One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment. ~Hart Crane
In a perfect world, we would be able to write to our hearts content. We wouldn’t have to worry about pesky little things like jobs, bills, and other responsibilities. Sigh…wouldn’t that be just grand?
The world spends a lifetime teaching us how to improve our weaknesses. Be a better manager, be more organized, be more assertive, be better at time management etc. Even disguised as positive statements, the underlying idea is that you are lacking at something. From the moment we’re born to the moment we die, we spend far more time on what we can’t do rather than improving our areas of strength. That’s sad and unproductive. This is why we love/relate to underdog stories. To borrow the analogy used in the book Strengths Finder 2.0, let’s take a look at Rudy. He was a man who, against all odds, overcame his lack of natural talent and abilities to play for 30 seconds in a Notre Dame football game and made a tackle. This is a great story, but it demonstrates that “Overcoming deficits is an essential part of the fabric of our culture”. We celebrate overcoming impossible odds and make these folks instant heroes.
Countless examples of how society focuses on weaknesses instead of strengths abound in this book. I’m a parent. How many times have I seen my child’s report card and said, “Wow, good job on making that A, but let’s talk about that B in this class. How can we improve that grade?” Unfortunately, that scenario has happened a lot. (I hang my head in shame.) What if we had a tool that showed us our core talents? What if it then showed us how to apply those strengths and gave us ideas for action? Pretty wonderful, no?
My husband came home from work the other day so excited about something he and his partners discovered. He found a wonderful book called Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath and made me read the first two chapters before I could cook dinner. I couldn’t imagine what was so great about another self help book that showed me all the work I needed to do on myself. I already know that I’m a procrastinator, an introvert at heart, a day dreamer, and have no interest in balancing check books! I was so wrong.
A man named Donald Clifton Ph.D., the Father of Strengths-Based Psychology, created the Clifton StrengthsFinder. Mr. Rath has taken the original test and added a few extra ingredients. The book has some amazing information in it plus you receive a code located in the book that allows you to take the StrengthsFinder test. By the end of the weekend, my whole family had read the chapters and taken the test. I discovered some talents that I had only been vaguely aware of in my life. My top five strongest talents are: Achiever, Communication, Individualization, Analytical, and Connectedness. Who knew?
I’m now going to take this knowledge and apply it. Some of this I’ve done intuitively, but other things came as a surprise. For instance, my tests showed that I have strong analytical skills. I almost fell over. I would never have put myself in that category, yet when presented with the idea that I had to be responsible for marketing-which I stink at- I quickly came up with some sound ideas that no one else in my writing chapter had created. Now that I’m aware of this strength, I won’t be so quick to dismiss my musings.
Bottom line, discover your strengths and play to them. Place your energies in making yourself better with what’s already inside you. This sounds so deceptively easy, yet it is incredibly difficult when presented with societal norms. I guarantee that if you focus your energies on using what gifts you have rather than always trying to cultivate what doesn’t come naturally, your job, work and other responsibilities will improve! This, of course, leads to better writing time
Okay, who knew? I knew! I could have told you this. Wait… wait… I actually have told you this.;)
What I’m saying is that YES, you have these strengths. And I think everyone (me, too) dismisses what their friends and family compliment them on, in favor of either (a) their own self-critical/perfectionistic thoughts or (b) the fact that they’re not impressed with this skill because it’s so innate to them.
I’m so glad you’re recommending this book, and I’m heading out now to buy it!
And the title of this post is my favorite phrase of the month!
Stacey said: My top five strongest talents are: Achiever, Communication, Individualization, Analytical, and Connectedness. Who knew?
Anyone who knows you, dearheart…:) Anyone who knows you…:)
I can hear Diane yelling from her corner of the Pitch University World! She’s right, of course- she has told me these things about myself. She’s also right that we do dismiss these compliments…and we shouldn’t. Ok, so I’m a slow learner. 🙂
Enjoy the book, Diane!
Well apparently, my friends know me better than I know myself. Hi Will!
Great post. I have, from time to time, asked my kids to write down things they’ve liked about themselves, especially when they were having difficulties at school or with self-esteem.
I’m now rethinking that idea. It occurred to me while reading this post that whatever they may like about themselves would only be superficial and not real qualities. How could they list something they may not even be aware of?
Maybe asking what they thought their strengths were then having them read this book and take the test will show them things they never knew.
I could certainly use a confidence booster, so I’m going to check the book out and see what I don’t know about myself, too.
Thank you for the post!
Excellent post! Just bought the book!!!
Very good post, I like the way you made it personal and didn’t make it seem like another pitch… now to find the book… Thanks!
Hi Robin- after Peter made me read the first couple of chapters, I knew I wanted the kids to partake as well! I also knew what my blog this week would be on. 🙂
It’s hard for kids to write down their strengths because ideas about themselves are just forming and they’re discovering new things everyday. Having a tool like this for Garrett and Kayla was fascinating. Not only were they surprised, but Peter and I were too! My son especially surprised us with how strong he placed in some categories- It made for interesting discussions.
I hope you enjoy the book as much as we did. I thought it was a very interesting premise and I agree with the author in that the world always focuses on the negative. Building on strengths seems intuitive to me and so much more worthwhile.
Thanks for your kind words, Nevea! I have to admit your comment took me by surprise because I never even thought of my article as being a pitch…but I guess it was in a round about sort of way! The author just got some free advertising and I didn’t even realize it. Hmmmmm…maybe I should send him a bill. 🙂
It’s such a refreshing and unique idea to approach yourself in light of your strengths. Made me feel kind of like a superhero. I now have a better understanding on how to approach all the millions of thing I need to accomplish each day- and since I’m an achiever, I better get cracking.
The dry cleaners lost my superhero cape.
This book might be just what I need right now. Thanks for posting
An introvert? You? Do I KNOW you? LOL!
Great post, Stacey. I’ll have to look into this book.
My superhero cape is always getting mis-placed!! It’s like Diane said above- either our own critical perfectionism gets in the way or we don’t acknowledge our gifts because they come too easily. I hope you enjoy reading through the book, Kristen! It was an eye opener for me.
Yes, Jenn- I AM an introvert. My public face is something that I’ve cultivated over the years. It is a learned trait. I have to have so many alone hours a day in order to cope with my public persona. Surprising? I’m a very good student.
Weird…reading this makes me feel very vulnerable.