I Took StrengthsQuest Twice

I Took StrengthsQuest Twice Featured Image

Earlier this semester, I got a chance to take StrengthsQuest a second time. After five years, I was able to reevaluate my strengths, and the results were pretty surprising.

After taking StrengthsQuest twice, I only kept one strength. Meanwhile, all the remaining strengths shifted out of my top five. In addition, I dropped a relationship building strength and picked up an influencing strength. Now, my strengths are teaching focused rather than coding focused.

Table of Contents

Backstory

In late 2014, I was in my first semester of my junior year of undergrad, and I decided to do join my local community council. At the time, I was a part of the Upper Class Community Council for the Residence Hall Association (RHA) at Case Western Reserve University.

During my first semester, I was offered a free code to complete StrengthsQuest, a tool which assesses your strengths. Back then, I thought it was sort of gimmicky. After all, I’ve never been a fan of labels, and personality quizzes can sometimes feel like a horoscope. In other words, the language is so broad that literally anyone match their perspective to it.

That said, I took the quiz—which has 177 questions—and I found out my strengths:

  • Restorative
  • Strategic
  • Developer
  • Adaptability
  • Learner

Back then, I felt my strengths really complimented where I wanted to be in life. However, those strengths have changed quite a bit, and that’s the point of this article.

If these strengths look familiar to you, that’s because I wrote about them previously in the My Ideal Job article. As a result, I won’t dig into them in as much detail, but I will still share my thoughts on my previous strengths below. In addition, I’ll outline my new strengths, why I think they’ve change, and what the literature says about this change. If you’re interested, you can check out my complete insight report.

Previous Strengths

Five years ago, I took the StrengthsQuest quiz and got the following top 5 strengths.

  • Restorative (Executing)
  • Strategic (Strategic Thinking)
  • Developer (Relationship Building)
  • Adaptability (Relationship Building)
  • Learner (Strategic Thinking)

In the following subsections, I’ll share more about what those strengths mean and why I think they made sense.

Restorative

People exceptionally talented in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems. They are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.

CliftonStrengths

Honestly, this strength probably comes as no surprise. After all, solving problems is what coders do all the time. At that point in my life, I was ready to code for a living. Unfortunately, I don’t stand by that anymore.

Strategic

People exceptionally talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

CliftonStrengths

Again, I think I identify with strategic quite a bit. In particular, I’m always imagining “what if” scenarios which help me deal with opportunities as they arise. Overall, I wouldn’t say I’m a huge planner, but I’m pretty good at anticipating issues and working around them.

Developer

People exceptionally talented in the Developer theme recognize and cultivate the potential in others. They spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from evidence of progress.

CliftonStrengths

If you know me, this strength probably comes as no surprise. After all, I always get invested in the happiness and success of others—especially close relationships. Now, I think this strength manifests itself in teaching, but it’s something I leverage all the time.

Adaptability

People exceptionally talented in the Adaptability theme prefer to go with the flow. They tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.

CliftonStrengths

If you were to ask me whether or not I thought I was adaptable a few years ago, I would have said yes without a doubt. Back then, I was studying abroad and getting ready for whatever life threw at me. Now, I’m a little more locked into my values, so I have a particular vision for my future. That said, I’m still more flexible than most people.

Learner

People exceptionally talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. The process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.

CliftonStrengths

For a long time, I loved to learn. In fact, I didn’t really care what I was learning about. Today, I can’t really say the same. While I still love learning, I’m often more motivated to learn when the subject interests me. Otherwise, I check out.

New Strengths

Recently, I took the StrengthsQuest quiz again for a teaching course I was taking. Obviously, I could have reused my strengths, but I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if I took the quiz once more.

Naturally, when I received my results, I found out that my top 5 strengths were different—like completely different:

  • Strategic (Strategic Thinking)
  • Includer (Relationship Building)
  • Achiever (Executing)
  • Communication (Influencing)
  • Ideation (Strategic Thinking)

Besides Strategic moving from two to one, I don’t see a single strength that held on. Clearly, this seemed out of line with what a lot of the StrengthsQuest folks preach: your strengths are more or less fixed.

When I brought this up with the facilitator, they actually mentioned that they had redone their quiz and had similar results. Somehow, they managed to rationalize it by saying that my previous strengths were probably still in my top 10. Apparently, there’s some research that shows that most folks top 10 stay the same. Of course, you have to pay extra to actually prove that.

At any rate, I found an interesting blog which outlines some of the reasons why my strengths may have changed. Of course, I’ll be outlining my own hypothesis in the sections below. If you’re interested, you can check out my complete insight report.

Strategic

People exceptionally talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

CliftonStrengths

Of all my strengths, Strategic is the only one that stuck around. Not only did it stay, but it moved up from two to one. In other words, I can confidently say that strategy is part of who I am.

Over the last couple years, I think strategy played a huge role in my life. For instance, I had to plan around quitting my job, getting into grad school, getting married, moving, choosing a plan of study, and even changing degree programs. Hell, I even got TEFL certified on the off chance that I didn’t get into grad school.

