How to discover your personal strengths in about 30 minutes

Being asked to articulate your own, or others, strengths is not as easy as it sounds. I know that when I have sat down to work on a personal mission statement or writing my core values, I quickly run into writers block.  It is not that I do not have strong values and core beliefs, but giving them written form is more of a challenge then one would think.

As part of a mentoring program that I am participating in, we completed a survey that helped to identify our individual strengths.  The timed online survey is part of the book, Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton.  I am still reading the book and it has been enlightening.

I must admit that the survey was spot on in its assessment of me, and I am not sure how I feel about how it was able to summarize aspects of my personality so quickly.

Here is what the survey identified as my top five strengths with abbreviated versions of the supporting text.

•1. Focus

…Guided by this theme of Focus, you need a clear destination. Lacking one, your life and your work can quickly become frustrating. And so each year, each month, and even each week you set goals. These goals then serve as your compass, helping you determine priorities and make the necessary corrections to get back on course. Your Focus is powerful because it forces you to filter; you instinctively evaluate whether or not a particular action will help you move toward your goal…

•2. Achiever

Your Achiever theme helps explain your drive. Achiever describes a constant need for achievement. You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself…It is the power supply that causes you to set the pace and define the levels of productivity for your work group. It is the theme that keeps you moving…

•3. Responsibility

Your Responsibility theme forces you to take psychological ownership for anything you commit to, and whether large or small, you feel emotionally bound to follow it through to completion. Your good name depends on it…

•4. Significance

You want to be very significant in the eyes of other people. In the truest sense of the word you want to be recognized. You want to be heard. You want to stand out. You want to be known. In particular, you want to be known and appreciated for the unique strengths you bring…

•5. Connectedness

Things happen for a reason. You are sure of it. You are sure of it because in your soul you know that we are all connected. Yes, we are individuals, responsible for our own judgments and in possession of our own free will, but nonetheless we are part of something larger…

I find the whole process of self discovery intriguing and empowering. If you have never completed any personality, strength, or weakness surveys, I would encourage you to complete one or two.

The information these tests can give you is priceless, if you use it wisely.  I have found these types of tests have given me a foundation by which I can make improvements in my life, and have helped me to better understand the people around me.

If you have any personality tests or surveys that you have taken, please leave a comment with what your thoughts were about the test and results –Thank you.

  1. Hi Nick,

    I bought that book about two or three months ago, but I have yet to read it. It is two more away on my reading list. I should get to it in less than six weeks. I will share my thoughts on the book once I complete it. It definitely looks interesting.

    Thank you for the book recommendation – I greatly appreciate it!

  2. Hi Michael,

    Glad you are proceeding on the strengths journey. Wouldn’t you have liked to do it earlier in life? . Since you are interested in Marcus’ work, I thought you might also be interested in the work of Jenifer Fox. While it may or may not touch your professional practice, it may well have personal resonance.

    Jenifer is a lifelong educator. In 2007, she wrote Your Child’s Strengths, (Viking 2008) with an introduction by Marcus Buckingham. Right after finishing it, she traveled with Marcus on his Go Put Your Strengths to Work Tour to show the results a strengths approach can yield in a high school setting. Jenifer’s book describes how to get children involved in strengths discovery from an early age, not just high school. It both describes why this is important with great stories from schools, but also provides practical tools to get started. I think it is worth mentioning to someone like you because it helps parent and teachers help kids discover their strengths before they get into the workplace and find themselves in jobs which don’t energize them.

    Since publication, Jenifer has been traveling the country and spreading her message to schools businesses and various organizations interested in strengths. I am reaching out to you because most adults interested in developing their own strengths either have or know children who are also interested.

    I hope you will take a look at this important book. If you would talk about it on your website, I would be happy to send you a copy. Let me know. Thanks and good luck with your work.