A Trip Down Self-Discovery Lane: Strengths Assessment

Good afternoon from Reno!

Life never seems to be put on hold here, and that is evident from the ever growing pile of papers, books, school materials, various technology, and Post-Its around my office.

August has always been an interesting month for me because it signals the “return to school” and the close of summer, but this August seems to be different…

The summer continues to be full of learning experiences, least of which is directly related to learning about myself as a person. At work, we completed the Strengths Finder exercise and it was frightening how dead-on accurate it was! I am gearing up for a presentation to the division at staff training tomorrow (kind of a big deal for me since it will be in front of a lot of people), and it was fun going through the Strengths Finder assessment tool and utilizing my strengths to help me organize my thoughts. I wish I had known about these attributes when I graduated college!

  1. Learner – I wholeheartedly agree that I am obsessed with the entire learning process (no matter what the subject matter) as I was raised on the belief that the day you stop learning is the day you die. There is too much going on in this world to be stuck in a rut of ignorance, and it is our responsibility as a contributor to society to go out, learn, and improve on our way of life.
  2. Individualization – Someone with this strength is able to identify unique characteristics of the people around them and draw out the best within that individual. The thing that jumped out at me about this trait was the ability to analyze data differently from others, because of different perceptions/assumption, and an acute awareness of others’ likes and dislikes. It rang a bell although I would not have identified this on my own.
  3. Maximizer – Perhaps the strength that I identified with the most, maximizers are people who set their own bar at excellent and don’t look back. It is very thrilling to turn a few key strengths into the mastery that you define as the core of your life. In a few short years, I’ve transitioned from being a triathlon noob to someone who is relatively decent at the sport(s). In the professional world, I’ve gone from a green college grad to someone confident in my business skills and ability to paint pictures for people. However, I do wonder what I am missing out on since I feel that I spend so much time maximizing my current strengths instead of finding new ones…
  4. Achiever – For those of you who know me, you will definitely agree that I must always be accomplishing “something,” and the mere idea of sitting still and enjoying life can make me nauseous. It’s true that I don’t have an issue challenging myself in life, but then again, do I really take time to celebrate the little things? Perhaps not. I found it interesting that the strengths book describes achievers as people who get more excited about what lies ahead than on what has been completed. Ding ding ding! Not more than four days after my first marathon had I decided that I will qualify for Boston one day (2013 ideally). This is not unusual for me, although I am slowly breaking out of the “checklist mindset” and at least acknowledging the reason for my insane desire to achieve. It certainly describes my obsession with triathlon :-)
  5. Futuristic – This trait is prominent in people who latch onto dreams of the future, and craft their lives around the hope that it brings. The ability to think long term gives me a clear vision, and helps me carve out specific steps to make it reality. I tend to leverage that trait with logical goal setting to incorporate it into my life. For example, not a single goal I set at the beginning of the year (yes, I actually use realistic New Year’s resolutions) will be unfulfilled by the end of September. I tend to set goals that stretch and force me to work, but ones that are still very attainable.

Personally, it was fascinating reading about my personality from this book, and has certainly provided me a wonderful resource.

What surprises you about your personality?

Picture credit 1. Picture credit 2.


  1. Hi Leon,

    While I would agree that people often lose the “feeling” side of finding themselves, I would disagree that assessment is always about finding out where we fit in. Specifically, the Strengths Finder helps you identify what you are good, even great at, and then gives you a frame of reference for improving yourself as a person. It doesn’t label me as “XYZ” but rather says these are the areas that you are talented in, improve upon them!

  2. Leon,

    While I agree that people can be lost in the moment, overcome by emotions, and unable to move past them, analyze them, and realize what is really going on, I believe that the two ideas being discussed are completely separate.

    What Russell posted about was a way of finding strengths as an individual, zeroing in on specific ideas that define us in our relationships with other people in a professional environment. Naturally, these crossover with our personal lives, as our feelings cross over into the professional realm. But, this assessment is used more to help people come to discover traits they may have, thus allowing them to use this new found knowledge in their daily lives.

    What your link is discussing is how people’s emotions can blind them from really looking deeper into a situation, and how when we come to understand our feelings, we are able to have a better understanding of our present situation and ourselves as individuals. While a valid point, it is unrelated to the type of “self-discovery” about which Russell is writing.

    There are a lot of ways we can discover ourselves. And while I don’t believe that any test can lead us to this discovery alone, and that higher education depends too much on these types of “personality” reports, I feel that these tests can be used to steer us in the right direction by giving us insight into our strengths and weaknesses. We can analyze the test results, how we respond to the test results, and then use said exploration to further develop and understand our strengths as individuals. But such tests are used more as a professional, self-motivating tool. In other words, such types of self-discovery are pro-active without a strong stimulus. Analyzing our feelings is more about being proactive as a result of a reactive situation. For if we have strong feelings that hinder our ability to see clearly, it means we are reacting to a strong stimulus. Generally, there is no such stimulus in these types of tests. So, while both are valid, they are applicable in entirely different situations. They don’t have to conflict. They can exist, and should exist, in unison.


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