Living your Strengths

Warning – potentially long book review ahead. Actually, it’s a review of two books, maybe that’s why it’s so wordy.

I bought the books Strengths Finder 2.0 and Living Your Strengths for the purpose of figuring out what I’m going to be when I grow up. I think it’s time. I first bought Strengths Finder 2.0 because of someone’s recommendation. Then, I was told that Living Your Strengths was written for people who worked within the church environment, so I bought it. Both books include a code to allow you to go online and take the Clifton Strengths Finder assessment. The basic premise is that we all have innate talents and when we add skill and knowledge to the talents it develops our strengths. So, in fact, what the assessment is really looking for are our inborn talents.

I absolutely loved these books. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous when I went online to take the test. I mean, what if I got all done and it turned out that my real talent was something I hated doing? How horrible would that be? Would I then feel obligated to spend the rest of my life creating spread sheets when I’d really rather write a book? But, I was both relieved and surprised at what I thought was a pretty accurate assessment of my strengths. You’d think it would be possible to make the test say what you wanted it to say but really, it’s not as easy as you might think. I wonder how they come up with this stuff? Figuring that out is not one of my strengths.

There is an age old adage that says “you can be anything you want to be.” It’s true, of course, but a bit misguided. Sometimes that old adage has us thinking that we should work really hard so that we can be the best at something for which we really have no talent. My conclusion from this book is that while we can be anything we want to be, we can be so much more if we learn and develop our strengths. One of the books uses the analogy of the famous Notre Dame football player wanna be, Rudy. Rudy, for those of you who haven’t seen the movie, wanted, more than anything, to play football for Notre Dame, but he really didn’t have much talent in that area. Rudy talked the coach into giving him a spot on the football practice team. (You really need to see the movie to get the whole story.) At the end of the movie, Rudy gets to play for five minutes of the last game of his senior year. It’s a great, feel good story. BUT, imagine what Rudy could have done if he’d put the same effort into an area where he had a real talent? Joe Namath, on the other hand, had a great talent for football, put forth an extreme effort, and is now known as being one of the best football players of all time.

Suffice it to say that this book encourages you to develop your innate talents and work in those areas. What a concept! And the best thing about working in the area of your strengths is that it gives you the freedom to quit trying to be someone you were never created to be, and start being the person God created you to be. I would highly encourage everyone to get a copy of this book, read it, take the assessment test, and start living their strengths! God may have some amazing things waiting for you that you have never considered. Or, better yet, you may feel totally affirmed in the areas you are already using your strengths. Whatever you do, don’t wait until your over 50 to figure this out!