Friday, March 15, 2013

Career and Personality Testing - A Limited Personal Perspective

I recently did a quick read of Tom Rath's The Strength Finder 2.0.  In it he suggests that people would be more effective in many areas of their lives if they focused on making their natural strengths and talents stronger rather than trying to 'fix' their weaknesses.  Its an interesting thought.  I loved the first sentence of the book.  "At its fundamentally flawed core, the aim of almost any learning program is to help us become who we are not."  There is a web site that accompanies the book, on which you can take a test to discover your top 5 'strengths'.

I took the test and my top strength is Responsibility.  My initial reaction to this was frustration and disappointment.  I was hoping for Teaching or Mentoring.  Ironically, neither of these two appear as one of the 34 possible strengths listed in the book.  After a couple of days of pondering this result, I can see that I do have a strong sense of responsibility.  Apparently, I have to figure out how to leverage that to my advantage.  I have to say, I don't have much appetite for that right now.

I mentioned this book and my test result to a friend on the bus our daily commute into work the other day.  He is a production accountant in the oil industry.  He laughed and told me about a career test he took just before finishing high school.  It suggested that he should get into hotel management.  At the time, he thought the result was a bit off the wall.  Looking back now, he wonders if that test wasn't closer to the mark than he thought.  It turns out his uncle went into hotel management, and ended up being quite (read very, very) successful.

 I took a career test in high school and remember being (again) disappointed with the result.  I was so put-off that I didn't even both to remember what the result was.  I have always been bothered with personality/career tests in general.  They seem so impersonal and yet could potentially carry so much weight.  Did they work for you?  I'd love to hear some experiences and/or stories...

Sept 22, 2013 - Update
After continuing to ponder my results from this test, particularly my 'top' strength, I can see how it has influenced my decisions over the years - the big life changing decisions.  Here's an example - I was once invited to play as a drummer in a church band that I had dreamed about playing in.  They played songs I wanted to play with the level of quality that I really appreciated.  However, I felt I had to decline the invitation to play because I was already committed to helping a smaller, less developed church with their music ministry.  The leader of that progressive church band who had given me the invite became internationally known over then few years.  I've often wondered what would have happened had I taken advantage of that opportunity instead of declining it. 

I am and continue to be interested in how these '5 strengths' impact and influence me.  My top 5 strengths are: Responsibility, Futuristic, Intellection, Arranger, and Includer.  The book talks about how to use them to your advantage.  There are many times where I feel that while they are definitely at work in me and influencing my thoughts and decisions, they work against me.  Sometimes, I just want a break from responsibility for a bit!

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