Maximize Your Strengths

By: Ashley

You get your top 5 strengths back and one of them is Maximizer and you might be wondering what does maximizer mean? Well that is what I am here to tell you, also as a side note this is the last strength to be blogged about! Can you believe it that all of the strengths have been done? So even if maximizer isn’t one of your top 5 go ahead and browse on through the other wonderful posts by all the bloggers and read about the strengths that are yours!

So on to the strength itself.  The StrengthsQuest website defines maximizers as “people who are especially talented in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.” So essentially you’re given a task or seek a task out and you take action to not only do the task but you do a fantastic job at it!  When you aim high you shoot for the moon, anything less wouldn’t be worth it.

Maximizer

A few suggestions to develop maximizer further would be:

  • Seek to help others discover their own potential, mentoring might be a great idea, I am willing to bet you will love it
  • Use your talents for things outside of your academic life, maybe get involved with the community
  • Spend time with people whose talents you admire

Academically:

  • Discover the way you learn best whether you’re a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner and use it to your advantage
  • Find where you study best, where you feel most comfy
  • Meet with mentors for advice and inspiration and share it with your friends, share the wealth
  • Pick classes that help you fine tune your current strengths and classes that help you develop new ones
  • Find a job or internship where you can use your maximizer strength and apply your talents, somewhere where people will recognize your abilities

Career:

  • Talk to your mentors about their career planning process, their advice will be much appreciated
  • To avoid frustration pick a workplace with a good reputation, places known for being the best will be places where your talents will shine the brightest
  • Find a job where you can help others realize their own strengths and help them develop and use them to their advantage
  • Interview “the best of the best” and see what they like about their job, how they got there, and what it takes to get there, their bits of wisdom will give you an idea of what it requires to be the best of the best

I guess in my opinion some great career options for maximizers would be coaching, management, mentoring, or teaching.  These are of course just the ones that stick out to me right now, to further explore where your ideal career path lies I would suggest making a pit stop at our office (SCC 22) and make an appointment to talk with a counselor. Maybe even take one of our other assessments, each one complements the other and are full of invaluable information.  I think most maximizers would agree with Steve Prefontaine in the belief that “To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.”

Check out our Strengths board on Pinterest

Read Ashley’s other posts

Strength in Being Deliberative

By: Ashley

This week I am going to talk about the StrengthsQuest strength Deliberative. When I retook this assessment it came up as one of my top 5, but it wasn’t one of my initial top 5, showing that over time we all change. On the StrengthsQuest website it says that “People who are especially talented in the Deliberative theme are best described by the serious care they take in making decisions or choices. They anticipate the obstacles.” I suppose you would say we deliberative types take time to evaluate our options, assess the risks, decide how to take action and then follow through. The website gives a plethora of information evaluating this specific strength, it gives advice on careers, academics, study techniques, and much more.

Deliberative

Deliberative types can be defined by how we tend to keep our personal life private and are usually selective about what we tell and to whom we tell it. We prefer to think things through before speaking or taking action. We have a tendency to remain silent rather than join conversations that involve the sharing of intimate or personal information. Chances are we are willing to sacrifice affection or relationships to be true to ourselves. My favorite quote from the website is that people with deliberative as one of their strengths believe that “life is not a popularity contest.” Driven by our talents, we are often described as no-nonsense people.

Using your Deliberative strength in your career

The StrengthsQuest website says that environments where we can independently conduct thorough analysis are likely to help us be most effective and will be more enjoyable for us. It states that helping others to think through their decisions before moving ahead too quickly is something that we are good at. We tend to be private people, so environments where people are known for being discreet and trustworthy will likely bring out our best. Environments that expect a lot of socializing, interpersonal interaction, demand persuasion or selling, will not be as comfortable for us. So wanting to be a salesperson or a politician might not be right up our alley. The site says that we should explore careers in the areas of analysts, financial officers, judges, and others whose work benefits from careful thinking and deliberation. I feel like lab work and research would be a good place for deliberative types as well.

Using your Deliberative strength in your academics

The site says in our academics we tend to do the following, or should do the following to make the most of our academic career:

  • Attend all lectures and class sessions making sure we don’t miss anything.
  • Be thorough in our preparation for a class by reading ahead and reviewing class notes to avoid being caught off guard.
  • Before visiting a professor during office hours, prepare thoroughly by making a list of questions we have.
  • Once we receive a class syllabus, highlight the due dates of readings, assignments, papers, and tests.
  • When taking a test, go through the questions slowly, concentrating on the ones we are more sure of first.

