Thursday, September 13, 2007

My top 5 strengths [be afraid, be very afraid]

Overheard someone talking about this at an airport recently. It's an American business fad for discovering people's strengths. The theory goes that too many people focus on fixing their shortcomings instead of playing to, well, their strengths. Pollsters Gallup developed a test to identify individual strengths, as a tool for helping managers and their staff get the best from each other. I'm a sucker for these things, so sent off to the US and completed the online test yesterday.

The questions identify your top 5 strengths from 34 categories. These include the likes of adaptability, communication, empathy, includer, learner, restorative and the intriguingly named woo. Sadly, I don't have woo in my top 5, which was a bit of a disappointment. So according to these online test, what are my five strongest traits? Achiever, strategic, learner, competition and focus.

Achievers have a constant need for - unsurprisingly - achievement. They must do something tangible every day to feel good about themselves. They've an internal drive to always do more. Relentless, and probably never content.

Strategic people find the best route through a cluttered task. They have a unique perspective ont he world, can see patterns amid complexity. They will cull whatever stands in the way of the goal. They ask what if, choose a target and pursue it.

[Stop me if you see a pattern emerging here...]

Learners are energized by gaining knowledge, adding skills and making new discoveries. Often the process of learning is more exciting than the results or the content. This enables learneres to thrive in projects that involve cramming new material.

Competition is all about comparison, judging performance against that of others. Achievement alone is not enough, these people need to outperform others. They compete to win, not to play the game. They prefer contests with a definite winner.

Focus is all about setting goals. Focus people need to know where they're going, they determine priorities and efficiently filter out impediments. Focus people get impatient with delays, obstacles and tangents. Progress is essential.

In summary: I set goals, get pleasure from winning and yet always want to achieve and discover more. But anyone who gets in my way or impedes my progress is liable to get cast aside. Yikes. I think there's one word that sums all this up: driven.

But I've long since recognised this tendency in myself. Hell, when things got too easy for me as a comics editor I would deliberately sabotage the status quo in order to create a fresh challenge.

It's why I need deadlines, why I struggle to write material on spec without a clear goal or end point. That's not to say I don't have other strengths, but this test certainly hit a few nails on the head.


D.TAYLOR said...

If you don't know your own strengths then isn't one of you weaknesses lack of self awareness?!!! Does the test mention if knowing your own strength is in itself a strength?! (I hate to think how much this cost you!)

David Bishop said...

The book cost about seven quid, thanks to a generous exchange rate. Like I said in the blog post, I certainly recognise my natural tendencies. I just enjoy these kind of things as a reality check.

English Dave said...

As a writer you have to have a built in reality check. It's called 'fuck you, and still get paid'

That balance keeps the writer sane ...ish. Categories are for managers, not writers.

Paul Campbell said...

So, how are the plans for world domination shaping up?

I've always felt that one of my strengths as a writer is the ability to stare out of a window for hours on end without writing a word.

Billy said...

This is more of the marketing/statistic led culture's obsession with categorising people for the purposes of selling shit. You pay a load of marketing assholes a room full of money and they still come back with the label "undefinables" for 2000ad readers ;)