Innate strengths vs. perceived weaknesses

I’m not a fan of most personality tests. Even the people who rave to me about a particular one always seem to point to fairly obvious findings, like the wildly outgoing person whose test results reveal that they are outgoing.

But for me, the StrengthsFinder test by the Gallup Organization was different. It was the first test whose findings really helped me understand the five areas where I’m wired to flourish. And as more people at Collegewise took the same test and openly discussed their findings, it helped us understand each other and better answer questions like:

Why are some people energized by a day spent discussing big ideas while others get restless and just want to get started right now?

Why do some of us love going to conferences while others would much rather learn on their own back at the office?

Why do some of us love attacking a thorny problem that needs to be fixed while others are much happier making something already good even better?

What I appreciate most about Gallup’s teachings around this test is that they advocate leaning into your strengths rather than trying to fix your perceived weaknesses. I’ve seen that philosophy work for kids trying to get into college, for colleagues seeking to do their best work, and for managers trying to help their employees flourish.

If you’re a parent who would like to discover, understand, and nourish your kids’ strengths, you might consider this book from Gallup: Strengths Based Parenting: Developing Your Children’s Innate Talents. The book comes with access codes for both the parent and student to take the online assessment test. And it recommends some thoughtful questions parents can ask their kids around each of the particular strengths.

In a college admissions process where so much of the messaging, both deliberate and unintentional, tells kids and their parents that perfection is the desired outcome, it’s no wonder families end up spending so much time and often money trying to fix perceived weaknesses. Kids (and adults) are happier, more productive, and more successful when they’re maximizing innate strengths rather than fixing perceived weaknesses.