So why did my Strengths Report make me cry?
My reaction was a living example of the core argument that Tom Rath makes. We take all our time and energy working to correct our shortcomings, rather than amplifying and developing our strengths. Attention paid to our strengths would have a disproportionately positive effect on our lives compared to time spent dealing with our weaknesses. We’d excel rather than evening out the bad bits which will never come naturally to us. But I was devastated I didn’t magically reveal the characteristics I’ve always wanted – which in truth are the shortcomings I’ve always focussed on. And I secretly wanted my answers to instantly reveal the path I should take.
But, sigh. I did so want my skills to come out as the blueprint for some sort of self-employed, creative, consultative small-business running entrepreneur. It’s the female dream these days. I think I’ll kill myself if I read another Sunday Times Style magazine on these multi-tasking entrepreneur mums who balance baby with Balenciaga all while working flexi-hours at home on their macbook pro running an interior design business, and shop, and blog. But God! How much I want it! It is the unachievable 21st Century dream and its unachievability in my eyes terrifies me and makes me feel sick to my stomach at my inability to create it for myself.
All I wanted these results to show was that I’m secretly ideally positioned for such a fulfilling, desirable job. This did not happen. Nor was my skill set matched in my current job. Though that was always abundantly clear. My skills came out as things that I view as entirely useless in creating this idyllic life that I’m so desperate to achieve.
So, what was I? Number 1 – Learner. Oh my GOD. LEARNER. I already know that I can learn effectively enough to get the top bracket in pretty much any exam I take (Driving Test NOT included), though I forget the information soon afterwards. But how the hell is the ability to be a good student going to help this terrifying unreachable job where I can earn good money, find intellectual and creative fulfilment, be able to have a family, and not be tied to London?
Ahem. Suffice to say my other skills centre around this sort of area (indeed I noted to myself “IT’S JUST THE SAME THING REPEATED TO DEPRESS ME”), but not the driving revolutionary strengths I was vaguely hoping would spring into being. I’m being put in touch with someone who works with this framework all the time in the hope that she will throw new light onto this set of skills and I don’t have to face an inevitable future as a hermetic university lecturer. Though if anyone has an idea of the perfect life plan for someone who is ace at learning and is freakishly responsible, I’m all ears. Especially if it’s Sunday Times Style magazine feature worthy.