For a long time, I have heard colleagues and friends rave about this book. So this week I finally pulled it off of my “should read” shelf and took it for a spin.
Rath's famous book gets a thumbs up for readability and simplicity, not to mention the depth of scholarship underpinning his models. There is wisdom here, especially for those wearing golden handcuffs, feeling stuck in ill-fitted careers.
Far too many people spend a lifetime headed in the wrong direction (p.30)
I also liked his positive focus and I can see where that alone is a significant driver of the book’s success. The other element I really appreciated was the explanation that talent alone does not equate to strength; investment is also necessary.
What really makes it appealing is that this is not a regular book, where you and I read the same words and interpret them in our own ways. After a brief introduction, you (the reader) are pointed to a web site where a code from the book can be entered, allowing you to take a quick online assessment of your personal strengths. The output is a list of a few areas where you are likely to shine, which affirmed many things I knew from life experience and other assessments, and suggestions about how to make the most of these strengths.
The book is certainly worth the read and may yield some great insights, depending on what you have already done and experienced in the way of self-awareness and discovery. For me, it quickly reaffirmed several things that I already focus on every day (nice), and, while I understand and respect the need to move from deficit-based self-improvement models that assume we are broken, I would have been more inclined to take action on the findings if they covered some necessary areas in work and life where I know I am not excelling.
I am compelled to write, do research, and give voice to the ideas that move me— and to help others do the same. My strengths finder results suggest that I stay the course, which feels good to me.
Yet there is a contextual element that is missing from my admittedly cursory reading.
Which of our strengths we bring forth in any situation must be, at least in part, driven by the opportunities available at the time and, in the case of entrepreneurs, a workable business model that is aligned not only with a grander strategic vision, but also executable in the competitive environment where we find ourselves.
Will I use the findings?
…but I will use them as support for the self-awareness portion of my own SOS model for workplace and personal success. This model entreats us to be attuned not only to ourselves, but also to others and the situation in which we collectively find ourselves.
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