Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Shut Up Strengths Finder | Work On Your Weaknesses

I bought into the marketing of two popular books, but after a few years of life experience, searching out that ideal I've realized something...  

Strengths Finder is a real popular book.  Maybe you've read it and done the test.  I've got friends that are super PASSIONATE about this book.  I've done the test, I did it a while back though, I'll write a post on Friday to let you know what my top strengths are and other aspects of my "personality."  

I think Strengths Finder is a valuable tool.  When I first got introduced to these personality tests, the friend that introduced me to them told me they were so validating.  And it's true, it's strange to read a personality profile and realize that you think and act just like they are describing.  Sometimes it even brings clarity on why you do what you do.  

Anyway, the premise of Strengths Finder is to really focus your time on your strengths instead of trying to be a well rounded person.  When I read that as a young twenty something, I thought that made a lot of sense.  

Here's what wikipedia has to say.

The theory behind the book is that each adult individual possesses a certain number of fixed universal personal-character attributes, defined by the authors as "Personal Themes" which in combination effect the individuals tendency to develop certain skills more easily and excel in certain fields while failing in others.
The authors claim that by identifying the individual strength of the members of the organization, its members can be utilized in more suiting positions, hence developing the required skills easily, helping to reduce turnover, improve employee morale and the organization's overall performance.

Here's what I'm realizing.  

Your strengths, will impress people.  But your weaknesses will wound them.

Just the other night, someone I know got an e-mail from a mutual friend, and it was very pastoral.  The person who sent the e-mail is an evangelist and a teacher, not a pastor.  But I was so impressed that this person took the time to check up on someone in a caring pastoral way.  I know that, that person has had to consciously WORK at being more pastoral in his years of ministry.  

Often times in charismatic Christianity (does it happen in non charismatic Christianity too?) we excuse peoples poor behavior because "well, they just aren't pastoral" or excuse their lack of organization because "well, they just aren't administrative." 

I'll say it again.  If you're leading people, you will impress them with your strengths and you will wound them with your weaknesses.  

I don't know why but if you're leading something, anything.  People are going to have unrealistic expectations on you.  They are looking up to you, you've been placed on a pedestal.  (Cue the Dido and Eminem song)  

Has this ever happened to you?  You're at a conference listening to someone speak and you're captivated by their message, and their passion and their presentation.  And then you go to talk with them afterward, and it's almost like it was a different person on stage.  You're let down, disappointed.  

I pastored at a church for a year.  Because I'm an introvert Sunday mornings made me anxious.  There were Sundays where I would stay in my office for as long as I could.  I hated the mingle time, but there was an expectation that I, as a pastor, would be outgoing.  People wanted to talk to me.  Being outgoing makes people feel valued and comfortable.  Hiding in my office makes people feel like I don't care.  It's not that I didn't care, I would have just, much rather met with them one-on-one over a cup of coffee.  

I've come a long way since then.  I still don't feel super comfortable in those situations, but I've realized the value of greeting people, and small talk.  And it's something that I've worked on.  I was pretty excited recently when someone thought I was an extrovert. 

The other book is Linchpin by Seth Godin which I didn't actually finish.  The subtitle of the book is "are you indispensable."  

Here's the first paragraph from the Amazon description.  

There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there’s a third team, the linchpins. These people invent, lead (regardless of title), connect others, make things happen, and create order out of chaos. They figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers.  They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art.    

The problem here with strengths finder and linchpin is this reality...  Most organizations are too busy putting out fires, swimming with their heads barely above water, so they don't have the time to leverage their employees strengths, and leverage those linchpins.  

I'd like to see a company or organization that is really doing this well.

So what do you think?  

Engage: Did you do Strengths Finder?  What are your top 5? Do you think its important to work on your weaknesses?  Do you know a company that is really leveraging its employees strengths   Let us know in the comments!  


  1. I completely agree with this, Jim. I think the premise behind so many personality tests and self-discovery tools; that you can only discover who you are, not change it, is fundamentally flawed. Because the truth is, we CAN actually change, and not only can we change but we all do it every day.

    As an INTP (the "absent-minded professor"-type) myself, I'm realizing that for my strengths, I have some severe pitfalls that I need to work on. Specifically, I want to become more extroverted and organized. And the truth is, that is actually very possible. I'm experiencing that the more I act like the person I want to be, the more others start to perceive me that way, and in the end I actually become a little more like it. That doesn't mean I don't like myself, or that I'm being dishonest. It simply means that I love the people around me enough to want to be the best version of myself for them.

    And these are my top five:

  2. thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. In my experience with learning styles, the smartest thing I heard/read was that knowing the results of such indicators gives you a place from which to start. Improving skills in week areas and refining skills natural to you.

  4. good thoughts

  5. hmm interesting point jim.... [ps - hope you guys are doing well! kind of random that i'm commenting i know...]

    i'm a big fan of sf but even bigger for the mbti. i think both assessments, when processed in community - like working teams or working orgs - can give you a fast forward to working with your team and that's a huge advantage. i do think, in some circles, we've elevated the strengths/personality to where its about the assessment instead of about the person and how they fit into the team. "oh you are a activator so you must do this..." that's kind of backwards.

    i agree with you too on orgs that are too busy fighting fires. but i think that's the whole point. if we work through these as a team - keeping in mind the org as a whole, and get some clarity on our team, maybe we can reverse the trend.

    i was first introduced to the mbti by a mentor in college. and mosaic in la was where i first heard of the strengthsfinder. i had never heard of a church before, or since for that matter, that places such a high emphasis on helping people find out what they are good at and then deploying them for the sake of the world.

  6. great thoughts Tony! Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I do think that these things can be a good tool, to see what peoples natural strengths are, so that they can be most effective, however, when we use it as an excuse to only work on those things I think that can be a serious detriment.
    I'm learning in this season that even our personalities have to bow their knee and be submitted to Christ sometimes.
    thanks for reading and commenting!

  7. last year everybody was talking about the MBTI and here also. This year i had the impression that some were making excuses saying "i'm a I so cannot...". during our personality week we took 5 different tests (MBTI, DISC, Strength Finder, ...) but with the purpose to find the common denominator, our power alley. and it was helpful to receive a bigger perspective. i read also (i'm not quite sure of the words) that people can only acknowledge your strengths and victories but they can identify themselves to your weaknesses and mistakes... And when we learn from our weaknesses we can lead others on the same way.

  8. "people can only acknowledge your strengths and victories but they can identify themselves to your weaknesses and mistakes" i like that a lot, thanks for sharing!


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