Finding Your Strengths

By Patricia Fuller, PhD, Director of Wellness Engineering

What I Learned from Strengths Finder 2.0

Labor Day signals the end of summer and the beginning of fall. When I was a student, it was my favorite holiday because school started the next day. I loved the structure, the learning, the newness of everything—classes, books, clothes, supplies. Though Labor Day is no longer the trigger, I still get a lift from reading a book, attending a conference, or teaching a seminar. I am a learner. Learner is one of 34 strengths described in Strengths Finder 2.0, by Tom Rath. The bestseller is both an assessment and a reference. The assessment, available through a unique access code included with the book or online at, helps people identify their unique combination of strengths. The reference describes these strengths and gives suggestions for using them both personally and with others. Using one’s strengths increases wellbeing across all of its modifiable dimensions, but it is particularly evident in the workplace. The Gallup organization asked over 10 million individuals to agree or disagree with the statement: “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.”

Only one third strongly agreed with the statement, leaving 7 million others somewhere between “agree” and “strongly disagree.” Those who strongly agreed were six times more likely to be engaged at work and three times more likely to report an excellent quality of life in general. Gallup makes a strong case for using one’s strengths contributing significantly to all spheres of wellbeing. Luckily for me, I get to use my strengths every day. Learner is actually my second strength. My first is individualization. This strength makes me intuitive and keenly observant of people’s unique qualities. It is particularly helpful for one-on-one coaching. It also explains why it never occurred to me to tell my sons that they were twins. I realized my oversight on the way home from their first day of school when they asked me what twins were. Oops.

My third strength is I am strategic. This allows me to cut through clutter and identify patterns. Ask anyone at BKS-Partners about my love affair with clutter. If our office kitchen begins to amass a modest collection of unmatched Tupperware or if a document needs pruning, you can be certain I will be called upon. My fourth is maximizer. I am compelled to nurture, refine and stretch people to excellence. It is suggested I find a role where I help people succeed. I should coach, mentor or teach. Check, check and check. My fifth is relator. As a relator, I need a workplace were friendships are encouraged. I can be trusted with confidential information because I place a high value on trust and will not betray yours. As it happens, I have been friends with some of my colleagues for 20+ years. I am the keeper of many secrets and the trusted advisor of many long term friends and clients. My guess is that the part of your work that you enjoy the most uses a personal strength. Could you find a way to do more of it?

I have been accused of having a circuitous career path by more than one person. Apparently the French translator turned CPA turned Wellness Director route is not well-worn, but it was the right one for me. This became glaringly evident when I took the Strengths Finder Assessment. It appears that I have finally landed in the right place. I heartily endorse taking it and using it. 

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