My friend, Jean Hamilton-Fford (check out her journey with her strengths here), and I have been working with the Clifton StrengthsFinder. I know, all kinds of personality tests and self-analysis tools out there, but this one has been very enlightening so far for me. It’s one of those things where you get what you pay for, I think.
Not only do you get a list of strengths (top five or all 34 depending on your investment), you get various tools to analyze them and the ways you might be using them. The survey that creates my strengths list was also long enough and in-depth enough to capture a good picture of my internal mental processes and ways of dealing with things in the world.
But enough of “selling” the Finder (and no, it’s not an affiliate link, so I’m saying I find it useful simply because I find it useful).
Here are my top five strengths as they emerged from the survey:
I learned a lot just from seeing the details (in video or PDF there’s a nice synopsis of what each one is about) of these.
The first three fall into the Relationship Building category (there are four categories—the others are T-Thinking, I-Influencing, E-Executing), which totally figures for how I know myself to be. I get great satisfaction out of meeting my own growth goals and seeing others develop; I have a strong sense of connectedness within me for the entire human presence on the planet; and I have a strong ability to feel others’ pain or joy.
Input is a T-Thinking strength—I do love getting more information on any topic, particularly before making decisions, but I just like to absorb new info for the sake of it, really. That’s why I took up book indexing; I have become even more widely read as a result.
The last of the top five, Woo, is in the I-Influencing category. I do prefer to influence others by making social connections. I love meeting new people and finding out more about them, as well as discovering what we have in common.
But it’s not as simple as just listing and prioritizing your strengths, or even just playing to the top five. There are all sorts of interesting relationships among my strengths that inform me about how I feel inside and how I present myself to the outside world. When I first saw my full list, I noticed that some intellectual strengths near the bottom (analytical in particular, #34!) were ones that I often call on in my billable work. So, what’s up with that?
Here’s the fascinating bit. The ones at the bottom are not necessarily strengths I consistently avoid, they may also be ones that I use with the outside world even if they don’t reflect how I optimally operate internally (thanks for this insight, Jean!). The fact that all those “soft and fluffy” relationship strengths are at the top merely reinforces my longstanding tendency to hide them because of a sense of vulnerability in my empathy and connectedness.
I have noticed that since my spiritual awakening process began (almost 20 years ago now!), I’ve been struggling to figure out how to present my top strengths in the outside world while still protecting my emotional integrity. My current approach seems to involve exuding a calmness that others find comforting, even if I’m a little worry wort inside my own head. I used to just come across with a strong know-it-all personality, filled with talk and information for others (I do still do that out of habit sometimes).
So, you can see more of the authentic me, now (enjoy my connectedness projected in calmness—breathe!), how lovely!
I’m really looking forward to studying my strengths more and seeing how to use them together to be even more authentic with everyone I encounter.