StrengthsFinder 2.0 is a little book around strengths-based psychology with an important message:
“Each person has greater potential for success in specific areas, and the key to human development is building on who we already are”.
If we unpack this idea a bit what it means is that us, as humans, should invest in developing our talents instead of trying to fix our weaknesses. With such an approach the ratio benefit/effort will be much bigger, which means that you will benefit immensely with a smaller amount of effort.
The author of the book is Tom Rath, an American author and researcher. His books have sold several million copies and have been translated into more then fifteen languages. Two of his most well-known books are “How Full Is Your Bucket?” And “Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes”. He is a scientist at Gallup and lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania. According to the author, since we are children society around us preach a misguided maxim: “You can be anything you want to be, if you just try hard enough”. This mantra is so entrenched in our “hard working” culture that it leads us to follow the path of most resistance in our professional lives. Tom Rath believes that in reality we can accomplish a lot more if we focus on our talents. The path of less resistance could be achieved by :
“You cannot be anything you want to be – but you can be a lot more of who you already are”.
He affirms that people who focus on their talents everyday tend to be a lot more engaged on their jobs and better quality of life in general. However, he stresses that the majority of parents has the opinion that the lowest grades of a student deserve the most effort. In the following video Rath eloquently explains us how we should change this approach:
That means parents and teachers end up not paying attention to the subjects where the student show more talent.
The book is associated with an online test developed by Gallup, where we can find our 5 major talents out of 34 and 10 ideas for action for each talent. Gallup, where Tom Rath works, is a consulting company founded in 1935 that provides research and strategic consulting to major businesses and organizations around the world. I took the test and my strengths, according to the test, are the following:
- Futuristic – people who are especially talented to perceive and imagine the future, that are inspired by the future and that nspire others with their visions of the future.
- Strategic – people who are very talented to find out alternative ways to proceed. When faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.
- Maximizer – people who focus on their strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.
- Individualization – people who are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together in a productive way.
- Positivity – people who are every positive and have an enthusiasm for life that is contagious.
To my dismay, I discovered that I have been spending a lot of effort engaged in the wrong things for many years of my life. Even though I can´t change the past this conclusion can help me with my future decisions.
By taking the online test associated with the book, it is important to realize that the results achieved will help the reader fine tune her or his efforts concerning their professional career. Tom Rath emphasizes that talents are not equal to strengths. A talent only becomes a strength, which he defines as “the ability to consistently provide near perfect performance” with the investment of many hours. Michael Jordan wouldn´t be the wordly famous basketball player “Michael Jordan” if he would have been playing basketball for many hours several years. A talent doesn´t become a real strength without investment.
Like Tom Rath says in the book, potential for growth increases when we invest time in our talents and not in correcting weaknesses. A fish would believe he was a disaster if he would spend his time climbing trees like a monkey. But if uses his natural talent for swimming he would be wonderful.
The conclusion is that by following your strengths you achieved a lot with less effort. The trick now is to find out what your strengths are.
Ivo Dias de Sousa is a Portuguese writer born in Mozambique. Ivo is also a Professor at Universidade Aberta, Portugal, giving courses on information management. Currently, Ivo is interested in using his experience on information management to construct applications (see http://windit-app.com/ ) for smartphones, in collaboration with others. Ivo holds a Master in Statistics and Information Management (Universidade Nova de Lisboa) and a Ph.D. in Information Management (Universidade Aberta). Amongst his main interests are information management, psychology of luck and literature.