At a meeting I attended this week, we were reminded of the potential positive outcomes of taking a strengths-based, rather than deficit-based, approach to advising and educating students. One of the tools commonly used for assisting students with discovering their strengths is Gallup’s Strengthfinder. It’s been more than a decade since I took that test, and it’s been ages since I’ve thought about it. But, educational hoarder that I am, I still had it filed away and was able to locate it. Here are the top 5 themes it identified for me and a brief explanation of each, personalized from my responses. I’d have to say that it still seems to be a pretty good fit!
Learner. People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them. Chances are good that you may be a solo performer. You might be determined to broaden your knowledge or acquire new skills. Perhaps you are drawn to the process of education. By nature, you examine documents, read books, listen to lectures, or research subjects to help people find the information they need. This means you spend hours, days, weeks, or even months expanding your knowledge base. In the process of assisting another person, you generally move closer to your own goals. Because of your strengths, you may ponder options rather than react without thinking through things. Sometimes you weigh the ramifications, consequences, outcomes, or effects. Sometimes you aim to understand the basic “whys” and “hows” of a situation, problem, or opportunity. Individuals might trust you to be cautious. They might expect you to raise important issues that require further consideration. Instinctively, you periodically apply your mental energy to identifying factors that contributed to the current situation. Perhaps you automatically search for reasons why specific events happened, particular problems occurred, or certain solutions worked. It’s very likely that you value education and scholarship at any level and at any age. Your thirst for knowledge causes you to explore many topics of study or specialize in one particular subject. You thoroughly enjoy opportunities to acquire additional information, skills, and experiences.
Input. People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information. Driven by your talents, you are the ideal example of a person with an open and agile mind. Thinking consumes a great portion of your time. You like to exchange ideas with individuals who are as well-read as you are. Your passion for the written word fuels your thought processes and lays the groundwork for sophisticated conversations. When you are alone, you probably reflect upon the thoughts of brilliant writers or the findings of notable researchers. Instinctively, you notice that you choose to spend time with particularly intelligent adults. Besides enjoying their company and mature thinking, you welcome the opportunity to engage in sophisticated, knowledgeable, and thoughtful conversation. You amass numerous ideas, theories, or concepts from these encounters. Often the insights you gain have proved to be quite useful days, weeks, months, or even years later. By nature, you read to stimulate your mind, to broaden your perspective, and to explore familiar as well as unfamiliar subjects. Reading is a solitary activity, which is one of the reasons why you like it so much. You are quite comfortable being alone with your books and your thoughts. Chances are good that you feast on the ideas in books and other printed material. In the process of reading, you accumulate lots of information for its own sake. During the week, you likely spend several hours reflecting on your treasure trove of facts, data, history, or research. Often one or two of your newfound concepts, theories, or findings consumes the majority of your thinking time. Because of your strengths, you prepare for assignments by reading extensively. Your capacity for pulling together information from books, publications, correspondence, notes, or Internet sites serves you well. As a result, you often avoid feelings of self-reproach — that is, blaming yourself for not knowing something you should have known.
Intellection. People who are especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions. It’s very likely that you occasionally go off by yourself to think through things. By nature, you sometimes derive pleasure from work that requires intense, thorough, or careful consideration of the facts. Maybe you weigh the consequences of what you do, fail to do, or say. Your precision might become a bit more apparent to people when you concentrate on small, factual details. Accuracy mightalso be noted when you adhere to prescribed policies, procedures, standards, or specifications. Instinctively, you might take time to reflect on certain topics or issues. Perhaps your thinking becomes more expansive when you delve into your particular areas of expertise or specialized skills. Driven by your talents, you sometimes evaluate ideas, theories, or philosophies by looking at them from every possible angle. Because of your strengths, you have new ideas whirling around in your head much of the time. You are very interested in solving problems, conceiving new concepts, designing plans, or understanding everyday matters.
Achiever. People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive. Instinctively, you might resist being held back, restrained, or controlled by people or events. Perhaps you prefer to be in charge of situations, materials, schedules, budgets, human resources, processes, or decisions. Waiting for someone else to issue orders or level judgments may not be your forte — that is, strength. Driven by your talents, you may labor for hours when the money you earn allows you to provide for your family’s needs. To some degree, your work ethic permits you to give loved ones specific things you did or did not have as a child. Because of your strengths, you might consider certain things you need to do better as a person or as a professional. When you are reflecting on important matters, you might be surprised to discover how many hours have passed without your even noticing. It’s very likely that you occasionally spend hours unraveling the mysteries of complicated procedures, routines, or systems. Perhaps your step-by-step descriptions help individuals understand how something operates. By nature, you may decide for yourself what course of action to take. Sometimes you work in earnest to see clear distinctions between right and wrong. Maybe you ignore what others think or say about your core values or code of ethics.
Responsibility. People who are especially talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty. It’s very likely that you may reject the idea that telling a falsehood about something unimportant is acceptable. Perhaps you refuse to make an innocent social excuse to protect someone’s feelings. Because of your strengths, you may have a reputation for exhibiting more adult-like behavior than a few of your colleagues, teammates, classmates, friends, or others. Some individuals regard you as an expert in your field. Perhaps they notice you are talented, skilled, and/or knowledgeable. When certain people appreciate these traits, you might be motivated to use them on a daily basis. By nature, you experience pangs of remorse when you realize you failed to do something you promised to do. You feel awful when you do not do something correctly. You probably regret having compromised your basic values about right and wrong. Driven by your talents, you may refuse to shirk obligations. You might be particularly eager to fulfill your commitments. Perhaps you are described as earnest and dependable. Instinctively, you might shoulder your obligations and duties with relative ease. You might be motivated to behave in ways that cause individuals to say you are dependable.
Of course, the next question I’ll need to contemplate is Am I using these strengths – and leveraging any obstacles that would prevent me from using them – to help me along my journey towards the life balance I seek?