Searching for Purpose, Part 2: StrengthsFinder 2.0

I’ve alluded to doing some soul-searching over the past year or so. I try to live intentionally, so purpose comes up a lot for me when I think about anything, but especially my career. I started out trying to decide what would be best for me, what I should study for graduate school and how I could use my skills to best help society. It was a tall order. In doing so, I took a lot of self-assessments. The assessment process was really interesting for me, so I wanted to share what I’ve learned and how I’m exploring my next steps. I did a lot of searching and will be sharing in this series Searching for Purpose

A co-worker caught wind of my self-assessment soul searching and suggested that I try StrengthsFinder. Shortly after the recommendation, it came up on a blog I was reading as well, so I went for it.

The goal of StrengthsFinder is to help you uncover your strengths so that you can do what you do best every day. (I love that!) The about page on their website explains:

Strengths are the unique combination of talents, knowledge, and skills that every person possesses. People use these innate traits and abilities in their daily lives to complete their work, to relate with others, and to achieve their goals. But most people don’t know what their strengths are or have the opportunity to use them to their advantage.

Finding out what your strengths are is pretty simple. You purchase a copy of the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book (which is an interesting read outlining all 34 strengths) and use the accompanying code to access the online test. You can pay an additional fee to see how all your strengths rank. With the code, you get your top five, in order.

My Top 5 Results:

  1. Futuristic – People strong in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.
  2. Ideation – People strong in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.
  3. Communication – People strong in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.
  4. Maximizer – People strong in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.
  5. Woo – People strong in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person.

I found this assessment really helpful in a few ways. I now know what my core strengths are and will keep them in mind when thinking about my future in the workplace and at home. Just that last sentence says so much, I’m always focused on the future and how to make it better – and now I have language to share this part of myself with others. If it weren’t for StrengthsFinder, I probably would never have thought of myself as a maximizer, but I see it in so many ways now that I have these results: I love helping people, I’m easily frustrated when I see people fail to push them to excellence when I know they can attain it, and I love talking to people about what I think they would be great at, dreaming up their best selves with them. I could share many stories with examples of how each of these strengths has played out in my life, how I use them daily, and how they affect my motivations.

How can you use StrengthsFinder for a more purpose-driven career and life? Play to your Strengths! After taking this assessment, I shared my results with my manager to see if there were some ways we could use my natural abilities and skills to better the organization. I took this assessment before applying to graduate school and it helped me pull the trigger to study public affairs. Since so much of the public affairs requires thinking about the future of the public sector, creating new ideas for policy initiatives and campaigns, communicating with constituents and stakeholders, bringing out the best in our society, and wooing and sharing with donors and public figures alike. Knowing your strengths can be a powerful motivator in taking next steps.

If you have taken (or decide to take) StrengthsFinders, please share your experience in the comments below.

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