Some studying techniques that are said to be effective for deliberative types are to take notes on what you read, and study your notes for exams and to always work out extra problems to make sure you understand the material. If you work best alone, study on your own before engaging in group discussions. Form questions as you study, and make sure you have answers to them before taking an exam.

It was William Somerset Maugham who said, “In the conduct of life we make use of deliberation to justify ourselves in doing what we want to do.” I guess the way I would translate this bit of wisdom is we use deliberation in our everyday lives to get to know ourselves, as well as others, and through careful consideration, observations, and experiments (such as classes, and jobs) we get to know ourselves and what we want to get out of life. We figure out what we want to do with our lives, we figure out how to do it, and we go for it! To see if deliberative is one of your top 5 strengths, stop on in to Career and Internship Services (SCC 22) and get a code to take this awesome assessment for yourself!

Read Ashley’s other posts

Read other StrengthsQuest posts

What is Woo?

By: Glen

Have you ever met a person who seems to know everyone? A person who, despite the many demands of life, always has time to talk to people? Does this describe you? These traits are the Woo in a person. The first sentence in the description of Woo in StrengthsQuest states, “Woo stands for winning people over.”

“That sounds like a politician,” is a common response to this description. Well, yes, in a way, that is a valid point. Woo is definitely a skill that politicians can find valuable. Let’s back up a few steps. Woo is not just politics. It is a life skill that can be a difference maker in your career life.

Why Woo?

If we are to take an objective standpoint while we look at the job market, one reality must be faced. The world is not an equal opportunity provider. When an employer says they are an equal opportunity provider, the employer is making a statement that has a legal definition. To be succinct, life is not fair to everyone. Luckily, there are methods one can use to stand out above the crowd, and have better chances for success. This is where Woo comes in handy.

“It is all about who you know.” This is a statement that is repeated throughout the Theatre Department at the University of Minnesota Duluth. I can attest to the truth of that statement. Thus far, I have been involved in two productions as a stage manager in the department. Both positions were handed to me, because I was good friends with people holding higher positions. I did not apply. There was no interview. I had no special skills.

Will you Woo?

The real world may not be as exaggerated as the theatre world, but it makes for a good example. Networking with people is important for any career. Making yourself known by people as a genuine person can create a willingness to help you. From a logical standpoint, more connections means more chances that someone can help you in some way. It is a brilliantly simple way to create opportunity. Life is a fickle thing; you never know when it will take you to wonderful new horizons. With Woo, you can increase the odds that opportunity will come you way.

So, will you Woo?

Check out Abby’s take on having WOO in her Top 5.

Other blog posts about networking.

Being Consistent

By: Hayley

When I took the StrengthsQuest assessment last year and Consistency popped up as one of my top five strengths I was a little confused. The word alone didn’t seem to fit in with the other strengths like achiever or intellection. So I read the definition of the strength:

“People who are especially talented in the Consistency theme are keenly aware of the need to treat people the same. They try to treat everyone in the world with consistency by setting up clear rules and adhering to them.“

That is not what I was expecting the consistency strength to be defined as at all. I had assumed it would be about routine and structure. I have never related the term ‘consistency’ to treating people the same or having clear rules but as I read the more in-depth description of the strength it made sense.

Consistency

The StrengthsQuest website says that consistent people tend to be bold and straightforward when confronting the opinions of others and when giving their own opinion they tend to describe them in an impartial manner. They can easily see when someone’s views or opinions are having an impact on the way they describe an event or give a presentation. They like to praise people for their accomplishments. They are comfortable initiating debates and they ensure that everyone follows the rules of the debate and respects the opinions of others. The website also states that balance is important to consistent people and that they function best in an environment that is predictable; one that has rules that everyone must adhere to. Overall consistent people like to be fair to everyone and they are upset when things are not fair.

If consistency is one of your top five strengths there are several ways that you can use it in your daily life or in your career.

  • Be aware of the rules that govern your life. Know what they are and be comfortable with them. Consistent people are not rule breakers so being ok with the rules might not matter to you because even if you weren’t ok with them you would still abide by them but knowing what they are will give a better idea of your limits.
  • If someone you work with is doing a good job or has been working really hard on a project acknowledge it. Consistent people strive to give credit where credit is due and simply acknowledging what they did will play into your strength and if you acknowledge someone on a job well done at work you are contributing to a good work environment.
  • Look for jobs where you can enforce rules. Since consistent people like rules so much it makes sense that you might enjoy a job where you can make sure others obey the rules as much as you do.
  • Identify people who have strengths somewhat opposite to your own, like Maximizers.  Consistent people tend not to notice the difference in people because they strive to treat everyone the same but there are cases where it is important to accommodate for the needs of others and those maximizers can help you see those types of differences.

