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The Strengths Book: Be Confident, Be Successful, and Enjoy Better Relationships by Realising the Best of You Perfect Paperback – April 28, 2010
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I thought this book would be an interesting read for several reasons. First, one of the authors, Robert Biswas-Diener, has produced some excellent research in the field of happiness, an area which has always appealed to me. Second, I work with college students, and I thought that this book might come in handy as a useful self-help manual.
Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed. In this book, the authors present a system of what they call Realise2 Strengths. Strengths can be Realised, which means that we use them regularly in our lives, or Unrealised, which means we have little opportunity to use them; other concepts included Learned Behaviours (behaviors which we continue to perform based on reward) and Weaknesses (less of a problem than Unrealised Strengths). So, the obvious goal from the above would to harness one's Realised Strengths, to look for opportunities to maximize Unrealised Strengths, and to minimize both Learned Behaviours and Weaknesses.
Sounds relatively straightforward, right? Well, it might be, except that there are SIXTY total Realise2 Strengths. The authors actually do a nice job of describing the strengths clearly and succinctly: each strength is given a 2-page overview which includes a "catchphrase" for that strength, ways that strength manifests in different areas (e.g., work, relationships, play), and a few examples of famous people who typify that strength. But the review of the specific strengths is not provided until the second half of the book. This seems like extremely poor organization, as the first half presents case studies--how is the reader supposed to understand the strengths at work in these examples when the strengths themselves have not yet been presented?
But my main problem with this book is that it provides NO means for the reader to assess his or her own strengths! The authors do often refer readers to their web site (strengths2020 dot com) and some of the free assessment tools which are available, but the Realise2 assessment is NOT free: the cost of a single assessment is 16.8 pounds, or close to 27 US dollars. It seems unfair that a reader could purchase this book with the goal of discovering his/her strengths only to learn that in order to truly do so, s/he would have to make an additional purchase.
I think that there are some solid concepts in this book, and it would likely have some utility in organizations wanting to improve performance or perhaps in career counseling situations. However, anyone purchasing this book should be aware of the need to purchase the Realise2 Assessment along with it.
In a succinct manner these different forms of personality traits are summarized by the authors as follows:
1. Marshal realized strengths for optimal performance
2. Maximize unrealized strengths for growth and development
3. Moderate learned behaviors for sustainable performance
4. Minimize weaknesses to make them irrelevant.
Then the authors proceed to the second portion of the book which is an alphabetized list of the Realize2 Strengths, presented in the fashions of 'if you have this, then your are that, and your strengths are mirrored in these famous people, what works and what to watch out for, 'strength' at work - occupations where you could find a fit, 'strength' at play - leisure suggestions you might enjoy, and 'Don't take it too far'. The strengths within the quotes range from qualities such as Action, Humility, Courage, Detail, Persuasion, Service, Scribe, etc. With this very helpful guide the reader finds both the realized and the unrealized strengths and how the authors see altering focus to take advantage of what we already have - the Potential Genius!
What makes this book work is the fact that it is an exploration of us and a rollicking good time to read. Highly recommended for those in the market for change in career, in hobby, in relationships, in LIVING! Grady Harp, May 10
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The purpose of this book is solely to promote the authors' company and their assessment methods.Read more