He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened. – Lao Tzu

I cannot sing, dance, or act. Regardless how passionately I longed as a kid to be a Broadway triple threat, my desire could not compensate for lack of talent. Lining the pockets of coaches and teachers for years would never have moved me beyond the level of barely competent, at best. Fortunately, I recognized the folly and pursued the path of visual artist. A path well-chosen.

Do you need reassurance that your path was the right vocational choice, or do you need to reevaluate the decision you decided on? StrengthsFinder 2.0: Discover Your CliftonStrengths from Gallup and Tom Rath can help.

The backflap verbiage unpacks the book’s title: “In 1998, the Father of Strengths Psychology, Don Clifton (1924-2003), created the original StrengthsFinder assessment and its 34 talent themes. In 2017, Gallup changed the name to ‘CliftonStrengths’ in honor of its inventor. Rooted in 40 years of Clifton’s research, CliftonStrengths has helped millions discover their innate talents.”

To summarize: CliftonStrengths is the assessment tool and StrengthsFinder 2.0 the book, is the portal (via an access code) to the online assessment (170+ questions) as well as a guide to implement the results.

70 years ago, Dr. Clifton asked: What would happen if we studied what was right with people rather than what was wrong? What if we identified and developed what people have in abundance naturally?

According to the book, the key to human development is building on who you already are. And that’s a motivating notion to mull over as we continue to hunker down.

I am larger, better than I thought; I did not know I held so much goodness.                                                                                                                            – Walt Whitman

How to use this book:

  • Take the test. 30 minutes later you will be anointed with 5 “strengths” (or rather 5 talent themes, but “talent theme” won’t sell a book).
  • Read about each of your strengths. The book describes all 34 in detail and provides 10 helpful “Ideas for Action” to develop your talents at home and work.
  • For leaders: Utilize the results and utilize your team! A how-to-work-with-others section for each strength will help you help them thrive and flourish.

Here’s a compilation of my co-worker’s results (names have been changed):

If a leader devised a project that required a person of action, amenable to last minute changes, to contribute to the grand vision and enthusiastically sell it, a wise and strategic leader would look to Andrew. Andrew would shine and reward the leader with genuine engagement.

Assigning the task to anyone else would be a mistake. Rachel, for example, miserable with the selling aspect, could potentially sink the whole endeavor along with her morale.

A wise and strategic leader would instead assign Rachel a project that benefitted from her behind the scenes talents. Another approach might consider how she and Andrew’s working styles complemented each other on the same project.

Asked to evaluate the usefulness of workplace personality tests in general, one co-worker shared:

They can be great — if the assessments end up actually being utilized. A lot of times people take these tests, get their results, share them, and then forget about them. Imagine if leadership, tasks, and follow-through were all box-ticked based on the result of each team member’s personality. Imagine if our strengths were put to use: someone else could take up the slack for our so-called “weaknesses” – because that would be their strength.

In search of motivation as you shelter at home or transition back to a workplace? Consider this book. It just might brush the dust off your finer self, or, you might find, in the words of Quiet author Susan Cain: “…a new found sense of entitlement to be yourself.”

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