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Now, Discover Your Strengths: How to Develop Your Talents and Those of the…

by Marcus Buckingham, Donald O. Clifton, Donald O. Clifton

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3,044223,917 (3.67)5
Based on a Gallup study of over two million people who have excelled in their careers, this text uses a program to help readers discover their distinct talents and strengths.

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Based on a Gallup study of over two million people who have excelled in their careers, this text uses a program to help readers discover their distinct talents and strengths.
  OLibrary | Mar 21, 2022 |
I read with interest, and took the quiz at the web site, and as an indicator of how applicable they are, I have hardly referred to the results since then. I really like the concept that success is more likely to come from utilizing one's strength. But going from knowing one's strengths to utilizing them is the difficulty. ( )
  bread2u | Jul 1, 2020 |

I've to this one with a solid decade of reading neuroscience and positive psychology behind me, so not only am I already familiar with the research he cites, but I am well aware of when it is misused. Let's just get this out of the way before we discuss any strengths (haha) the book may have, as I have yet to see its weaknesses covered in any of the reviews:

a) it is NOT TRUE that you can't significantly strengthen your weaknesses. Read The Brain that Changes Itself for a good introduction. Saying that most of us DON'T change is NOT the same thing. Even his own statistics don't support him: yes, you can draw a 0.7 to 0.9 correlation between people's scores on personality tests over time, but this is an AVERAGE--there will be some people with a 0.99 correlation and other people with a 0.5 correlation. Some people do change significantly over time, and it is worth discussing how and why, and when this is important. Not to mention that a 0.7 correlation is impressive, but it implies a CHANGE of 0.3--and that's not insignificant. (I've read a few of his books at this point and parts of this are drawn from more than one of them.)

It takes a lot of hard work and effort over a serious amount of time to really change an aspect of personality, and it likely is not worth it if you're trying to tackle something benign like "I hate public speaking." But some people's 'weaknesses' are serious character defects that cause harm to their friends, families and colleagues, and these folks should absolutely be expected to put the time and effort required into real change. Moreover, much research has shown that it CAN be done. So wtf, Buckingham?

b) The ipsative nature of the scoring makes the tool of use only on an individual level, though the author argues that organizations can use this in hiring. Nuh uh. No way.

So, the strengthsfinder gives you your top five strengths in business contexts. Handy, if you're trying to figure out what job to take or a continuing ed course or how to tackle some big project at work. But.

But it doesn't give you a SCORE. Just a list of your top five. Just because you and your best friend both have "empathy" as a top strength doesn't mean you're equally empathic; indeed, just because your best friend's top strength is "empathy" and it doesn't even appear on your top five doesn't mean you're not in fact MORE empathic than your friend. Maybe your best friend is mediocre in everything and even their top strengths are not very strong. This is harmless so long as it is used for self-discovery and planning, but used for hiring and promotions, as Buckingham openly advocates?

Stupidest idea ever. Sorry.

(deep breath)

So, the pluses: it was certainly rigorously researched and the central thesis of focusing on developing strengths rather than correcting weaknesses has a lot to recommend it. Much research backs up their claim that this is a better use of resources for corporations, and that I will buy. I was amused by the test results (I am very good at thinking: I like thinking abstractly, thinking about concepts, thinking about strategies, collecting thoughts, and then, when all of this is done, thinking about my values and beliefs. And yes, those are my top five strengths. They do seem somewhat repetitive, no?) and given previous experience with Seligmen et al's research on character strengths, not entirely convinced by them. I mean, yes, I love thinking--but it's not all I do, not even at work, and I got much more balanced results from less commercially-oriented researchers.

Incidentally, the tests developed by the positive psychology researchers, who are also looking at character strengths and how to focus on them, are available for free on the internet--you don't need to buy the book to take the test. Just an fyi. It's a brilliant marketing strategy but that doesn't make it sound science. ( )
  andrea_mcd | Mar 10, 2020 |
  JRCornell | Feb 5, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Marcus Buckinghamprimary authorall editionscalculated
Clifton, Donald O.main authorall editionsconfirmed
Clifton, Donald O.main authorall editionsconfirmed

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to my wife, Jane, strong enough for three... -- Marcus
to those who helped me discover my strengths -- my wife, Shirley, and our family -- Don
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Guided by the belief that good is the opposite of bad, mankind has for centuries pursued its fixation with fault and failing.
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Based on a Gallup study of over two million people who have excelled in their careers, this text uses a program to help readers discover their distinct talents and strengths.

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