Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham is an interactive, self-help style book that uses the Clifton StrengthsFinder test to help you identify your personal strengths and then apply this newfound information to your career.
The first section of the book introduces a philosophy that is both simple and radical: instead of focusing on improving our weaknesses, which is where the bulk of career development energy is so often spent, we should instead identify our natural talents and develop those into strengths to truly excel. Of course, to develop our strengths we first need to identify them, which is where the next part of the book comes in. You’ll be prompted to visit the Clifton StrengthsFinder website and use a unique code provided at the end of the book to log in and complete an assessment, which takes approximately 30 minutes. After taking the assessment, you’ll receive a customized report which lists your top five signature themes, which you can then read about in depth in the next section of the book. The remainder of the book is devoted to how to apply this information to your career, both in how you conduct yourself and how you manage and relate to others.
I found the Clifton StrengthsFinder test to be relatively easy to take, and the resulting five strengths it identified in me are pretty accurate. I was actually curious to find out what my next five strengths were, but to get a more in-depth report, you have to pay a substantial additional fee, so unfortunately they’ll have to remain a mystery. Where the book lost me is in the second half, which got a bit tedious and mildly dated in its suggestions for utilizing your strengths in your career (the book was first published in 2001). In any case, the idea of developing one’s strengths rather than fixing one’s weaknesses really resonates with me, and the test was an interesting exercise in learning more about myself.
Now, Discover Your Strengths can make for a very interesting pro book club discussion, especially if your group’s members are comfortable sharing their personal strengths. When my book club read it, we were fortunate enough to have a discussion leader who took the time to synthesize everyone’s strengths into some very cool and informative charts, showing how many people came up with each theme. Even without visual aids, though, it’s a worthwhile concept to discuss.
Following are links to discussion questions and supplemental material for a pro book club discussion of this book.
Unfortunately, there is no official reading guide for Now, Discover Your Strengths. Instead, I recommend using my Discussion Questions Resources as a starting point for crafting your own questions for the book.
- Watch author Marcus Buckingham talk about putting your strengths to work
- “Develop Leadership Strengths By Building Around Them” — Forbes, 8/21/13
- “Making Strengths-Based Development Work” — Gallup, 8/4/11
- If personality tests interest you, here are some additional free ones to check out:
- Jung Typology Test – A short, free online version of the famous Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test
- The Quiet Quiz from Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – A short test to determine if you’re an introvert or an extrovert
- Wonderlic Test – A free, abbreviated version of the IQ test used to measure professional football players’ aptitude for learning and problem solving