“I am aware of being in a beautiful prison, from which I can only escape by writing.”
“Don’t wait for it,” I said. “Create a world, your world. Alone. Stand alone. Create. And then the love will come to you, then it comes to you. It was only when I wrote my first book that the world I wanted to live in opened to me.”
I recently started a new job, and as the whole team had completed a strengths assessments test prior to my joining, my director thought it would be a good idea for me to do this as well. I was excited because I love doing things like this and getting some insight into myself. The test is called the CliftonStrengths34 by Gallup and consists of 177 paired statements for the test taker to pick the one that best describes them. The assessment costs $60 (although there are some simplified options for $20) so I was pleased that the company was paying for it.
The test takes one hour and starts ominously with the question: “Do you love your job?” “Yes I love it.” “No, I do NOT love it”. I was sweating bullets? Is this a trick? There wasn’t even a middle ground option and I am a middle ground babe. LOVE? Damn that is a strong word. I cannot use the word “Love” to describe any acts of labour. Besides I had only been at the job for a month at that point. I left the test for a little bit, and then came back and clicked “No, I do NOT love it” Hell be damned.
Early on into the test I started having doubts about the validity and efficacy of this test. I suck at picking between A or B; I’m always a little bit of this, a little bit of that so I found myself picking neutral quite a few times. Plus one hundred and seventy seven items are a lot and I started to feel fatigued. Some of the questions were funny, some were deep. “I have a purpose in my life……My life is very enjoyable”. It made me sad that I could not relate to either and had to be neutral.
Despite my doubts, I found the results pretty accurate. I read all the reports hungrily and as always I enjoyed seeing all the little intricacies of myself written down. The rest provides 34 strengths with a focus on the top ten for which more detail is provided. An overall leading theme is also provided from one of the ones in the picture below. As part of the details in the report, you get a breakdown of how each of the strengths manifests in your life and work, as well as tips to maximise them and blind spots to be aware of.
I will share the top five, but I really just wanted to post the first one now (that’s the whole reason for this post). The results are in italics and my reflections are not.
Input You are inquisitive. You collect things. You might collect information—words, facts, books and quotations—or you might collect tangible objects such as butterflies, baseball cards, porcelain dolls or sepia photographs. Whatever you collect, you collect it because it interests you. And yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting. The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity. If you read a great deal, it is not necessarily to refine your theories but, rather, to add more information to your archives. If you like to travel, it is because each new location offers novel artifacts and facts. These can be acquired and then stored away. Why are they worth storing? At the time of storing it is often hard to say exactly when or why you might need them, but who knows when they might become useful? With all those possible uses in mind, you really don’t feel comfortable throwing anything away. So you keep acquiring and compiling and filing stuff away. It’s interesting. It keeps your mind fresh. And perhaps one day some of it will prove valuable.
This is me to the LETTER! I find it so difficult to get rid of things, no matter how useless they appear. How did Gallup/Mr Clifton know this? Perhaps one day some of it will prove valuable. I hope so. More on this strength.
Instinctively, you probably enjoy reading because it gives you so many topics to talk about other than yourself. Characteristically you prefer to discuss ideas rather than delve — that is, make a detailed search for information — into your own or another’s personal life.
You have a craving to know more. I want to know everything.
You want to be as informed as possible about what lies ahead in the coming months, years or decades. Even so, knowledge about potential problems, difficulties or issues can be distressing and disturbing. It can raise your anxiety level. By nature, you characteristically read books, periodicals, documents, correspondence or Internet sites. You are willing to be mentally stimulated by thought-provoking ideas, information, data, predictions, insights, characters or plots.
Me. Me. Me.
The tips on maximising this strength are:
Find out more about areas you want to specialize in. Consider jobs or volunteer opportunities where you can acquire and share information every day, such as teaching, journalism or research work. I have always considered doing something for newspaper or magazine. This was more because of my love of writing but I can see how my need for information would make this a fit as well.
Regularly read books and articles that motivate you. Increase your vocabulary by collecting new words and learning their meaning. I don’t read as much as I should (thanks Netflix) but when I do I do note all the words that I don’t know the meaning of and look them up.
Devise a system to store and easily locate information you have found so you can access it quickly. Use whatever approach works best for you — a file for articles you have saved, a database or spreadsheet, or a list of your favorite websites. Good idea. For now I use the notes app on my phone, sticky notes, and bookmarks/favourites function. I hoard everything. I have tabs on my phone that have been open for years now.
Position yourself as an expert. Share your exceptional archive of facts, data and ideas with others when they need help or advice. This is something I would like to do more. I saw on Linkedin that someone I went to school with organised a training workshop and it made me wonder what exactly it is that I am good at. I have worked for 6 years and some, yet I don’t really feel like an expert in anything. I definitely need to pick this up.
Seek out subject-matter experts who would be interested in knowing what you are learning and who would find it stimulating to hear about the questions and ideas you generate through your exploration. Once I understand exactly what this means I will be sure to implement it.
The blind spot for this is as follows:
Unrestrained input can lead to intellectual or physical clutter. Consider occasionally taking inventory and purging what you don’t need so that your surroundings — and your mind — don’t become overloaded. This is great advice that I need to implement asap. There is so much junk that I am holding onto for no reason, but it is so difficult to do so ugh.
I will post about the other strengths later on but I just really wanted to share the first one. As always I am inspired to use this to improve my life and drive myself closer to living a fulfilled life. As always there is the risk that I do absolutely nothing with this information. Oh well. We shall see.