I was introduced to Gallup’s StrengthsFinder in 2004. At the time didn’t think much of it, except that it was just another personality test. Nearly eight years would pass before I would revisit this. Once I did take the time to understand more about this motivational tool it changed my whole perspective on things; the way I view myself, the way I relate to others and most importantly the way I approach God.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with Strengths, allow me to give you a brief rundown.

What it is?

StrengthsFinder is an online assessment that pinpoints a person’s five most dominant talents from a list of 35 traits which research has shown are common among all types of people from every different age, race, socioeconomic and generational group. Each of these talents carries with it an action item that aids both personal and professional development. The entire purpose of StrenghtsFinder is not only to supply you with a better knowledge of yourself, but in addition gives you the tools to turn your talents into strengths.

What it isn’t?

StrengthsQuest is not simply another personality test, not if it is implemented correctly anyway. While it does measure a person’s typical characteristics, it allows its participants to actively engage in exercises that will help in their overall growth.

How to use Strengths for ones self

Knowledge of my own strengths has obviously impacted me, but before I delve any deeper into this it is important I first explain my top five. These are the talents that StrengthsFinder has found to be the five areas where I hold the most potential in order of it’s….

Achiever – I take great pride and satisfaction from working hard and being productive.

Focused – I can choose a direction or goal and follow it through to the end.

Learner – I have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve which is probably why I am so intrigued with Strengths.

Command – I have presence (or so I’m told). I can easily take control of a situation and make decisions.

Significance – I am independent (just ask my parents) and want my accomplishments to be valued.

StrengthsFinder has given me tools that I lacked before. It has allowed me to become less critical of myself. There is power in knowing who you are, and who you’re not. I know the areas in which I am already talented. This knowledge allows me to particularly tap into those talents. I am blessed with a natural skill in that area, so why not maximize it?

On the opposite hand, I am able to rest in the fact that there are just some things I am not as good at. That is not to say I couldn’t grow in any given area or another, but simply recognizes my weaknesses. The upside of this is that because I am aware of my talents, I can leverage these to grow in other areas.

How to apply Strengths with others

By understanding where other people’s talent lie I am able to better relate to them. Rather than working against another’s Strengths or trying to mold them into someone they aren’t I am able to more clearly see them for who they are. I am able to team up alongside them, allowing them the opportunity to tap into their own potential, while I can focus on what I can do well.

Take for example Pat’s top five:

Empathy – People with Empathy can easily sense the feelings of other people and relate to them in that experience.

Strategic – People who are especially talented in this theme create alternative ways to proceed when obstacles arise.

Ideation – People with talent in this area are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.

Connectedness – Those with talent in this theme have faith in the links between all things. There are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.

Communication – Those with a talent in communication find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.

Insight into this aspect of him has helped me to appreciate that not everyone is like me. I know that sounds so simple and elementary, but honestly take a moment to think about how many times in the last 24 hours you’ve been annoyed that someone close to you has handled a situation in a slightly different way than you would have.

Anyone living in close quarters can attest that this happens all the time. We ruffle each other’s feathers. Knowledge of another person’s Strengths helps me to recognize the positive aspects of personality quirks that would be otherwise annoying to me. It ultimately helps me love others better, allowing them opportunities to apply their strengths in any given situation.

Our relationship with God

Last but not least, knowledge of my own Strengths has shaped the way I approach God. This knowledge of myself has helped me to better know my Creator; who He is and what He is about. He is the One who has given me these talents, and He is the perfection of my talents.

In addition to this, an awareness of my talents has helped me pinpoint spiritual capabilities as well as my temptations. I am able to concretely grasp significant points of my personality and bring these traits before the Lord, allowing Him to work with me through them.


Here is my crash course in understanding your Strengths. I recently presented this to the Gregorian Fellows at Benedictine College.

Leading With Your Strengths – Crash Course in Gallup StrengthsFinder


Want to learn more?

Check out the following books: StrengthsFinder 2.0, Strengths Based Leadership, Living Your Strengths