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You're a Libra, aren't ya darlin?

J. Harry Caufield

Time for another personal assessment! This one is the Clifton Strengths Finder, provided by Gallup. I got a code through the class I am participating in so I suspect this test requires a monetary cost. Let's see if that extra bit of investment leads to any valuable insights.

The assessment asks a series of timed questions with paired answers. One of the two answers in each pair can be answered with "Strongly Agree" or "Agree". There's also the option to answer neutrally. Because each question is timed and only allows about 20 seconds to answer, the assessment appears to encourage answering based on initial impressions. I found this to be challenging as many of the questions aren't clear-cut dichotomies: one option may read "I think all people would steal if they had the chance" while the other option reads "People who steal should be punished." In some instances, the options diverge more in tone (i.e., one option sounds optimistic while another sounds pessimistic, or one concerns the past while the other discusses the future) than in content or conclusion. I really couldn't agree with either of the options for some question pairs and had to seek refuge in the Neutral Zone.

As per the name, the results of the Strengths Finder are a list of strengths. These are mine:
1    Analytical
2    Learner
3    Ideation
4    Input
5    Self-Assurance

There's also an expanded list for a total of 34 strength categories. Each category has accompanying explanatory material.
It's interesting to see how all the test results are framed as strengths rather than strength/weakness dichotomies like the Igniter tests I took. While I appreciate the positivist attitude and reduced reliance on binary choices, the resulting lack of resolution in the results diminishes the "yes that certainly sounds like me" factor. In the end, that may be a preferable result as it encourages self-discovery rather than reliance on pre-conceived identity.  

So what can I learn or apply from these results? I can't deny being an analytical person and I do actively enjoy learning. The Ideation category is a little more general but the corresponding material describes people with strong Ideation as  being "...fascinated by new ideas and concepts, which come to them easily." OK, that sounds accurate as well. Input and Self-Assurance roughly translate as "thirst for knowledge" and "confidence in one's judgement". Once again, doesn't seem inaccurate.

Interestingly, my lowest-scoring strength was Harmony, which the material frames as "natural practicality and preference for emotional balance". I find most conflict unproductive and generally avoid it, so I'm surprised this one is at the bottom of the list. The text explains: "building consensus and ensuring people get along are not likely your top priorities".

A few bon-mot suggestions from the results material:

  • "Accept that at times you will need to move before all the facts are in place."
  • "Be a catalyst for change. Others might be intimidated by new rules, new skills, or new circumstances. Your willingness to soak up this “newness” can calm their fears and spur them to engage. Take this responsibility seriously." 
  • "You get bored quickly, so make small changes in your work or home life. Experiment. Play mental games with yourself. All of these will help keep you stimulated."
  • "Deliberately increase your vocabulary. Intentionally collect new words and learn their meanings."
  • "Seek start-up situations for which no rule book exists. You will be at your best when you are asked to make many decisions."
Overall: not a bad assessment and potentially even useful. It does feel like reading a horoscope but that may just come with the territory.