Tag Archives: Talent

StrengthsFinder 2.0: Are You Using Your Talents Effectively?

In the last couple of months, I have been reading oodles of books. One of the books that I’ve come across is . There really isn’t much to the book on the inside, except for the first 30 pages or so, but there is a tear away code that you can use to take the test online. Unfortunately, I had borrowed this book from the library, so I was at a loss. However, I did some digging around on the internet and came across , which offered an access code (for a price) without the book. While buying the code from this site is more than buying a new book from Amazon ($20 vs. $15), I wasn’t interested in keeping a copy of StrengthsFinder (and, wasting more paper in the process), so I reasoned that just buying the code was satisfactory.

I would imagine that most people inclined to take a test like this (or any test, voluntarily), are probably the kind of people who have already taken tests, so they would have some idea of where their strengths would lie. This was the case with me, but it’s always nice to have your strengths/talents validated in another survey/test. In the first 30 pages of the book, the author makes the claim with data from research, that it has been discovered that working on one’s weaknesses is actually counterproductive. He offers the formula that one’s talents plus one’s investment (time spent practicing/developing skills) equals a strength. He argues that spending time developing one’s talent into a strength is a much better usage of one’s time (where most developmental tools argue that one should work on their weaknesses). The author isn’t advocating a total write-off of one’s weaknesses, it is still important to know where one’s weaknesses are.

This online test is meant to isolate your talents, and then give you ways that you can develop these talents into your strengths. Upon taking the test, the participant is given their top 5 themes [talents], along with personalized strengths insights and potential ways to enhance these talents. After taking the test, I was not surprised with the 5 themes that were scored as my highest (I’ve included the shared theme description):

Learner

“People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome,excites them.”

Ideation

“People who are especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.”

Achiever

“People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.”

Competition

“People who are especially talented in the Competition theme measure their progress against the performance of others. They strive to win first place and revel in contests.”

Positivity

“People who are especially talented in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.”

I can very much identify with the five themes that I was assessed as having. In fact, you could probably even further group these a little more. Competition and Achiever go together (people who compete also, I would think, often achieve), and then these two also fit together nicely with Learner (as you learn, you achieve, yes?).

The one thing that I think would have been cool about this that wasn’t available (or maybe it is for a fee?) is to have a readout of who else (famous or otherwise?) has a similar make-up to you. They say that they’ve polled over 10 million people, so I have to think that someone out there has had these 5 themes. In fact, I can be nearly certain using the . There are 501,942 different combinations of the 34 themes (choosing 5 each time), and if we want to take it a step farther, there are 45,435,424 different combinations (when we account for the order of the themes). So, while there may not have been someone who had the same 5 themes as me in this order, there is a very good chance that there is at least 1 other person who has had these 5 themes on their score.

I understand that supplying information like this would need permission from all of the people who have taken the test and getting permission after the fact is a difficult thing to do. And as I take a step back from this idea, I realize that I’m merely confirming one of my strengths (Ideation).

Spirituality From an Unlikely Source: Will Smith

I was on YouTube like I had been a and on the sidebar, I noticed a video under the suggestion heading by the title of: . I’ve always subscribed to the theory that our words and thoughts have an effect on the world around us (check out our or , and you’ll see some of the kinds of books that I recommend discuss these principles in their books), but I didn’t expect this kind of wisdom from a famous actor.

It’s not that I don’t think that Will Smith has the capacity to understand or even believe these kinds of things, it’ s just that with entertainers, it’s harder to imagine them outside of some of the roles they’ve played. After watching the almost 10-minute video of many clips spliced together where Will advocates the theory that our thoughts have a decided effect on the outcome of our lives, I couldn’t help but write a post here about it. In fact, I’ve even included the video at the end because I really think it’s worth the 10 minutes it takes to watch it.

One of the interesting perspectives that he offers is on talent and skill. He says:

Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.

I think that there is definitely truth to this and it is backed up by the work of in his book . In it, Gladwell purports that to be over-the-top successful at something, you need to spend upwards of 10,000 hours doing that something. Gladwell cites an example of , explaining to the reader that for 4 straight years, The Beatles were able to perform live in Germany. In this time, Gladwell claims that The Beatles accumulated over 10,000 hours of (practice) at their craft and that when they came back to England, they were an instant-hit. Gladwell also cites the example of Bill Gates who, when in high school, gained access to a computer. Gates spent nearly all of his free-time on this computer, accumulating hours and hours of (practice), which eventually led to .

Another interesting quote from the video:

You don’t try to build a wall. You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say I’m gonna build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built. You don’t start there. You say, I’m gonna lay this brick, as perfectly as a brick can be laid. And, you do that every single day, and soon you have a wall.

I’m sure this concept is not new to anyone, about “,” but it’s something that I think is worth repeating, and I think it’s also adds a different level of authority to hear someone like Will Smith say it.

I want to do good. I want the world to be better because I was here.

Wouldn’t it just be fabulous if we all walked around with this attitude: wanting the world to be better because we were here. Performing acts, volunteering, making a difference – making the world a better place.

I just believe that. I believe that I can create whatever I want to create.

Around of the video, he begins talking about how our thoughts are physical things in the universe.

Our thoughts, our feelings, our dreams, our ideas — are physical in the universe. That, if we dream something, if we picture something, if we commit ourselves to it, that is a physical thrust towards realization that we can put into the universe. That the universe is not a thing that’s gonna push us around. That the world and people and situations are not something that’s gonna push us around. That we are gonna bend the universe and command and demand that the universe become what we want it to be.

Celebrities can be a mixed bag. They can run the spectrum from those that are having a hard go of things, like , to those like Will Smith who use their celebrity for other means. Whenever I learn that a celebrity is involved in the kinds of thinking that Will Smith is, I can’t help but smile just a little bit, knowing that maybe our world really is changing faster than we know.