After reading all of this info I have found that the Consistency strength does fit me well and if it came up as one of your strengths I am sure there are at least a few parts that you see in yourself too. Whether it is abiding by the rules, evenly dividing tasks on a group project and calling out anyone who doesn’t pull their own weight, or needing structure in your work environment. Just like with any other strength there are most likely parts of it that don’t fit you and others that do but overall Consistency is a great strength to have.

Read Hayley’s other posts

Be an Arranger

By: Ashley

Hello fellow blog followers! It’s great to be back and into the full swing of things. So for my first post of the semester I have chosen to talk about one of the strengths that we weren’t able to get to last semester, so if you have Arranger as one of your top 5 strengths and was like “No fair, mine wasn’t listed,” do not fret, I am here to shed some light on this most interesting strength.

Arranger

On the StrengthsQuest website it says that “People who are especially talented in the Arranger theme can organize, but they also have a flexibility that complements this ability. They like to figure out how all of the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity.” So, basically, you like getting things done, efficiently and in an effective manor, but are unafraid to switch up your routine if it is more successful in producing your desired results.

It is also said that people with Arranger as a top theme are able to take a complex situation with many challenges and accomplish their goals in a productive way. To put it simply, Arrangers like to get stuff done, and like to do it right. My favorite quote from StrengthsQuest site about Arrangers is the saying “You are a shining example of effective flexibility.” In other words, you are very good at producing desired results and are willing to change the way you do things to keep the process as efficient as possible. You are not afraid to jump into challenging and often confusing situations because of your flexibility, ability to multitask, and willingness to look for new ways of doing things.

Arrangers also have the ability to orchestrate people and resources for maximum effectiveness. So I would peg Arrangers as being leaders, people who can direct others but seem approachable and less intimidating because of their flexibility. You would be happiest when you are part of good team of people, who get the project done, your organizational and arrangement skills help keep your project flowing towards your end goal. It might help you to challenge yourself by finding ways to make these arrangements more efficient, because even the best systems can be improved. One great way to challenge yourself is to organize a huge event because the large-scale effort will make your Arranger skills shine even brighter and help you hone this strength.

Some careers that would engage your Arranger strength and build off it are positions that allow you the freedom and flexibility to work with others while also being able to plan events. Some careers such as event planners, travel agents, city managers, case workers, and supervisors are just some of the careers that Arrangers would flourish in.

I guess the best advice for people with Arranger as a top strength would be to maintain that flexibility that Arrangers are famous for and explore all possible career paths after all even the most well laid plan can be strengthened and improved.

Read Ashley’s other posts

Read the other StrengthsQuest posts

5 Characteristics of a Strength

By: Chris

I have a hard time figuring out what I want to do whether it’s finding a sport to play, what kind of a summer job I’m going to look for and, the biggest one, what career do I want to pursue. If you’re like me, then I’d suggest you read this book, “Soar With Your Strengths” by Donald O. Clifton and Paula Nelson. If you didn’t know, Clifton is the creator of the StrengthsQuest assessment that our office uses to determine a person’s strengths and where and how to apply them. Now let’s see how one can find and identify their strengths.

5 Characteristics of a strength

One: Listen for Yearnings

What’s pulling you? What’s tugging on your brain saying “Hey try me!” This is the first clue to finding a strength. Things that interest you after reading about it or seeing others doing it are something to look for. If you can see yourself doing it as well, give it a try. You have to be careful though, make sure what’s pulling you isn’t a misleading yearn. Make sure the reason why you want to pursue something isn’t for a false reason such as, wanting to become a manager for the power and not because you want to be a leader, or running a restaurant wanting to make money and not serve and satisfy customers. These false reasons will lead to you having a short spurt of motivation to do something but once you realize it’ll take more work, you’ll soon drop it.

Two: Watch for Satisfactions

Are you satisfied when you’ve done a good job at something? Or are you just glad it’s over and you never look back? Most people who love their job are satisfied with the end results of something they worked hard to achieve. The feeling of satisfaction after completion is something you want because it’ll give you a hunger for more. In a way you want what you do to become addictive in a way. You love it and you can’t wait to finish. Finding out if it isn’t what you want to do is almost as easy. If you spend countless hours on a science project and with the result you never want to look at it again, maybe science isn’t a strength of yours. “If it doesn’t feel good, you are not practicing a strength,” (Clifton).

