One Sentence Summary of “Strengths Finder 2.0” : Our society does not put enough emphasis on our strengths, yet knowing and developing them is extremely important for our success and our happiness; Strengths Finder 2.0 lets you discover precisely what they are and work on them to help you become a better you.
by Tom Rath, 175 pages, published in 2007.
Summary and Book Report of Strengths Finder 2.0 :
This book is not like other books. First, you are probably only going to read a little bit of it. Then, because it lets you take a psychology test on line that is going to figure out your five predominant strengths from 34 possible strengths, and give you 10 actions for each of these strengths to allow you to exercise it and develop it to its full potential.
The author, a Director of the Gallup Poll company, begins by presenting his vision for personal development: for him, it’s better to focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses. Yet our society in general puts the emphasis on what it takes to overcome our weaknesses, which according to him, is an enormous waste of time and energy.
According to Tom Rath, if we don’t work in a sector or domaine that allows us to use our strengths, it is likely that we :
- Don’t enjoy going to work
- Have more negative than positive interactions with our coworkers
- Don’t treat our customers very well
- Tell our friends that our lot in life is not very interesting
- Do less on a daily basis
- Have fewer positive and creative moments in our life
Tom Rath tells us that he thinks it is stupid to focus on our weaknesses rather than our strengths. For him, the result is the product of a simple equation: talent x work = results. Using a scale of 1 to 5, let’s suppose that you are working feverishly in an area in which you are naturally mediocre. The result will be 2 x 5 = 10. Now, if you work hard, but not pushing yourself too hard, in an area in which you are naturally gifted, the result will be 5 x 4 = 20.
Thus, the American saying “You can be anything you want to be, if you work hard enough” is bad advice. Not everyone can become an NBA star or a football star, even if they work really hard. The success of American basketball star, Michael Jordan is the product of an innate talent and working with a passion. His talents were particularly well adapted to basketball: when he wanted to turn to golf, that was another story…
But in order to work on your strengths, you must first identify them.
The objective of the book, which is above all an entry key to the online questionnaire which compares our responses to a base of 10 million people who have replied and who have been analyzed, is to determine our strengths (of this 10 million, we are assured that approximately 7 million of them have not had the chance to work or to concentrate on what they do best).
So you read the first 30 pages of the book, move on to the online questionnaire in about 40 minutes, then you can get the results: the practice pages for each of your strengths, described in the book in a static way, just like they were in version 1, and in an interactive way in the PDF, which is automatically generated, which is to say that the description of each of your strengths will be influenced by your other four strengths, which therefore gives a very personalized report. Each strength is accompanied by ten suggested actions to develop it, and advice to interact with someone who is gifted with a certain strength, which you may or may not possess yourself.
Of all the psychology tests of this type that I have taken, Strengths Finder seems to me to be the most relevant and it especially gave me precise and concrete information which immediately changed my way of perceiving certain things and my way of doing certain things.
My 5 strengths are:
- Learner (Ability to learn)
- Ideation (Ability to conceptualize)
- Intellection (Ability to understand)
- Input (Ability to accumulate knowledge)
- Significance (A great capacity for leadership, ambition, to help or influence others)
These 5 strengths seemed to me to be extremely relevant given what I am doing.
Broadly speaking, the outcome of this is that I am someone with an important ability for learning and memorization. What’s more, I am then able to link this knowledge together to better understand it and to pull out concepts from it that help me in my ambitions. Further, the act of learning, is in itself very important to me, not only what I learn.
This book made me aware that what I was taking for ordinary characteristics of my personality are in fact the strengths that I should work on. Or rather, I realized with unprecedented clarity that these aspects are strengths that only need to be worked and reworked.
I read this book three or four months ago, and out of my research to find a project that allowed me to use my strengths came, in part, the idea for this crazy challenge. Also, I realized (and this is part of my Learner and Input strengths) that I read really fast compared with most readers and I retain and understand what I read very well.
I have read an average of 50 books a year for years (I kept an accurate count this year and I am at 34 in this 41st week of the year) on a variety of subjects. This has allowed me to cultivate a solid knowledge base.
