Strengthsfinder 2.0 argues that we should forget about fixing our weaknesses, and go all in on our strengths instead, by showing you ways to figure out which 5 key strengths are an innate part of you and giving you advice on how to use them in your life and work.
Tom Rath might well be what most people consider a prodigy. In spite of being diagnosed with a rare disease called VHL at the age of 16, he still went on to become a successful psychologist, who, after 13 years of leading Gallup’s (the company who does all the polls) research and consulting for employee engagement, switched to an advisory role.
Throughout his time at Gallup, he’s written 8 books, many of which have gone on to become bestsellers, and have sold over 5 million copies total. Strengthsfinder 2.0 is his most popular book and it’s all about, well, finding your strengths.
Gary Vaynerchuk would love this, I can hear him in my head as I’m writing this. Here are 3 lessons to help you figure out what you’re good at:
- Don’t try to fix your flaws, double down on your strengths instead.
- Believers and Futurists are a great team of co-founders.
- If you seek strong social bonds, you might be a Harmonizer or a Responsible.
Ready to discover some of your strengths? Here we go!
Lesson 1: Exaggerate your strengths instead of fixing your flaws.
This point wasn’t particularly outlined in a specific blink, but I thought it’s definitely worth emphasizing again. Yes, we all have bad habits we want to break, and sometimes, this is necessary. But more often than now, we spend way too much time ironing out the wrinkles in our shirts and fixing every little chink in our armor, instead of doing what we’re already good at.
If you suck at sports and just don’t enjoy going to the gym, then why the hell force yourself to go there 3 times a week? Do the minimum that’s good for you and take an extended walk outside each day – those 10,000 steps will get you 80% of the way there.
Then, spend the rest of the day and additional time reading, if you’re really good at that and can absorb information like a sponge. Focusing on your strengths is also the way to winning at work.
Tom identified 34 characteristic strengths and in the book helps you match yours with his findings, so you can figure out which ones dominate your life. Knowing whether you need to be in charge to thrive, play a supporting role, work for yourself or be friends with everyone is the only way to excel.
Lesson 2: Believers and Futurists make for great co-founders.
Of course I can’t outline all 34 strengths here (neither do the blinks), but we can at least take a peek at some of the most important ones. Let’s start with Believers.
A Believer is someone who can’t separate motivation from belief. If you pick English as your major in college, but can’t even get out of bed for the first semester, because you see no sense in studying Shakespeare’s texts, then chances are you not only need a change, but also must find something you believe in so strongly that it’ll become your reason for waking up.
But beliefs are so subjective and individual that it’s often hard for Believers to find an organization that’s exactly in line with their core values – so they end up starting their own. Once they do, a Futurist will make a great co-founder.
Futurists aren’t tied down by the rules and can see beyond what most people think is possible. They create their own vision of the future and paint pictures so vivid they inspire the people they lead to deliver their best work and change for the better.
When a Believer comes up with an idealistic idea for a business, a Futurist can help give form to what that vision will look like and paint the future, which the both of them then create together.
Lesson 3: If you seek strong social bonds, you might be a Harmonizer or a Responsible.
Two more characteristic strength types are Harmonizers and Responsibles. They’re similar, but differ in one key aspect: the way they strive to attain social recognition.
A Harmonizer will always try to find the most diplomatic solution, to which anyone involved can agree, so a social consensus is reached. If you really care about making everyone happy, then this might be your type. In that case, you’ll thrive where teamwork is essential, hierarchies are flat, and everyone shares the same beliefs. And while your harmonizing skills are hopefully appreciated, make sure you don’t waste too much time optimizing and look at the clock sometimes so you don’t slow your team down.
If you’re not a Harmonizer, but it’s still important to you to have a good reputation, then you might be a Responsible, like me. Responsibles try to never let anyone down and fulfill the roles they agree to take on as best as possible. That makes people like me great for jobs where reliability matters above all, but puts them in danger of taking on too much (happened to me recently). Recognize yourself? Then start practicing to say “No” every now and then – you know it’ll be good for you and everyone around you.
My personal take-aways
This summary did a perfect job, because now I’m incredibly curious as to what the other 20-something types of strengths are and of course makes me want to take a test (which is in the book) to figure out my own. A book I’ll get really soon after reading this set of blinks. If you want to explore a few more types before deciding, check out the summary, if not, just get the book.