Now, Discover Your Strengths

In my Arabic class we were discussing creativity and education. We had very different views on the use and the need for creativity in teaching languages. We watched a clip on YouTube. Interestingly enough this clip and discussion led me to look for books by Sir Ken Robinson. Through the world of Amazon and a customer’s review I found my way to ‘Now, Discover Your Strengths: How to Develop Your Talents and Those of the People You Manage’ by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton. Though I found this book in the business section of the bookshop I think it is worth exploring for self discovery and development.

‘Now, Discover Your Strengths: How to Develop Your Talents and Those of the People You Manage’ looks at strengths and why is it important to focus on them rather than trying to build an all round personality. It goes on explaining how building one’s strength comes from attaining the appropriate knowledge and skill that will enhance one’s talent.

Of course some people know their talents and they can straight away benefit from the previous discussion on knowledge and skills. However, others don’t and here is where the focal point of the book comes in; The StrengthFinder. The Gallup organisation had conducted a study interviewing over two million excellent performers from different professions and of diverse knowledge, skill and talent. They came up with what they’ve called ‘Thirty-four themes of human talent’. These are not exhaustive but can be used as key notes or headings, a way of identifying areas of potential strength. The StrengthFinder profile is an online set of questions that gives the person’s five most dominant themes of talent. There’s a whole chapter on what each theme is and examples of what people of that theme said about themselves.

Before I went and completed the profile I read the section on the frequently asked questions. I probably wouldn’t have done that if I had internet access at the time; I would’ve preferred to do the profile first. Still I had the chance to consider the things other people had raised. Once I completed the profile I went back and reread the responses to the questions I was interested in most.

The book goes on explaining how one can use this knowledge of themes of talents to manage their teams. Here is where it started to feel like a management book. I think this is valuable even if you are not a manager. Can you imagine how productive and enjoyable it would be working in a team where the individuals promote and complement each other’s strengths? And why confine such concept to the workplace? Doesn’t our community, voluntary and dawah work deserve to be organised, efficient and productive?

So what were my themes of talent? I totally agreed with one, had to think about another. I am trying to get my head around the other three; even though I agree they are some of my traits I had never saw them as “talents”. I definitely reread the response to “Can I develop new themes if I don’t like the ones I have?”. This is just the beginning of the journey and this is one of the tools to clear the fog. So I am treading carefully and making the most of such knowledge.

I found ‘Now, Discover Your Strengths: How to Develop Your Talents and Those of the People You Manage’, a simple read with fascinating ideas. They gave lots of examples which helped in understanding the concepts they were putting forward. I read the book with much interest and would recommend it. Just make sure you buy a new copy as each book has a unique code that you’ll need when completing the online StrengthFinder profile.


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