Defining My Key Strengths

by Seth Ansell

StrenghsFinder 2.0 is a personality quiz used to find one’s “natural talents”, so that the user is aware of their natural personality strengths and can use that knowledge to further build and capitalize on their strengths which can be useful in personal and professional life. It also allows users to understand certain weaknesses that may go along with their strengths.

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Photo Credit: kurzweilai.net

The Gallup StrenghsFinder site claims that everyone has innate traits and abilities that make up their strengths. They also claim that those who are aware of their strengths are more successful in their careers, productive in individual work and team settings, and are more likely to say they live an “excellent quality of life.” By taking the quiz, I was able to learn what my strengths are, how I can utilize them in my daily life, recognize potential weaknesses, and use my strengths to develop my future goals of becoming successful in my career and leadership abilities. According to Gallup’s StrengthFinder, I possess these strengths (in descending order of prevalence): Competition, Futuristic, Adaptability, Activator, and Ideation.

Competition

My first and biggest strength is my competitive nature. Because Competition is such a dominant trait in my personality, I constantly compare myself to others. SrengthsFinder says that this Competitiveness can be used to encourage myself to get work done. I achieve this by not wanting to let others beat me; such as studying for an exam because I want to get the highest grade within my class. This would both fuel and satisfy my Competitive self in a productive way. I find that this to be very true to me and I often find myself motivating and encouraging myself through similar practices which is especially useful because I often lack other sources of motivation. A very specific application of this Competitive motivation is when I did not want to let my freshman roommate beat me in an election for vice president in an organization we were both apart of. Not wanting to lose and be seen as inferior, I worked hard to attempt to win. In the end my roommate dropped out of the running so I was unopposed, but he did not drop out until the day of elections and I used that fear of losing to motivate me to work hard on my election speech.

I believe that my roommate knew I was a Competitive person and used that to encourage me because he cared about me. If that was not true, there was a chance I could have let my Competitiveness hurt our friendship. I often get told by my girlfriend and my family that I get “too into things.” I do not see the point in playing in a game or participating in an activity if I am not trying to win and often times take casual games into serious competitions which sometimes get out of hand. It is not uncommon for me to get in an argument with my dad or one of my family members at a family gathering when we are playing something as simple as corn hole. I also like to celebrate when I win, which is a pro and a con. It is positive because it allows me to celebrate and enjoy my wins which will encourage me to be Competitive in the future to seek the thrill of winning which will perpetually motivate me. It is a flaw because it is very “unsportsmanlike” or can be seen as hurtful to celebrate in front of others who also were competing for the same goal, which is never my goal.

Futuristic

My next most prominent strength is Futuristic, which means I am very future oriented; I dream about the future, I think about the future, I plan for the future, and I see the future in a positive way. Constantly thinking about the future is also a major source of my motivation. As I envision what I want my future to be, I plan and attempt to reach my goals and dreams. These goals of success encourage me to work hard and I know that if I don’t work hard my goals for my future will never be met. A trait of one who is Futuristic, according to Gallup, is being able to look over pain and suffering in current times by looking and anticipating the future. I definitely have used the thoughts of the future to help myself get through tough times in my life. Without going into too much personal information, there have been days where I didn’t even get out of bed, I basically was depressed with my current situation that outside sources have brought into my life; however, I was able to get through it by hoping the future would be better, which it was.

On the flipside, one can be so caught up in thinking about the future that they aren’t acting for today and I often find myself doing that. I fantasize and think about the future that I end up procrastinating or neglecting opportunities that I currently have. This is something I still struggle with on a daily basis but I have gotten much better at realizing I cannot get where I want to be without acting and working.

Adaptability

My third strength is Adaptability. Being adaptable, according to the survey, means that you respond well to chaos and are able to react when others would be intimidated. They find ways to get through unexpected circumstances. The Gallup StrengthsFinder also says that those who are adaptable are able to “unfreeze” progress when it seems that you and your colleagues are stuck. It also claims that day-to-day predictability would not be my preferred setting, which is absolutely true. I like things to be interesting and unique. I do not like living or working with the same schedule all the time. This is evident specifically in my area of study. I am studying Health and Risk Communication and I would like to work in some sort of setting where I can work with unexpected events, whether it be safety management, disaster relief, or Public Health. All potential future jobs have situations where I would need to be able to respond to the unexpected. One way I have adapted in the past was the way I handled the moving in with my Grandma in 8th grade. While moving out of my house was unexpected and definitely not an optimal situation, I was able to deal with the stress of moving houses and living with a family member I only used to see once a month or less.

