Know Your Strengths

Recently I took the CliftonStrengths assessment — about 170 questions designed to identify your top strengths so you can use them to be more effective. I had first heard about it in a conversation about community organizing, in terms of knowing what you bring to the table when getting involved with a new organization. But it had also come up at work, and I decided it would be at least interesting to see what I might learn from this assessment.

I worried a little about inadvertently gaming the system. I’m a good test-taker and, for example, I can’t take the MBTI anymore without knowing exactly what personality traits I’m indicating with each answer. (I’m solidly INFJ, by the way.) So I didn’t look too much at the possible strengths or how the assessment worked; I just sat down and for about 30 minutes answered each question as honestly (not aspirationally) as I could.

In the end I was given 5 strengths: Achiever, Responsibility, Intellection, Input, and Relator. At first glance, the first three seemed spot on and the last two seemed a bit iffy. I’m a Relator, as introverted as I am? But as I read their explanations all five made sense to me:

I also have a report with even more detail, and advice about how to make these strengths work even better for me. This is great timing, because I have been especially conscious lately of my first two strengths (and the challenges they bring) — traits that mean I work hard, strive to be the best, hold myself to high standards, and have trouble saying no or letting things be less-than-excellent once I feel ownership of them. I’m still thinking about what these strengths mean for me going forward, but I’m interested in challenging myself to make use of them in work, in volunteering, and throughout my life.

How about you? Do you have experience with CliftonStrengths or other similar assessments? I always try to maintain a healthy skepticism about letting classifications like this determine how I see myself and the world, so I’m curious how others make use of them.

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