Three: Watch for Rapid Learning

How quickly do you pick something up? If you tend to pick up a skill pretty fast, maybe it’s a strength. Assess what you’ve done in the past and see what are some of the things you do that you can do without really trying. Whether it be learning a new sport, writing software programs, being able to write a short story or learning a new song on an instrument. Then, you need to figure out if you’re a competent learner, where you learn from reading text books or watching, or a natural learner where you just jump right in and learn as you go. Distinguishing those two styles are important because do employers want a professional who can talk about it, or a professional who can go out and make it happen? If something happens to be something you aren’t picking up rather quickly, no matter how many times you try you just can’t comprehend the information, it might not be that you aren’t smart, it may be that what you’re trying to learn and do is a non-strength.

Four: Glimpse of Excellence

Watch for things where you may stand out. A great example would be sports. When a basketball player scores a triple double in a playoff game, that’s a sign of a strength. What do people notice about you or praise you in when you’ve done something? Are there moments when you outshine other students or co-workers? If what you do causes positive attention, start building on that strength and work to master that strength. At times many people may use negative comments as fuel to become better at a non-strengths and still fail in the end. Work harder on what your praised of doing and don’t put so much focus on what needs improving.

Five: Total Performance of Excellence

When you do something amazing, ask yourself if it seems as amazing to you as to other people. When a track star is behind does he have to think about how much faster he has to run, or does he just run faster? This may be the biggest sign of finding your strength due the fact that others see what you do, as compelling. A sign of total performance is the amount of improvement over time. Even when you’re great, all you want to do is improve because there is always room for improvement in a strength.

Use these five characteristics of a strength to find what your strengths are. The most important part is to focus and work hard at your strengths instead of always putting all that effort into your weaknesses. Spending time on improving something to become average may not always be in your best interest and that time could be spend on improving something to become great. I would highly recommend this book to those of you who are confused at what you are good at and this book will help you reevaluate those things.

We’ve been profiling different strengths all year. Check out the StrengthsQuest category to find out how you can use your strengths for career planning.

Read Chris’s other posts

Belief as a Strength

By: Annie

Belief, according to StrengthsFinder, attributes this strength to “people who are especially talented in the Belief theme have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their life.” Belief is not in my top five strengths, however, it is in my roommate’s top five. When I asked her what it meant to her, she said it means she looks for work that aligns with her values before the amount of money she could earn. These values do not necessarily mean religious values. She also told me this strength makes it easy for her to disagree with those who do not share her values.

Belief

My roommate’s description of how this strength is noticeable in her life is similar to the people who are quoted in the book StrengthsFinder 2.0. One example describes a man who does a lot of work with the Boy Scouts because he finds value in the future. Another lady accepts a lower salary, compared to others in similar positions, because she values the work she does. And lastly, a lady working in a stressful position finds motivation from her belief in the importance of her work.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 provides a list of this strength in action:

  • To better define your core values, think about a good day and ask yourself what values were apparent that day? Then consider how you can structure your life to have more days that include these values.
  • Look for positions or organizations you can join that define themselves by what they give back to society.
  • Consider how the meaning or purpose of your work can help others find meaning or purpose in their own work.
  • Write a “purpose statement” for your life and share it with your friends and family. The emotional appeal of this can inspire them.
  • Save letters, pictures, or other mementos that remind you of the difference you make in the work that you do. On a bad day, these can be powerful reminders of the importance in the work you do.
  • Do not spend every moment working. Make time for your personal life and your own needs as well.

Here are a couple of ideas of how to use Belief in career planning (from the StrengthsQuest book):

  • Spend time think about your “calling.” Once you have articulated this mission, learn about careers that can help you fulfill it.
  • Environments that are a good fit with your own mission and beliefs will bring out your best. Seek employment in companies and organizations that exhibit a strong sense of mission – that is, a commitment to positively affecting the quality of people’s lives.
  • Environments that are people-oriented, that provide service to others, or that reward personal growth are likely to allow your Belief talents to flourish.
  • Workplaces that respect your commitment to your family and allow for balance between work and family demands will enable you to thrive.

For more examples of Belief in action, read the section in StrengthsFinder 2.0 or log into strengthsquest.com.

Quick note: StrengthsFinder and StrengthsQuest are actually the same assessment. Where they differ is the resources available to the assessment taker. StrengthsFinder has resources aimed at individuals working in Corporate America type of companies while StrengthsQuest has resources aimed at college students. You can take StrengthsQuest, for $15, at the Career & Internship Services office in SCC 22.

Read Annie’s other posts

Read other StrenthsQuest posts