When I was a freshman in college, we had to take this thing called “Clifton Strengths Finder.” Maybe you have heard of it; it is a quiz meant to tell you your top strengths (go figure). It is backed up by the theory that everyone has his or her own individual set of strengths, or “personal themes,” which combine and affect how well individuals are able to develop certain skills easier than others.
Often as people we spend a lot of time focusing on our weaknesses. But that’s not the point of Strengths Finders.
The results from the quiz tell you your top five strengths. There is a total of thirty-four strengths. (You can read about all of them here.) Your results rank from your highest strength down, so your number one result is your highest strength. It is all pretty simple to understand.
I do not always have the best memory, so I would often have to look back at an email to remember what my top strengths are. (I know, I know. How hard is it to remember five things?) All the same, I thought I had a pretty good idea of my top strengths.
For example, adaptability is one of the thirty-four strengths. It is defined as “one who is especially adept at accommodating to changes in direction/plan.”
That is totally me, I would always tell myself when hearing about the strengths.
So, whenever anything would happen that would shake things up and force me into different situations, I would always respond the same, “That’s okay. Adaptability is one of my top strengths.” I knew I could handle situations where I wasn’t comfortable because I was adaptable. It was one of my top strengths, for crying out loud.
I moved from North Dakota to Kansas to go to college, but I have been doing well because I am adaptable, of course. I was able to live with people I didn’t know all that well over the summer because adaptability is one of my top strengths. I came back to the office after the summer only to notice that I’d been moved from my beautiful cubicle to a small little desk (known as a “garage”—yes, I’m serious). My response? “That’s okay. Adaptability is one of my top strengths.”
I was looking through my emails to discover the email with the list of my top strengths. They are, as follows:
Yes, you are reading that correctly.
Adaptability is not one of my top strengths.
As it turns out, adaptability has never been one of my top strengths.
I have taken the test twice and neither time did I ever get adaptability as a top strength! I took the test once my freshman year and again my sophomore and my bottom two strengths changed. Instead of being an includer and having responsibility, instead I was an achiever and a relator. Still. Never adaptability.
Adaptability is not one of my top strengths. Now, it’s not to say that it might not be strength number eight or nine, but it’s not the top five.
Here’s the funny thing: in constantly saying that adaptability is one of my top strengths, I have almost embraced it as part of my identity. It’s all about mind over matter, or something like that. So now I feel adaptable, even though it is not technically one of my top strengths, but maybe I should stop saying that it is one of my top strengths because apparently I have been lying this whole time.