Discover Your Superpowers with StrengthsFinder 2.0

There are few things more sobering than the realization that adulthood has arrived and the time has come to take action. When that moment came for me, I balked at the idea of switching from unbothered youth to full-fledged career person. I hate gray boxes, and undergrad life worked better with my constitution. I was on a high of freedom, self-direction, and intellectual stimulation.

I wondered if the characteristics that made me feel empowered on campus would translate to a profession. I landed a job in marketing (you'd be hard-pressed to find many gray boxes here), and as a young professional, I became more curious about how to harness my skills for maximum career success. Luckily the year I started at my current organization the leadership mandated that all employees take the StrengthsFinder talent assessment.     

Let's face it: we're all pretty obsessed with online personality quizzes. While there's nothing wrong with finding out which sandwich you'd be or the 90s movie that fits your mood, at some point we need deeper introspection. After years of research, the smarties behind Clifton StrengthsFinder found talents fall into 34 general themes (check out the full descriptions here).

These innate abilities show up in different ways for everyone. The top five "signature themes" are the ones that we use most frequently. These are your superpowers. Every good hero knows once you can name your distinctive qualities and recognize their characteristics, you can start to sharpen them.  

Taking the Test

The actual online test is pretty pain-free, but the 200 questions are quite probing. If you're like me and enjoy over thinking everything, know it is a timed assessment. Let instinct guide your answers.

Image from http://beingleanna.com/

Image from http://beingleanna.com/

After going through the test, I found that my top strengths were "Input, Learner, Intellection, Connectedness, and Strategic." My immediate response was a little befuddled because four of these strengths are in the same "Strategic Thinking" domain. I had been "Executing", "Influencing" and “Relationship Building” since after breakfast. Shouldn’t these traits register higher?

Before I could wallow, I started reading the in-depth explanation, and things began to make more sense. The report reminded me that of the 34 potential strengths, these five are the ones I use most to get things done. I love collaboration and accomplishing things in the most efficient manner, this relates to “Input”.

From a very early age, I've had a desire to stay informed, interpret facts and problem solve. These are the qualities of “Learner” and “Strategic.” My qualities for “Intellection” are most visible in my habit of sharing insights with others, and the “Connectedness” in me is all about compassionate action. Seeing my personality highlights fleshed out in this way is affirming and euphoric. Like a selfie with all the right angles and lighting.    

Now that we know our superpowers, how do we save the day? Each test comes with a professional action plan with a list of next steps. I found this to be the StrengthsFinder juiciest feature.

The results suggested my love affair with data can be helpful in the research phase of a project, and I should seek out team members with "Focus" or "Discipline" strengths to help move the creative process along. The assessment also suggested I reward my desire to learn by finding programs that track learning outcomes.

At our next staff meeting, I committed to delivering regular industry updates to keep the team sharp. I also became more active in my organization's training program, and my presentations are consistently rated high. These felt like natural ways to make a larger impact and develop new skills. Rather than just inform me, the StrengthsFinder assessment gave me steps to channel my expansive qualities into a grounded plan.  

Still on the fence? Here are more reasons to take StrengthsFinder:

  1. The test is personalized and in-depth. "I feel that the results and information are more personalized to me and my unique personality," said Jasmine Ayozie, a career specialist at San Jacinto College. "[While other assessments based on] Myers-Briggs [identify] general personality traits, I have been put off by some of the 'identifying characteristics.'"
  2. Easily apply the findings in group settings. "Knowing what my strengths are I feel I can better utilize them in our office environment," said Vanessa Ochoa, a career specialist at San Jacinto College. "For example, I have positivity as one my strengths, and I see that I can use that when things are getting a little hectic at work, or plans do not go as expected."
  3. Findings come with an action plan. It's no secret that planning is key to success. The StrengthsFinder assessment gives you easy to follow steps for each talent.

Know Thyself for Less Than the Cost of Brunch

For about $15, you get the personalized insights, action plan, and e-book. Have any of you taken this assessment? What were your signature strengths and would you recommend it? Even if you weren’t a fan, it’s a beautiful thing to be curious about making yourself better. Now let’s go live our best lives!   

Jahmal Clemons is a new-ish Houston resident who writes about digital marketing and surviving the workplace. Follow him on Twitter at @Jahmal_Clemons for pop culture musings.