We often spend a lot of time on criticizing parts of ourselves that we wish to change, alter, or correct. Our concept of self-esteem can only be established after serious self-reflection. Our shortcomings can be presented in the form of physical weakness, appearance, or lack of knowledge or skill.


I certainly am guilty of this in high school. I would constantly scrutinize myself and focus on what I thought was wrong with me rather than the positive qualities that I felt I possessed. My self-esteem definitely suffered because of this. And my self-confidence, in effect, suffered as well. I was unable to enjoy what I really enjoyed doing because my thoughts were consumed by thoughts of what was not right.


But our constant obsession over our flaws is not only unhealthy, but also unproductive, according to Tom Rath in his book StrengthsFinder 2.0.


Rath collaborated with Gallup to create the StrengthsQuest test, a 30-minute online assessment where you have to go with your first instinct by choosing between two choices for each question.


At the end of the test, your top five strengths are revealed, with the philosophy that we should focus on exercising and developing our strengths rather than focus on our weaknesses and areas we wish we could improve. The strengths that the StrengthsQuest test highlights are not only applicable in your career, but in your personal life, particularly in relationship building and maintenance.


When I started college, one of the first things I did as a Hokie was take the StrengthsQuest test, and I have come to understand firsthand the logic behind the argument.


My top five strengths, and their descriptions according to StrengthsFinder 2.0, are:


Learner: “You love to learn. The outcome of the learning is less significant than the ‘getting there.’”


Discipline: “You set up routines. You focus on timelines and deadlines. You break long- term projects into a series of specific short-term plans, and you work through each plan diligently.”


Achiever: “You have an internal fire burning inside you. It pushes you to do more, to achieve more.”


Developer: “You see the potential in others. When you interact with others, your goal is to help them experience success. You look for ways to challenge them.”


Harmony: “You look for areas of agreement. In your view there is little to be gained from conflict and friction, so you seek to hold them to a minimum.”


In my own life, I have tried to incorporate my top five strengths more prominently into my daily life. By doing so, I found that I am more confident in my own abilities and less insecure about parts of myself that I’d like to improve. Rath also reports that people who do focus on strengths training are three times more likely to report having an excellent quality of life.


Utilizing these strengths to their fullest potential, Rath argues, will also positively affect your job satisfaction and performance. According to his research, “people who do have the opportunity to focus on their strengths are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs.”

-You are braver than you believe,


So, while you cannot take the test unless you have an access code through your company, take some time to make a list of qualities you see in your self that you are proud of, not ones that you wish to fix. Then, think of ways to incorporate what you see as strengths into your life more consistently. Rath boils it down to one simple equation: talent x investment of time = strength.