362. My Five Strengths (Which I May Not Really Have)

I apparently have personal strengths. Who knew?

A couple of years ago, I took the Gallup StrengthsFinder test: a survey designed to help people identify their gifts. I was aware of my talents—winning Mario Kart races and drinking inordinate amounts of coffee, mostly—but was less certain of my natural strengths. What better way could there be for me to find them than taking an automated test designed by complete strangers?

The test results were… not encouraging.

In seriousness, the results seemed pretty accurate, but I responded with only a flicker of interest before stashing them in a folder on my laptop and forgetting them. They spent two years gathering digital dust before I recalled them a few days ago. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?

My top five personal strengths are apparently consistency, intellection, responsibility, connectedness, and strategic. What are they? Flipping heck, I don’t know. We should check the test results and take them one at a time.

Consistency

The test defines this as a sense of fairness that values people equally and strives for “a consistent environment where the rules are clear and are applied to everyone equally.”

This one is fairly accurate. I believe people—all people—are valuable. Few things anger me more than injustice and inequality. Rich people are no better than poor people. Men and women deserve equal respect, along with the folks whose gender is more complicated. People with mental or physical disabilities are just as valuable as ordinary people. Everyone deserves dignity, respect, and fair treatment.

In practical terms, this consistency makes it a little easier for me to accept and respect people. I may dislike you or disagree with your views, but I will try to love and tolerate the heck out of you.

Intellection

This is a fancy word for mental activity. “You are the kind of person who enjoys your time alone because it is your time for musing and reflection,” declare the test results. “You are introspective. In a sense you are your own best companion.” The results conclude, “This mental hum is one of the constants of your life.”

Of all the strengths ascribed to me by the test, this is by far the most accurate. I’m not quite sure how the test figured out what goes on inside my head, but the results are absolutely correct. Whether or not I like it, I’m always thinking. The phrase “mental hum” is perfect: my mind constantly hums with thoughts about this or that. I analyze, introspect, plan, ponder, and review.

Is this a strength? My hyperactive mind is often a nuisance, but whatevs. I suppose my mental hums fuels this blog, so that’s a plus.

Responsibility

The test makes this one sound like a pathological compulsion: “Your Responsibility theme forces you to take psychological ownership for anything you commit to, and whether large or small, you feel emotionally bound to follow it through to completion.”

This one is fairly true. If I make a commitment, I feel obligated to follow through with it, even if it takes a long time. When I fail to meet a deadline or expectation, I feel crushed by guilt and disappointment.

My obsessive sense of responsibility is generally a good thing. For the most part, it makes me a dependable person, albeit a neurotic one.

Connectedness

“Things happen for a reason,” declares the test. “You are sure of it. You are sure of it because in your soul you know that we are all connected. Yes, we are individuals, responsible for our own judgments and in possession of our own free will, but nonetheless we are part of something larger. Some may call it the collective unconscious. Others may label it spirit or life force. But whatever your word of choice, you gain confidence from knowing that we are not isolated from one another or from the earth and the life on it.”

Flipping heck, the test seems to think I’m some sort of pantheist. I don’t have any strong belief in mystical connections between events or people. As a Christian, I believe in a higher purpose for human beings, but that’s about as far as it goes. God works in mysterious ways. However, I’m skeptical of the vague, esoteric sense of connectedness described by the test.

I have read its explanation several times, but I’m not sure I understand this strength, let alone have it. The test might be mistaken on this one.

Strategic

All right, I have to get this off my chest: Strategic is an adjective, not a noun. The other strengths are all nouns; why isn’t this one? Anyway, it’s a way of thinking that excels at finding patterns and efficient solutions.

The test got this one right. I frequently weigh options in search of the optimal solution, eliminating possibilities until I reach the one that seems best. More often than not, my decisions are guided by logic. I seldom do things impulsively.

This strength is useful for planning, allowing me to work out efficient strategies for getting stuff done.

The Gallup StrengthsFinder test wasn’t infallible, but it did a surprisingly good job of assessing my strengths. At the very least, it didn’t call me a horrible person. (Of course, it wasn’t testing for that.) Now that I’ve reviewed its results, I’ll strive to use the gifts the test seems to think I have.

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