But when I considered all my strengths, this act of reading about various subject areas seemed like poor training for a group of muscles: what would happen if I combined all my strengths and used them to focus on a single goal, to read only books grouped under a general subject, in order to multiply the effects of my Ideation and Intellection strengths, rather than spread them out?
One of my reasons for taking on this project was to answer this question 🙂
In order to show you the level of detail in the test, here, by way of example, is the point about my Ideation strength:
People who are especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.
Instinctively, you might handle whatever tasks come your way in the course of the day. Mind-numbing routines, processes, paperwork, or production lines sometimes bore you. On the other hand, you may thrive in environments where you must deal with unexpected requests, unanticipated problems, or changing priorities. Being somewhat flexible, you might enjoy creating solutions as needs arise.
Perhaps you think a bit better and accomplish a bit more when your ability to respond to situations on a moment’s notice is acknowledged, used, and appreciated. By nature, you have a rich vocabulary upon which to draw. The words you choose often expand and challenge your listeners’ or readers’ thinking.
Because of your strengths, you favor conversations where information, facts, or data are considered objectively — that is, emotions do not distort the truth.
You pose questions, evaluate answers, and figure out how things work. Reducing an idea, theory, or process to its most basic parts provides you with many insights. You are likely to archive — that is, preserve — your discoveries so you can use them later.
It’s very likely that you usually contribute more innovative ideas to group discussions than most people do. You actually help strangers, newcomers, or outsiders feel comfortable sharing their thoughts. You welcome their fresh ideas. Why? They often stimulate everyone’s thinking, including your own. Chances are good that you relish conversations with people whose vocabulary is as sophisticated as their thinking.
Discussing philosophies, theories, or concepts is exhilarating. You do not have to translate this or that word or explain the basic points of a complex thought. You love to ask questions and be readily understood. As engaged as you are in the dialogue, you still make a point of pulling together insights so you can use this knowledge later.
Ideas for action :
- Seek a career in which you will be given credit for and paid for your ideas, such as marketing, advertising, journalism, design, or new product development.
- You are likely to get bored quickly, so make some small changes in your work or home life. Experiment. Play mental games with yourself. All of these will help keep you stimulated.
- Finish your thoughts and ideas before communicating them. Lacking your Ideation talents, others might not be able to “join the dots” of an interesting but incomplete idea and thus might dismiss it.
- Not all your ideas will be equally practical or serviceable. Learn to edit your ideas, or find a trusted friend or colleague who can “proof” your ideas and identify potential pitfalls.
- Understand the fuel for your Ideation talents: When do you get your best ideas? When you’re talking with people? When you’re reading? When you’re simply listening or observing? Take note of the circumstances that seem to produce your best ideas, and recreate them.
- Schedule time to read, because the ideas and experiences of others can become your raw material for new ideas. Schedule time to think, because thinking energizes you.
- You are a natural fit with research and development; you appreciate the mindset of visionaries and dreamers. Spend time with imaginative peers, and sit in on their brainstorming sessions.
- Partner with someone with strong Analytical talents. This person will question you and challenge you, therefore strengthening your ideas.
- Sometimes you lose others’ interest because they cannot follow your abstract and conceptual thinking style. Make your ideas more concrete by drawing pictures, using analogies or metaphors, or simply explaining your concepts step by step.
- Feed your Ideation talents by gathering knowledge. Study fields and industries different from your own. Apply ideas from outside, and link disparate ideas to generate new ones
I personally find therefore that Strengths Finder is an extremely relevant and interesting book, that can be read in a remarkably short time and that can none the less change your life by making you aware with uncanny accuracy of your strengths, which you can transform with some work 😉
- Test results finely tuned to you personally
- Gives you 50 concrete actions to improve yourself, that you can put into practice from day one.
- It’s possible that not everyone will find the results relevant, whether because it questions what you believe about yourself, whether because the test is wrong, whether you were not in a good mood, etc. I offered this book to one of my employees and he told me that he found the results somewhat “classic.” But that’s a common complaint with numerous psychology tests.
So how do you like your job? Do you think you are able to use your talents? If you have read this book, what are your strengths? Take the survey and give it your review in the comments !
My score :
Have you read this book? How do you rate it?
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