Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Marcus Buckingham is one of my favorite authors and this book is key to understanding his work. As the jacket proclaims, the book is based on Gallup Organization research on over 2 million people. Gallup analyzed how these people answered a series of "what would you do if...?" questions and compared their answers to their personal sets of skills. Buckingham and Clifton were able to make use of Gallup's gigantic database to describe 34 specific talents or strengths that individuals might display and then provide advice for how to maximize each strength, or how to manage another person who has that strength. The online Strengthsfinder test allows each reader to identify which of the 34 strengths he or she possesses.
The whole concept makes total sense. We all enjoy doing what we are good at... and in doing it we get better. Those of us who organize our lives so that we have an opportunity to do what we enjoy everyday are more productive, more fulfilled, and likely more successful. If I am a good writer, why should I waste time trying to become a better public speaker? I should invest in learning more about writing and in practicing writing. I'll enjoy my days more when I craft my career around writing. And if I get really good I can be more influential with it and bring in more income than I otherwise might have done. Simply brilliant.
According to Strengthsfinder, my key talents are Connectedness, Context, Input, Intellection, and Restorative - which by the way add up to a unique ability to synthesize large volumes of information. This is why I enjoy putting together the two-page summaries of the books I read. According to the authors, our core talents are immutable and unlikely to change much over time. We can develop them or ignore them, but they are what they are. My summary for this one is available for free download here.
Though Buckingham seems to have migrated away from the 34 themes in his most recent books, the strengths theory is still prominent in his work. Discover what you are good at and invest in getting better at it. That's the pathway to success. Working on flaws merely prevents failure... it doesn't launch us into our best selves.
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