Now, Discover Your Strengths: Using Your Strengths in a Faults-Oriented World

June 26, 2007 by

Now, Discover Your Strengths: Using Your Strengths in a Faults-Oriented WorldAbout six months ago, I started a book with the intention of reviewing it here. Today, I finish that journey. That’s not, however, a shot at the quality of the book.

In Now, Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham enumerates his theory that it’s better to spend energy maximizing your strengths than to spend energy trying to fix your weaknesses.

The Good:
The theory in and of itself is brilliant. Many of you have probably heard his example that a child comes home with his report card. He has an A in English, a B in math, an A in social studies, and a D in science. What do his parents do? They chastise or make efforts to work on his science grade.

Buckingham claims this is the incorrect approach. His idea is that we all have abilities and strengths. A strength becomes an ability only if you can fathom yourself doing it repeatedly, happily, and successfully. While this child has a natural ability to do his science work, it is not his natural strength, and thus, he should emphasize maximizing his strengths.

The Bad:
By the end of the book, there’s no way you’ve missed the point. It’s a little laborious and tiring to read at points, especially the middle of the book, an exposition on each individual aspect of the Gallup StrengthsFinder Test.

The Free:

With the book, you get to take the Gallup StrengthsFinder Test for free to find your top five strengths. I’m ideation, self-assurance, futuristic, activator and learner. Pretty interesting to assign words to the things you know deep inside, and find out some new things as well.

The Quotes:

To develop a strength in any activity requires certain natural talents.

The key to building a bona fide strength is to identify your dominant talents and then refine them with knowledge and skills.

You can acquire some materials, your knowledge and skills, with practice and learning; others, your talents, you simply have to hone.

The Summary:
All in all, I would say that anyone with human DNA should read this. It’s useful for managers because you can see the talent in your organization. It’s useful for individuals because you can see exactly what you are best at. I don’t really see anyone who shouldn’t read it.

Has anyone else read this or gotten to take the StrengthsFinder? What’d you think? What strengths do you have?

Post By:

Joshua Cody

Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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15 Responses to “Now, Discover Your Strengths: Using Your Strengths in a Faults-Oriented World”

  • Jacob
    June 26, 2007

    We use the StrengthFinder at work. It says I’m: Arranger, Strategic, Connectedness, Learner, Analytical.
    I think the assessment can be helpful, but as with all such tests it can be easy to misinterpret the descriptive results as being proscriptive. That is thinking that these strengths somehow define who the breath of depth of who you are and who you can be.

  • Isaac Downing
    June 26, 2007

    The company I where I work has implemented this book and the strengths finder test into their company atmosphere.
    Each new employee reads the book, then takes the test. Afterwards, the employee prints out their results and they have an interview with the upper management to make sure they are in the department that best suits them.
    So far it’s worked out great. Although, I’m new here, so I haven’t finished reading it or taken the test yet.
    I’ll let you know what happens after that.

  • brandon
    June 26, 2007

    I didn’t read the original (the one you show) but I read Strengthfinders 2.0 (probably just the new version). I found it interesting that creative didn’t show up on my list, but, I’ve always felt like I’m better at running creative projects than actually doing them.
    I found the test to be very accurate and even if you don’t read the book, getting the test makes it worth it.
    The trick is implementation. Its great to know all that, but taking it and turning it into a plan that is executable is no easy task. I suppose I should use my strengths of strategy and ideation to figure it out. ;)

  • Mark Jackson
    June 26, 2007

    I took StrengthsFinder as a part of Yelo, which is a one-day conference run by Mosaic that they use both to help know their folks’ gifts & as a connection point with unchurched people.
    They triangulate – they use StrengthsFinder, Myers-Briggs & Erwin McManus’ Character Matrix (see the book Uprising).

  • Melissa
    June 26, 2007

    Our church staff just did this and we’re using the info to learn more about each other and to see how our strengths are complimentary as we each bring something different to the team. I mostly agree with my results (communication, woo, developer, activator, input).
    I think it will be interesting for our staff to lay our spiritual gifts over these to see even more clearly how we each contribute to the body.
    I agree with Jacob–all assessments like this are best taken with a grain of salt and when used as data points to better understand ourselves and others.

  • Joshua
    June 26, 2007

    I guess I should have included this, but to get in on the fun, I’m:

  • kevin beale
    June 26, 2007

    I have:
    1. View the strengths finder results as a “this is the way i am wired” report.
    2. Get involved in anything that will use and develop those strengths.
    Once the test illuminates your strengths, do the things that make you the most effective and fulfilled–the things that maximize the use of those strengths!
    If nothing else, you can have truly amazing conversations with others who have taken the test!

