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Strengths Quest: Discover and Develop Your Strengths in Academics, Career, and Beyond 2nd ed. Edition
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The Gallup Organization has accumulated a wealth of research data from millions of respondents to identify their strengths. Some of the most recent books have examined this information, notably those written by Marcus Buckingham (e.g. Discover Your Strengths and then Go Put Your Strengths to Work) and Tom Rath (e.g. StrengthsFinder 2.0). What we have in this volume is another important contribution to our understanding of how to identify strengths and then leverage them to achieve success "in academics, career, and beyond." It was co-authored by Donald Clifton and Edward ("Chip") Anderson with Laurie Schreiner and offers a substantial value-added benefit, a self-assessment that they urge their reader to complete first. An access code is provided and is valid for one user only.
In the Preface, Anderson acknowledges that prior to a presentation by Clifton, he had "always assumed that that top achievers set high goals and low achievers set low goals. But research indicates that top achievers tend to set goals slightly above their current level of performance, whereas low achievers often set very, very high goals." He goes on to point out that "top achievers build their academic and personal lives - and later their careers - on their talents. They use those talents as the foundation of strengths development, and they apply those strengths to produce excellence." This is the core concept of the book.
So, what are your strengths? To answer that question, first complete the 30-minute online "StrengthsQuest" self-assessment and print a copy. I also recommend that you print a copy of the summary version. The information completes the first three aspects (i.e. discovery, development, and application) of what Clifton and Anderson characterize as a "lifelong adventure." Next, guided and informed by what the results indicate, focus on further development of your strengths. In this context, "focus" is a key word. Frankly, I shudder when recalling my efforts in years past to try to increase what seemed to be my strengths while struggling (at the same time) to eliminate my weaknesses. Without focus, the mixed results were inevitable, and disappointing. Worse yet, when entrusted with supervisory responsibilities, I made the same mistake with those for whom I was directly responsible.
Of special interest to me is what Clifton and Anderson have to say about what they call "signature themes." That is, dominant areas of talent. They acknowledge five difficulties when accepting and then affirming one's themes (e.g. "many people are blind to their own greatest talents, and often the greatest talents of others"). In Chapter III, they identify 34 of these themes. For purposes of illustration, let's say that the results of your "StrengthsQuest" self-assessment reveal these five:
Achiever helps to explain your drive, a constant need for achievement both as an individual and as member of a team.
Belief indicates that you have certain core values that are enduring. They give your life meaning and satisfaction.
Deliberation suggests that you are a careful, vigilant, reflective, and private person. Rather than denying risks, you rigorously examine them.
Ideation means that you are fascinated by ideas and are delighted when you discover beneath the complex surface an elegantly simple concept to explain why things are the way they are.
Woo stands for winning others over. You enjoy the challenge of meeting new people and gaining their affection and trust. They energize you.
Clifton and Anderson briefly discuss these and each of the other 34 signature themes. It is important to keep in mind that their comments as well as the results of the "StrengthsQuest" self-assessment are descriptive rather than definitive. Think of them as probabilities, not certainties. In this context, I am reminded of Walt Whitman's acknowledgement in "Song of Myself":
"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes." (ll. 1314-1316)
Throughout the remaining chapters in their book, Clifton and Anderson provide both information and counsel that will help their reader proceed through the second and third dimensions of her or his "lifelong adventure," development, and application. Of course, new discoveries suggest new strengths to develop and reveal new opportunities in which to apply them. To me, what is most exciting about the StrengthsQuest is that it can - and should - continue on two separate but interdependent levels: as an individual and as someone who can help others during their own "lifelong adventure" of discovery, development, and application.
This review is somewhat longer than I originally intended but I felt (and feel) obligated to be as specific as possible when explaining why I think so highly of what Donald Clifton and Edward ("Chip") Anderson offer, in collaboration with Laurie Schreiner. Their book is indeed a brilliant achievement.
This is a great book but the thing is it has a code in it that only allows the book to be used once. If the book is used then you also need to go online somewhere and purchase a code for the book's online tests. It would probably be cheaper and to your benefit to just by the book NEW!! Thanks for reading and God bless you!! I just don't want you to end up in the same boat I was in and have to buy the book twice!!
In Jesus' Love,
StrengthsQuest is different. It really does focus on what you do well and how to use your strengths to their utmost potential. I began to see that my thoughts and behavior were actually very unique. Other self-assessments would always compare me to others, while StrengthsQuest would emphasize how I am set apart and better.
I encourage any working higher education, faculty and staff alike, to read and use this book. I strongly recommend working with a team of people through StrengthsQuest. And whatever you do, do not purchase a used copy of this book because the code that is associated with the book is good for one use.
Also, if you are looking for an inexpensive option, you may go to the StrengthsQuest website. You can purchase a code and the entire book is online once you register your code.
Not as easy a read as strengthsfinder 2.0 but goes into more depth for those who really want to use their assessment to do more detailed planning for academics and career.