Finding your strengths = following your bliss

Since January is usually a time when people think about the coming year and what they’d like to change in their lives (or what they’d like to be experiencing by the end of this year), it seems like the perfect month to write about finding your strengths.

First, an aside about strategies to enjoy life and be successful. Some of us have learned that we need to develop our weaknesses in order to be successful.

You should be more whatever.

How do you feel when someone says that to you? What is presupposed here?

Now try this on:

Wow, you are really great at whatever!

How do you feel? What’s the difference?  Which statement is more motivating? Inspiring?

On the whole, it is more joyful and productive to build on your strengths. People who do what they’re good at and like doing are more engaged in their work and have a higher quality of life.

Last year I learned about a book called Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. This book is a Wall Street Journal bestseller, but it has wide applications, not just business.

By the way, only buy the book new, not used, for reasons given below. It’s currently $10.61 on Amazon.com. Click the link above to view and order. The full retail price is $24.95.

Background in brief: For 40 years, the Gallup Poll people have studied human strengths. A couple of guys narrowed them down to 34 different strengths and developed an assessment to help people find their strengths. That’s the basis of Strengths Finder 2.0.

A new copy of the book has an access code at the back to take the assessment online. I took it and received a summary that lists my top five strengths in order, applications for each strength, and quotes from real people who share my top five strengths.

These are my top five strengths in order:

  1. Maximizer (by the way, this book appeals to Maximizers )
  2. Adaptability
  3. Relator
  4. Activator
  5. Futuristic

One note: On some of the questions, I felt that I might answer one way today, a different way tomorrow. I pretty much sped through it, which is encouraged. It would be interesting to take the assessment once a year for several years to see how much my top five strengths change or remain the same.

Now a little about my strengths:

  • Maximizer means I measure myself by excellence. I polish the pearl until it shines. Others see me as discriminating. I’m attracted to people who have found and cultivated their strengths [and who want to find and cultivate them].
  • Adaptability means I live in the present. The future isn’t fixed but a place I create out of choices I make now. I don’t resent sudden requests or unforeseen detours for long — I expect them and at some level look forward to them.
  • Relator means I’m attracted to people I already know and want to get to know them better. I don’t shy away from new people, but I do get a lot of pleasure from being around my friends. If you don’t know me, don’t let this scare you. Every friend was once a stranger who came into my life.
  • Activator is about doing. Only action makes things happen. Once a decision is made, I cannot not act. I believe that action is the best device for learning. I put myself out there and take the next step.
  • Futuristic is about seeing possibilities, which pulls me forward. I am fascinated by the direction of energy from the past through the present into the future. Futuristic initially seemed to conflict with Adaptability, but I think having these two in my top five strengths as well as Activator means I like manifesting, actualizing, realizing.

Based on these five strengths, my mission statement is:

I am passionate about manifesting excellence with my friends.

I like it!

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