Now, Discover Your Strengths

Last summer at the EDUCAUSE Management Institute I won a challenge the faculty gave the participants. We had to think of five things to share about ourselves, share these observations with the group at our table, and then write up a list of everything we could remember about the others at our table. I don’t know if it was the caffeine or my interest in the challenge, but I won.

My prize was the book Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. I’d seen Buckingham speak at EDUCAUSE and was interested to read the book. But it’s been a busy year (no director and all) so it wasn’t until this past week, while on vacation, that I got the chance to read it.

The book is structured around Clifton’s work on positive psychology. There are two basic premises:

  • Each person’s talents are enduring and unique.
  • Each person’s greatest room for growth is in the areas of his or her greatest strength.

Most people feel that to improve, they need to build up their weaknesses; Buckingham and Clifton argue that to really excel you should develop your strengths and manage around your weaknesses.

A central part of the book is taking the Gallup Organization’s Strengths Finder survey. The survey identifies your top 5 strengths after you answer more than 100 Likert scale questions.

For the curious, my strengths turn out to be:

Thanks to Baylor for the linked descriptions. It’s also interesting that Baylor has given all of their employees the survey. The book makes a recommendation that organizations consider doing such a thing, but that’s an expensive proposition and I don’t know if I’ve had enough of the Kool Aid to invest so much in one instrument. Still, it might be something we could do on a smaller scale if anyone is interested…

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