Sunday, March 8, 2009

1 Down 76 To Go...The Personal MBA

I just completed my first book in the Personal MBA program; Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. This book comes from the Quick Start section of the PMBA which you start before delving into the various "classes" of books.

The book is about, well, finding your strengths. It comes with a code in the book that allows you to log on online and complete the test to determine your top five strengths, fifty ideas for action to help build on those strengths, and some other helpful information. I must admit I got the book from the library and someone already logged in the code so I was unable to get online to take advantage of the automated strength selector. So I had to do it the old fashion way and select my strengths directly out of the book. I might just buy the book so I can get my own code so I can have access to the action ideas and other information. With that being said, I did what I said I was going to do and used a 3 x 5 note card as a book mark and took notes on it. Here are some of the notes I took while reading the book as well as the top 5 themes that I felt best represented my strengths. I would love to hear comments from those who know me on how accurate you think I was in determining my own strengths. All of these notes are extremely simplified from the explanations in the book but you get the gist.


- Invest in developing strengths not correcting deficiencies

- Look for opportunities to do what you do best

- Managers ignoring people is worse than managers who focus on people's weaknesses. People become disengaged

- Take action! Align job and goals with natural talents

- We take the path of MOST resistance. Spend most of our time/resources on our weaknesses

- You can't be anything you want, but you can be a lot more of what you already are

- Why don't most people utilize the strengths approach? Because most are unable to describe their strengths or others strengths

- Knowledge, skills, regular practice amplify natural talent. Talent X Investment = Strength


Top 5 (OK 6) Themes:

- Achiever - Explains your drive. Constant need for achievement. Internal Fire.

- Communication - I thought this was a strength but after I went back and reread it didn't really pop out like the others did instantly

- Empathy - Sense emotions of those around you. Don't necessarily agree but seek to understand

- Ideation - Fascinated by ideas. Idea is a connection. Looking for connections. New perspectives. Energized by new ideas.

- Learner - Love to learn. Enjoy process more than result. Energized on deliberate journey to learn

- Positivity - Generous with praise, quick to smile, always seeking positive in situation. People want to be around you. Good to be alive!

- Responsibility - Psychological ownership for any commitments. Emotionally bound to follow through. No excuses or rationalization. People look to you to get it done.

Overall the book was good. I like the concept and can relate to the fact that we naturally want to place all our emphasis on our weaknesses and that may not be the best answer always. However, I do believe that getting better at what you are not good at can be beneficial as well. So while I am not completely sold on the concept, I think it is a valuable reminder to hone what you are naturally good at and to be aware of what your strengths are. I think the key point of the book was summed up in a story originally told by Mark Twain. A man died and met Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. The man said, "Saint Peter, I have been interested in military history for many years. Who was the greatest general of all time?" Saint Peter responded,"Oh that's simple. It's the man right over there." The man responded "You must be mistaken, I knew that man on earth and he was just a common laborer." "That's right my friend," assured Saint Peter. "He would have been the greatest general of all time, IF he had been a general." The story illustrates that many people spend their whole lives going in a direction that doesn't utilize their greatest talents and potential. So be self aware and know what your strengths are, and act in a way that will take advantage of the talents you already possess.

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