from better connecting with my strengths (my top 5 are Restorative, Belief, Empathy, Connectedness & Developer for those curious). The language of the Strengthsfinder report is not a habit for me yet, I’m not sure it ever will be if I’m honest, but for me it’s less about the reports and the descriptions. What I’ve taken from “finding my strengths” is the absolute belief and conviction that if we want to get the best out of ourselves and others then we need to understand what they love doing. Trying to performance manage someone into a job or a task is time and energy wasted and more importantly, an opportunity lost!
I wish you all the best on your journey, wherever it may take you!
Thanks so much for sharing that wiht us Sarah.., and what awesome strenghts do you have. To be honest, I expected some of those to be a bit higher up for me, as it turns out, they’re not, which is interesting and a learning point.
Already I’m more inspired to take certain actions than I was before I “found my strengths”, and being on this journey with Maureen gives me even more, and a good deal of hope for the future.
I hope to share my results in the future too. We’ll see where it leads, I’ve just started.
Sarah! Thanks so much for coming out to play with us! I will always treasure the note you sent me after you’d been using your strengths for a year or so. You said it made you a better teammate (I’m paraphrasing) – and that it changed the dynamics on the team. I’m so happy you came by and supported Rogier. We’re all on the same path whether we know it or now – why are we here and how can we make a difference? Thanks again – Maureen