StrengthsFinder and Why Your Strengths Matter More Than Your Weaknesses
Raise your hand if you hate this question,
"What's your greatest weakness?"
Ugh, groan. This is quite possibly the WORST interview question ever. I know in my years in Corporate America, I struggled to find an answer for it.
You know why it's the worst ever? Because it's the wrong freakin' question, and it's the wrong focus.
I knew this deep-down, but didn't know why until I discovered StrengthsFinder. Simply described, StrengthsFinder is a book that comes with an online assessment anyone can take to identify their five key strengths.
Upon taking this quiz and reading its supplemental book, I was blown away by its simple but powerful premise: forget your weaknesses, what really matters are your strengths.
Using StrengthsFinder led me to some major insights that I think might have tremendous benefit and encouragement for you as a small business owner or career professional. So here we go.
If you focus on developing your weaknesses: you're actually working towards being more mediocre.
This was the biggest a-ha for me after reading the StrengthsFinder book.
We're all taught to improve ourselves - to focus on our weaknesses and improve, right? Well StrengthsFinder points out why that's so backwards. The problem with the initial philosophy is it assumes we can be great ateverything. But in actuality...
1) You can't be great at everything (because there are just too many things).
2) But you can be great at a few things (your strengths).
So if you focus on your weaknesses, you're pouring your time and energy into the things you're only OK at. And meanwhile, you aren't developing the handful of things that you really shine at.
So you're basically aiming for the middle, and lucky if you get there.
Taking the pressure off your weaknesses will empower you to build up your strengths.
Understanding the philosophy and why it can be backwards / detrimental to spend too much time on weakness was something I really loved about reading this book and taking the online test.
When weakness became a much smaller part of the equation, I felt so much more empowered to see myself as strong and having specific strengths that could help people. After taking the test, I was given five core strengths that gave me a ton of insight and a means to talk about what I can do well for others.
To give you an example - from 34 possible StrengthsFinder strength profiles, here are my top 5 - in order - with a brief description beside each one:
- Strategic: "This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity." (Learn more)
- Developer: "You see the potential in others. Very often, in fact, potential is all you see." (Learn more)
- Futuristic: "As if it were projected on the wall, you see in detail what the future might hold, and this detailed picture keeps pulling you forward, into tomorrow."(Learn more)
- Positivity: "You are generous with praise, quick to smile, and always on the lookout for the positive in the situation." (Learn more)
- Ideation: "You revel in taking the world we all know and turning it around so we can view it from a strange but strangely enlightening angle." (Learn more)
I was totally fascinated by these results. Here's a bit of what these led to for me:
- Embracing being "strategic" and talking about what I do as "strategy." I thought for sure I'd get empathy as my lead strength and never "strategic" - I'd always thought the concept of strategy felt cold, and a little bit invented/contrived - the anthithesis of the work I do. What I learned though is that being Strategic, at least in a StrengthsFinder context, is about being empathetic in a way. It's about championing ideas and people and seeing possiblity in lots of situations. So this has led me to be a lot more comfortable with using strategy as a positive, creative, and empowering descriptor of the work I do.
- Further defining my own purpose and mission in my work, and being able to talk more easily about it with others. As you might even be able to tell from the short descriptions above, most of these strengths are about encouragement / empowerment. Reading the profiles led me to see that the work I do with Greatest Story - whether it's for your business or even your wedding - is all about championing you and bringing your story to life. It's about coming up with the ideas of how to do that and how to develop your strengths / bring them to life through creativity in the work I do.
- Understanding more relationships in my life. Funnily enough, my husband Gus and I share two strengths! We are both Futuristic and Developers, and his lead strength is Empathy. It interesting to find we had these sides of ourselves in common and it does help explain that we thrive in our relationship a lot when we make plans for the future and we help each other (develop) / pursue our own dreams. This exercise has also better informed me of where I can shine in helping people and to see the strengths that others have along the way.
So, what are your greatest strengths?
That's the conversation I'm most interested in having. I think it's the most productive one we can have, and for that reason - it's a cornerstone of the work I do, in particular with small business owners.
I can't say enough good things about StrengthsFinder. If you get it, make sure to get the hardcover to ensure you get the code for the quiz easily (we had issues trying to do this with Kindle).
For a fairly inexpensive book and little 35-minute assessment, I've gotten more than I could have ever expected from it. If you do it and love it, know that's just the beginning.
There's a ton written about each strength profile and you can take it further by working with a coach to better capitalize on the insights from the tool. In fact, one of my frequent collaborators and good friends, Jim Reklis, offers great one-on-one sessions to delve deeper into your StrengthsFinder profile and take action from them. Connect with Jim / learn more at his site,www.rekliscoachingandconsulting.com.
I hope you have an awesome week and that to the extent you can, you can kick that garbage "what's your biggest weakness" question to the curb. If you need help, leave a comment and tell me one thing you do that you'd consider a strength. I bet you can think of one, and I'd love to know.