First, I do intend to keep up with the Teaching Strategies series, there’s just so much going on and so much to share!
Okay, with that squared away, one of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is the Strengthsfinder 2.0 test. We’re taking it at my library and it’s been really interesting to see what strengths different people have. In fact, today I just finished up with a team retreat that include a discussion of everyone’s strengths from their point of views. Very enlightening stuff, and it made for really good conversation.
In case you’re interested in the test: buy the book. It’s a racket, but you have to buy the ~$20 book to get a code to take the test online. There’s no way around this at this point in time. Once you take the test, you can use the book to understand your results and how you might fit in with other people.
Ideation: one who is adept at seeing underlying concepts that unite disparate ideas
Learner: one who must constantly be challenged and learning new things to feel successful
Strategic: one who is able to see a clear direction through the complexity of a situation
Input: one who is constantly collecting information
or objectsfor future use
Intellection: one who enjoys thinking and thought-provoking conversation often for its own sake, and also can data compress complex concepts into simplified models
(these summaries from the list on Wikipedia)
I’ve gotten to do a lot with these strengths! I’ve been involved in several strategic planning initiatives, I’ve written reports that take a lot of raw, seemingly unrelated and complex data and boiled them down to something that is unified and simple to follow, for a while I was the primary point person on emerging technologies and would give monthly emerging tech talks to the rest of library staff. When I think about it, the work that has made use of these traits has been both the most fun and some of the projects I’ve felt proudest of. And it makes me realize I should be seeking out as many opportunities as I can to do that type of work. Luckily, I have a few of these projects on the horizon–but it’s good to have a “type” of project to be on the lookout for in the future.
Then, on the other hand, I’ve also been thinking about what my results 6-10 are. Because several things that I recognized as shortcomings–even as a child–and have spent the past two decades working on didn’t show up as strengths at all. It was as if the strengthsfinder test gave the results I would have gotten as an 8 year old. That’s probably because when taking the test you are supposed to answer really quickly and go with your gut. But I’ve worked very hard to develop a sense of connectedness, empathy, to include others in decisions, and have over time developed a real need to accomplish something every day. I mean, I’m building my professional reputation around the future of the field, and futuristic wasn’t one of my top five! If someone were to ask what my strengths are, I probably would have talked about those things. That’s probably because those areas are where I have spent my time getting better over time. So now I’m wondering if they’re the “second tier.” Maybe traits 6-10 are the ones we should spend our time really working on because there’s room to grow in those areas. If your to five are so you that they don’t need work and the next five are ones that with a little work could be outstanding.
All that being said, I find the test very useful (to help me recognize things in myself) and helpful (in the cases where I’ve learned my coworkers’ strengths). I plan to spend more time looking for opportunities to use my identified strengths of (basically) reading, gathering information, and learning to connect disparate and complex ideas into simplified models and using that to create clear directions in complex situations.
But for now, maybe I should just go off and read, think, and reflect for a bit. That’s what strengthsfinder recommends, anyway!