At my college, Azusa Pacific University, every single college freshman took a test. Differing from a personality test, this online quiz examined more deeply into the way your mind worked and processed the world. Upon completion, you were told what your top five 'strengths' were. These Strengths, as listed out in the StengthsFinder book, are your biggest assets in life and career.
What is so special about the StregthsFinder test is that it helps you understand how you relate to the world and to think about these natural tendencies as your your personal gifts. The book teaches that the most successful people are not those who try and do everything well, but instead those who are able to build upon their strengths, while simply managing their weaknesses. These people know that being a Jack or Jill of all trades was not going to allow them to thrive or be happy, but instead focused on building their capacity, and ultimately success around their natural strengths.
What is great about taking StregthsFinder in a group is that it helps you appreciate the people around you and how they work. I have done this test with multiple staff teams I have been on and the discussion that came as a result always led to an improved work environment and more appreciation for one another.
My five strengths are as follows:
1. Communication. I like to listen and be heard. I want to clarify ideas so that the actual thing intended to be communicated is in fact what is heard. I love developing marketing materials for this matter - so that the real message is conveyed.
2. WOO. This stands for winning others over. It means I am a natural leader, and can convince people to walk with me in whatever pursuit I may be pulling them into. I can establish some level of trust with people. When I first heard this strength, I didn't like it. I thought it meant I was shallow and just out to make noise and be cool. But in fact, it is what made me a good community organizer and Executive Director, because I had so many types of people looking to me for leadership.
3. Empathy. I can feel others' pain and cry when they cry. This is likely what led me into the nonprofit sector, as I have always had a heart for those who struggle.
4. Input. This one is unique; one way they explained to me what it meant was that I may have had lots of collections as a child (I did!: erasers, stickers, pencils, buttons, baseball cards, etc.). Input means you like to categorize things, essentially. I love lists and even within my conversations with people like to clearly demarcate my different points (which goes along with my communication strength).
5. Strategic. Self-explanatory, I like to find the most efficient and successful way forward . I love plans (why do you think I chose consulting?!) with clear goals, timelines and accountability.
Want to know what your Strengths are? Take the test, along with your team, and share together about what makes you tick.
Good luck, and enjoy celebrating your strengths!