Book Review: Now, Discover Your Strengths

Now, Discover Your Strengths – Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton

Buckingham and Clifton’s first book in their now extensive series is a well-articulated argument for focusing on your strengths versus developing your weaknesses. They describe the brain as a set of connections that work at various levels of efficiency and speed. The degree to which has been determined by your unique life experiences. Each thought reinforces a series of patterns that have been reliable in the past. By the time you’ve reached your teens, there are a few highly efficient pathways that you regularly use to interpret the world. Buckingham and Clifton define these super-fast, T1 lines, as your “Signature Themes”. They have defined thirty-four of them. Conversely, your weaknesses are those brain pathways that are least developed. It is a struggle to bridge the synapses to effectively think with those weak connections. As a result, it makes far more sense to learn how to capitalize on your T1 lines, instead of trying to build entirely new pathways for your weak lines. You should only spend enough time developing your weaknesses to do “damage control”.

The other significant point that they make is that as a manager, you must appreciate that each employee has a truly unique perspective on the world (those billions of neurons can combine in an incomprehensible number of ways). You must consider an employee’s combination of themes and use that to guide your interaction.

The book offers an access code to take their proprietary Strengths Finder test, and it will output your top five signature themes. My results are here. For those of you that know me, they are pretty accurate. The book offers an explanation of each of the themes, like the ones in my report, as well as some quotes from people that they’ve interviewed that exhibit that theme. They also offer a set of bullet points about how to best manage a person with each of the themes. The major benefit of the book is the chance to identify your themes.

I would recommend purchasing this book it to get an access code (you cannot purchase a code separately), for the explanations of each theme, for the tips on how to manage each theme and for the final chapter on building a strengths-based organization. I found the rest of the book to be fluff, and I skimmed the majority of it. They did not speak very much on the topic of building your strengths, but I assume that is the topic of their more recently published books.

Have any of you read their other books? Do they focus more on how to really capitalize on your themes to make them strengths?

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