One of the major downsides of being adaptable and being efficient in chaos is the way I live with very little organization and planning. I do not set up time to do all my work and plan all my work for the week. I do the work when I feel like or when I absolutely need to do it. While I work very well in these situations, not all do. If I was working in a team environment my peers might prefer order and planning. This is something I have been attempting to change; instead of not planning anything out, I am trying become organize so that I can use my other time and resources on reacting to the unexpected instead of dealing with it all at once because I put off the already-known work and tasks.

Activator

My second to last top strength is being an Activator. Activators have the drive to make things into a reality. They often can be the person to initialize the first push of getting a big project achieved. Activators also get tired of theoretical and “what ifs” and want to see action. While I very much enjoy planning and discussing what should be done in theory with group members or coworkers, I also get tired of waiting if we wait too long to act. I am a person who likes to see change quickly and I often feel that some people take too long when deciding what to do when they should be spending more time on action. I find myself stating in my fraternity’s meetings “Let’s stop talking about it and just start doing it.” I feel like a lot of the time that too much discussion on what action to take can take away from the original goal in mind and that the focus could be directed away from what was originally wanted/needed. This is my Activator strength coming out in me. Wanting to get things started instead of just theoretically talking about what to do.

While being an Activator is a strength and can be used to motivate a group to put their plans into action, it also may make others feel that you are being pushy. My want for instant action and progress makes me very vocal about wanting to get things done. No one has voiced their concerns about me being pushy in the sense that I am too vocal or rude when I push for action but I have been told before that I am very vocal on my opinions and that I may accidentally come off as rude or intimidating. Gallup warns about others seeing your push for action as rude or intimidating and it is something I must watch because I can see how others might perceive my actions in that way.

Ideation

My final strength is Ideation. Gallup claims that Ideation talents include being an unconventional thinker, with fresh and creative ideas to solve problems. They also have a knack for being able to view and see issues from multiple perspectives. I feel personally that one of my top strengths is my ability to see things from multiple angles and be very diplomatic. I have been known by my previous friends that I am I good person to talk to when having issues with another because I can give a pretty unbiased view from both sides of the dispute.

Gallup suggests those who have Ideation as a strength to “think through your ideas before communicating them.” I definitely feel that doing so would help me. I have countless times thought of a great idea in my head but attempted to share it prematurely and other people did not quite understand it because I could not explain it well enough. I feel if I were finished my thought before sharing it, that they too would think it was a good idea but now I feel I cannot share it because it has already been dismissed. This would be one of the biggest weaknesses I have experienced with Ideation; excitedly sharing an idea prematurely.

Critical Analysis

My five top strengths all combine to make a specific leadership style that is unique to myself. Overall I believe that my leadership style would excel in a corporation or an organization that is having some internal or external issues. My Futuristic strength would be perfect for helping plan for a future of an organization that is currently struggling. I could use my “day-dreaming” of the future to help encourage others in the organization and help remind them that whatever problems we are facing may not always be there in the future and that things can and will get better if we work towards it. I could share my vision of a better future for the organization. Being Adaptable would also help an organization going through rough times. When an organization is struggling, one would want someone who is adaptable and can deal with the chaos of unexpected issues and that is exactly what one like myself with Adaptability as a strength can do. I could also tie in my Competitive nature to encourage the organization to be better than other organizations. This would be a great way to fire up employees and increase morale by encouraging them to become the top in our field and to beat out competitors. I very much have the “I want to be the best”, and that is exactly a trait you want in a leader. You want your organization to be the best at what it does and once a leader has that attitude, it will begin to flow to others within the organization.

My leadership ability is not only comprised of hoping for a better future and being able to adapt to problems that may or may not happen, but also of being able to initiate a plan. Being an Activator, I am able to encourage action among my peers. This would be perfect for an organization that knows what they want to do but are having issues getting past the planning phase. Ideation is also perfect for an organization that is undergoing problems. My unique view on issues and problem solving can help start ideas that may not have been thought of previously. Also my ability to be unbiased and see things from multiple angles is a good trait for a leader because they can then solve issues among members in an organization in a mature and respectful way without letting their own values get in the way.

My unique skills allow me to lead in a way that is specific to my traits and strengths. While I believe I would be a great leader overall, my strength set given to me by the Gallup StrengthsFinder quiz would allow me to specifically help an organization that is struggling, wants to prepare for the future, or one that needs help putting plans into actions.

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