Thursday, June 2, 2011

What are your strengths?

So as most of you know, I'm a participant in PULSE (the Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience) this year. In addition to our time at our individual placement nonprofits, we also have weekly seminars every Wednesday afternoon.

Way back in December, my dear friend and author of Hello World Anna, led a seminar on StrengthsFinder. Ever read it?

Before you even read the book, you're supposed to first sit down and take a somewhat intimidating test, with a time limit. You pick A or B for what seems like a million different scenarios, some that seem the same.

But whatever. You click and you click until your little fingers just can't click anymore and the test is over. It then gives you five strengths (StrengthsFinder...get it?). In addition to a 20-page PDF of your individual strengths, the book explains each of the 32 different strengths in detail.

I made it through all of the scary questions and the millions of clicks to receive my five strengths. In order, they are:

Without going into all of the details, these are pretty accurate descriptions of me (you can read theme summaries here). I'm a sucker for these personality tests. Myers-Briggs? Taken it, or a variation, at least 5 times. I've taken more spiritual gifts surveys than I know what to do with. Last year when I went through career counseling (at the end of my senior year of college--clearly a "wtf I am almost in the real world" moment), I took multiple personality/strengths tests. But what do they really mean?

No test--on paper, on a computer, or otherwise--can tell you who you are or how to be. Imagine if we lived our lives based on what we were told by our astrological signs. I'd be imaginative and "extremely gifted artistically". I'm a pretty straightforward, literal thinker and not exactly the artist of the family (my older sister was the Star Child of her ceramics class in high school-literally).

So obviously, some of these "personality types" don't really tell us much about ourselves. But I think StrengthsFinder is a bit different. It tells me what I'm good at. What I enjoy--even if I didn't really realize that I like those things. Like projects with clear start and end dates. Why I love deadlines! Obviously I love finite projects with steps, not things that are all nebulous and hazy (another reason why I'm not a Pisces...). Duh. Just didn't really notice it until after I took the StrengthsFinder test. Definitely things to keep in mind, and things to work on.

Oh--one more way that I'm clearly not a Pisces? Pisces would apparently be very uncomfortable with running a company or holding any kind of leadership position. Obviously they haven't heard about my plans for world domination (World HQ will be, of course, Pittsburgh).

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