  • Big Chris
    June 26, 2007

    StrengthFinder is IMNHO the best thing out there right now, but that is ONLY when it can be read and interpreted by someone who has been trained (and practiced) to do so. I took SF twice in a 6 month period while in school at Bethel Seminary. my top 6 were all the same with a slight order adjustment the second go around. This reinforced for me that it was an accurate test. It gave me some nice insight into who I am, but more so reinforced much of what I already knew about myself. I then had the opportunity to have Brian Schubring interpret my results for me, and he blew my mind. Brian knew very little about me, so I consider it to be an accurate reading. He asked me questions for about 30 minutes and took notes, and then spent the next 30 minutes telling me how God had hard wired me. He told me all sorts of things about me that he should not have known from our limited conversation and interaction. He rocked my world with his depth of insight and ability to make sense for me the results of the test.
    So take the test, it’s worth your time, but if you really want to get the full advantage get someone to interpret it for you who really knows what they are doing.
    I should also say I had another person who was less skilled and experienced at the interpretation do my first interpretation and it really didn’t add much. The right person is key to a great reading.
    Big Chris

  • Matthew
    June 27, 2007

    I heard Marcus Buckingham speak a couple of months ago on the whole idea behind it. I think the tests are great, but the extent that he wants to make society reflect the “only good” seems a little contradictory to my faith. I’m not one to over-analyze, and philosophize and theorize, but once I heard him speak more about a movement than a tool for better trainging/utilizing staff, I was kind of turned off to him and his materials. Looks like I should have read the book, b/c evidently you folks got some great stuff from it. Was anyone else out there turned off by had doctrine of “only the good?”

  • Jen Miller
    June 28, 2007

    What a gift to be able to clearly identify, articulate and deploy your God-given talents in your life! The SF is a well researched and accurate tool to get a handle on how you are naturally wired. This does not imply limitations on what you do, rather it describes how you do what you do. Having worked with hundreds of people’s results, I am continually excited by the accuracy of the tool, and the uniqueness of each individual. Counterintuitively, if each person focused on and developed his/her strengths we would become much more community-oriented and interdependent which is how I imagine God designed us to live.
    (I have Relator, Command, Maximizer, Connectedness, Individualization in my top 5.)

  • Fred
    June 28, 2007

    Do not forget people as individuals.

    The challenge with these tests is that managers get the answer and think they now fully understand their employees. I have been involved with many organizations and taken just as many personality tests. For several years I kept getting different results to my Myers-Briggs tests. I mention this because many people do not know themselves well enough to answer the questions. One commentator said he was surprised he did come back creative. Does that mean he is not creative? Maybe. I am a maximizer, strategic, developer, etc. Does that make my boss know what I am strong in? These tools are designed to get people and managers thinking in the compartments of individuals’ giftings. The next step is to interact with the person and watch if the tests seem accurate. Give me a role where I take an idea to market and see if I am truly strategic. Put me in an underperforming department and see if I develop and maximize.

    This is a good book because it points to areas where a person can flourish. Churches and businesses will benefits as they use their employees to their fullest potential.

  • Brian Niece
    June 28, 2007

    The StrengthsFinder and Gallup’s research truly is unique. It starts with a different paradigm: “What’s right with you?” rather than “What’s wrong with you?”
    I’ve been involved with this whole deal for over 8 months. I’m using it on a local level with the church I pastor ( I’ve been trained at Gallup’s headquarters in Omaha and will be completing some leadership training for coaching in August.
    It is a powerful tool for “equipping the saints.” Something people can get there heads around and begin to work toward and with quickly. There’s a faith-perspective book using strengths-training from Gallup Press titled “Living Your Strengths.” It’s a bit weak on theology, but intensely practical.
    My top 5:
    I’d love to share more about how this works in a local church setting with anyone who’s interested.

  • Jesse
    July 3, 2007

    I took it recently, I forget what I am. But I wonder, can I even trust it? They ask me a few questions, most of which I don’t know the answer to, and then they magically tell me who I am. That just seems impossible.
    But I want it to be possible. I want to know, I want to do something I love and excel at! Does anyone else have this question? I’m almost irritated the way everyone immediately embraces the results of these kinds of test for themselves.
    I LOVE Buckingham’s ideas though. I totally agree we should operate in our strengths/gifts! I heard him at Catalyst and have seen his trombone player wanted dvd series, pretty revolutionary, pretty awesome.

  • Dave
    July 3, 2007

    If you liked this book, you might want to check out “Go Put Your Strengths to Work” or Tom Rath’s book “StrengthsFinder 2.0” with the updated strengths finder survey.
    My strengths are:

  • Tim
    January 4, 2008

    Has anyone seen the reliability and validity studies done on this test? If so, where are they available to peruse? Everything I’ve seen so far is simply anecdotal evidence.

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