Know Your Strengths

know your strengths

“I believe surprises are great when they’re planned ahead of time.”

I laughed the other day when this statement popped up during my HIGH5 personality test.

I appreciate that “surprises” by definition are spontaneous and therefore not “planned ahead of time” … and yet, let me tell you about THE SPEED with which I dragged that little HIGH5 slider all the way to the far right / 100% / “strongly agree” side of the spectrum. I love a good plan, and do not relish the thought of too many actual surprises.

“I believe stories are the best way to get a point across.” Maybe the fact that I’ve led with an anecdote clued you in that again, I swiftly slid that marker all the way to the right.

HIGH5 is the free alternative to the StrengthsFinder and CliftonStrengths tests, and as the HIGH5 website explains, “taking a simple personality test can be a quick and efficient way to boost confidence [and] understand your strengths… Personality tests [can] change your worldview, change the outcome of your career, and so much more.” Millions of people have used these tools to learn more about their natural strengths, and the former career advisor in me just loves talking about this kind of assessment. It’s important to take time regularly to be introspective and to consider what you like and don’t like, and to evaluate how your personal and professional choices allow you to leverage your talents. Ask yourself often: where am I excelling? How else can I shine?

The basic premise of strengths tests is fundamentally positive: it’s easier to improve and showcase your natural talents than it is to attempt to “fix” or overcome areas where you tend to struggle. The great thing is that we all have different strengths, and dynamic teams will be comprised of people with diverse skills who can make complementary contributions.

I laughed at the statement about “surprises” (and all statements related to spontaneity, actually) because I immediately realized that one of my awesome colleagues would answer in the exact opposite way, thank goodness. That’s a fantastic thing! This kept happening as I moved through the inventory, too. I thought about colleagues I knew would have strong feelings about statements where I felt ambiguous, and I was sincerely grateful that it was clear: even on our small research team, my teammates will approach assignments and challenges in unique ways, bringing their own skills to the work.

My own results this time were not a surprise. My top-five strengths are coach, empathizer, storyteller, catalyst, and strategist. I’m really eager to learn more about the team’s strengths and to have a conversation about how they complement one another.

How about you? Have you ever taken a strengths inventory before? What were your strengths, and did any of them surprise you? Did you compare your results with a team? Obviously, I’d love to hear all about it! Feel free to message me on LinkedIn or shoot me an email:

Mylene Kerschner, Research and Consulting Manager