Now, I see strategy playing out in the way that I handle regular transitions. What if I don’t pass my qualifying exam? What if I don’t get accepted to the new department? What if I lose funding? These are all scenarios that I’ve anticipated as I’ve navigated just the past couple months.

Includer

People exceptionally talented in the Includer theme accept others. They show awareness of those who feel left out and make an effort to include them.

CliftonStrengths

If you look back on my strengths, Includer is probably most closely related to Developer. However, instead of trying to improve others, I’m now more focused on making sure others feel welcome and a part of the group.

Honestly, I think this shift is thanks to the Golden Rule: treat others how you want to be treated. Over the past few years, I’ve felt really isolated and disconnected, and all I’ve wanted is to feel included. As a result, I’m less interested in developing individuals and more interested in creating a positive environment for everyone. Perhaps if I find somewhere more welcoming, I’ll slip back into that developer role.

Achiever

People exceptionally talented in the Achiever theme work hard and possess a great deal of stamina. They take immense satisfaction in being busy and productive.

CliftonStrengths

I’m not sure this one needs to be explained. After all, I’m in a PhD program, and I somehow maintain this blog, a YouTube channel, several GitHub projects, and Patreon. That said, I do feel like I identify with achiever even more than in the past. Why else would I put myself through all this work? I have to succeed.

Out of all my previous strengths, I think the one this one most closely identifies with is Restorative. Now, however, I’m more of a creator than a fixer.

Communication

People exceptionally talented in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.

CliftonStrengths

If you check out all my strengths, you’ll notice that Communication is my first strength from the Influencing category. Of course, I think it makes a lot of sense. Previously, I was planning to go into code and work a modest life. Now, I learn and adapt every day, so I can teach better.

In other words, I’ve converted two of my previous strengths, Learner and Adaptability, into my current passion which is teaching. Now, I communicate a lot of what I learn through various mediums: blogs, YouTube videos, lectures, labs, etc. To do that, I’ve had to improve my communication skills, so it doesn’t surprise me that it’s become a strength.

Ideation

People exceptionally talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.

CliftonStrengths

Finally, I picked up the Ideation strength. Of all my strengths, I think this one is the most nebulous. After all, of course I love ideas! I don’t think that really translates into anything useful—unless I can act on it.

As a result, I turned to Gallup for some inspiration. According to their website, I “bore quickly” which is absolutely true. Their solution was to play mental games with myself to keep things interesting, and that’s something I’ve done forever.

In fact, I often get bored of video games, so I like to invent metagames to keep things interesting. For instance, I currently have my friend, Robert, select my hero for me in Overwatch. In the past, I used to play a lot of zombies in Call of Duty, and I always liked to make up rules like “you can only get a new gun when you run out of ammo.”

That said, I haven’t found many ways to keep my day-to-day interesting. Usually, I just change what I’m working on, but maybe there are better ways to flex this strength for my own enjoyment.

Hypothesis

After looking at both my previous and current strengths, I started to wonder what could possibly have caused the change. Then, I got to thinking about the context of when I took these quizzes.

When I first took the quiz, I was a junior in undergrad, and I had recently gotten heavily involved in RHA. In that semester, I went to my first conference, and I was considering getting quite a bit more involved.

At the same time, I was also deep into a Computer Engineering degree, and I had recently decided that hardware was not for me. Meanwhile, I grew interested in game design. In addition, I also received my first internship, so I was feeling really great about my life at that point.

Five years later, I abandoned that previous dream for greener pastures. Now, I’m more interested in working for myself. In the meantime, however, I’ve picked up a passion for teaching and creating learning resources.

In addition to changes in career aspirations, I’ve also gone through a lot. Since then, I’ve moved three times, traveled abroad twice, lived alone for a year, gotten married, changed my name, started two websites, created a YouTube channel, enrolled in grad school, and done many more things I can’t even remember off the top of my head.

As a result, my strengths have changed drastically to accommodate for a lot of major changes in my life. That said, I’ve had to lean on one strength, Strategic, to get where I want to go.

Reflection

Overall, I’m still not a huge fan of these sort of personality tests, but I do find the results gratifying. After all, who doesn’t like hearing about what they’re good at? Likewise, I enjoy having terminology around my tendencies—even if it’s all through self-assessment. Perhaps I’d be more inclined to use this knowledge about my strengths if someone could affirm them.

With all that said, I think I’d find StrengthsQuest more useful as a tool for teams. In other words, I’d love to know some of my peers strengths, so I can leverage them effectively in projects. After all, I already know what I like to do and what I’m good at. It’s not always obvious with other people.

That said, let me know what you think. Have you taken StrengthsQuest before? Have you tried taking it more than once? What were your results? What did you enjoy about it? What didn’t you like about it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

If you’re looking for a place to start, I recommend some of these books from Amazon:

While you’re here, I’d love it if you hopped on my mailing list, so we can stay in touch. Otherwise, you’re welcome to join me on Patreon. Finally, I have a few more articles just for you:

Otherwise, that’s all I have! Thanks, and see you next time.

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