An Unwavering, Strategic Hippie/Trivia-Buff with a To-Do List

It was my first day of my first real job. I’d just spent four grueling years earning a degree and I was ready’n’raring to do some honest engineering work. And what does my manager do? Hands me a book to read and a link to an online test. Not only that – it was a fuzzy personality profile-y thing.


The book was NOW, DISCOVER YOUR STRENGTHS and the test was The Strengthsfinder. I sulked in my clean cube (weren’t those the days), but finally opened the sucker. By approximately page 10, I was hooked. The authors, Marcus Buckingham and Dr. Donald O. Clifton, devised a personality profiling system based on over 2 million interviews from the Gallup Organization (a well-respected polling group). The credentials alone sucked me in…but I stayed for the brilliance.

This is no standard Myers-Briggs. No, sir. The profile has 34 discrete personality traits (or talents, as they call them). They gave the talents names such as Arranger, Ideation, Relator, Self-Assurance, etc. Essentially, each person approaches the world with a handful of these talents in the foreground and with others far on the backburner. In fact, the book states, the top five talents by themselves largely dictate how you interact with your environment.

As I am with most personality profile mumbo-jumbos, I don’t want to be pigeon-holed into a group of letters or talents or other such things. Personalities are mind-bogglingly complex. It’s impossible to boil us down into something so stagnant. Except, the book argues, these talents are like a piano…there may only be a certain number of keys, but the order, length, and power of how the musician plays the notes is what makes music in a near-infinite combination. They acknowledge that their test is a grainy LP of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, but it’s better than no recording at all.

I took The Strengthsfinder online test – not only because it was a job requirement, but because they’d spiked my interest. Of course, since you’re dying for a look-sy into my head, here are my top five talents; plus, my brief interpretation of them.

·         Strategic: My world is defined in a series of “what if” scenarios which I use to analyze outcomes until I come up with my plan – my strategy. And, as the author’s say, “Armed with your strategy, you strike forward.”
·         Focus: Basically, I set goals and it takes a bazooka blast to stop me – and even then it has to be a direct hit to the head or crotch. Any distraction, no matter how sexy, is a waste of my time. And *do not* waste my time.
·         Achiever: For me, every morning starts at zero and every night I tally up my achievements for the day…whether they be at work, in writing, or fun activities. This is my internal desire to DO STUFF. A facet of my personality that gets no greater satisfaction than checking off a To-Do item...until I cross it out too.
·         Input: I collect information. I store facts and file them away for a rainy day. Most the time, I’m not sure when I’ll need to access it, but I know that someday, I will.
·         Connectedness: Friends, welcome to my hippie side. I believe things happen for a reason. I’m sure of it, because in my soul I know that we are all connected…the book then moves on to say things like “you are sensitive to the invisible hand.”

Want to know something? This assessment is spot on.

And check out the complexity of my character through these top five concepts: Boiled down, I’m an unwavering, strategic hippie/trivia-buff with a to-do list. Think about if I shared with you the top 10, 28, or the full 34…but no one wants to see that deep into my soul.

So why am I blogging such personal stuff derived from a book I read…ummm…a while ago? Well, I’ve been working on some character development and it hit me – I should give each of my critical characters a Strengths Profile. Bam! In five-words, I created a unique decision-making process in each of them.

My hero will have Responsibility (a physiological ownership of things he commits to, while forcing him to take on more than he should) and my villain, Woo (there are no strangers, just friends he hasn’t met yet). A sidekick will display strong Competition (if she can’t win, there’s no point to playing). And that’s just one-of-five for each of them, adding in the others only makes a character deeper and more complex.

NOW, DISCOVER YOUR STRENGTHS provides me a full piano for my character sonata. Maybe the book will spark something in your character development too. At least it can give some insight on why your boss is crazy.

Okay, this blog is finished.

Check that one off my list. And then cross it out too. 
*Ahhhh* Now, that feels GREAT. 


Wow, this blog look so different. I didn't realize it was the YA Muses.

This sounds like a great book and idea. I'll have to look into it.

Ha! Kind of counterproductive for bosses to hand this book out, no? Good idea turning it into a writing tool. And, truthfully, I suppose we can never learn enough about ourselves (especially if learning has a positive effect on our writing). Peace out, Man!

Bret, you're such a Perspectivist.

I had a friend who hated the whole profiling thing. If anyone ever asked him what his Myers-Briggs was, he'd say "IDGF."

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