Wednesday 11 March 2015

Taking the Strengthfinders Test

I have been thinking about what I will be doing when I go back to work. I work as a Performance Officer in local government, but by the time I started maternity leave, I was well and truly done with that. I am not a statistics person by nature and this job requires me to look at data and interpret it with a lot of detail – something that I don’t enjoy.

I have been looking at alternative career paths and options for an income and non have appealed enough to pursue them.

Years ago at university and again early in my career in Central Government I did the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Test, both times I was an ENFJ (Extrovert, Intuitive, Feeling, Judgemental) with the following traits:

ENFJs are natural-born leaders, full of passion and charisma. Forming around two percent of the population, they are oftentimes our politicians, our coaches and our teachers, reaching out and inspiring others to achieve and to do good in the world. With a natural confidence that begets influence, ENFJs take a great deal of pride and joy in guiding others to work together to improve themselves and their community (source).

Hence the reason I don’t like analysing statistics in my current role and occasionally want to thump someone, anyone, at work but could spend all day encouraging people to go for that job or try a new course.

After I had Darling I fully intended to go back to work and find another job, but I found myself expecting Baby. I then thought during maternity leave I would try a few short courses, learn to drive and pick up some skills that would help me make a career change.  Yeah that was happening with five kids. I'm impressed if I'm dressed by midday some days.

So whilst I thought about work on and off, I decided to take the Clifton Strengths Finder, an online personal assessment test which identifies your top strengths (based on the book Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton).

The test cost £10 for the basic top five strengths test and asked me to answer a set of 177 questions which took about 20 minutes. I have to say that the cost was worth it and the test was an eye opener for me. My top strengths were:

Positivity - People exceptionally talented in the Positivity theme have contagious enthusiasm. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.

Strategic - People exceptionally talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

Achiever - People exceptionally talented in the Achiever theme work hard and possess a great deal of stamina. They take immense satisfaction in being busy and productive.

Communication - People exceptionally talented in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.

Woo - People exceptionally talented in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with someone.

Positivity has always been my default attitude to life, but I never viewed it as a strength because of the way some people can see you as being naive and unrealistic or Pollyanna-like, but the test report describes how this trait can be really useful in certain careers.

The trait that really interested me was Strategic. I have written strategy documents at work and found this type of work interesting and not too difficult and have been praised for it. I think because I can see the whole picture and work out how all the disparate parts fit together across the organisation.

I used to get annoyed at my husband, my in-laws and just about everyone for doing things without thinking through the consequences. I used to complain that no one thought even a few hours ahead, especially when we were making plans, for travel for example. I realise now it’s the strategic trait that means I see all the potential eventualities and pack and plan for everyone. The test has made me understand how I think and not expect everyone else to think in the same way and this stops me getting annoyed.

I will be mulling over the test reports and thinking about which direction I need to take in April when I go back to work. What strengths tests have you tried that were eye-openers? How have they changed the way you view yourself?


  1. Salam alaykoum Sister,

    That is impressing, and inspiring. Both the test results, and you, how you can manage beimg so busy as a mum and still be interested in work stuff.
    I never took any tests except those in highschool found in women magazines..then I got married, had a son who is now 1.5 years, but still wondering how others manage..especially working mothers with children.
    My son is still very very demanding (nursing, co- sleeping, and attached even when we go to playgroup and other children and their mummies are around).
    I am not working and as not having any degrees, I think I should study first..
    Maybe will take one of these tests and see whats coming out for me -and start a career based on my interest and strength. I would actually love to work with refugees or helping/giving advice about benefits, and practictal things for new people in the UK
    I was just wondering when you are back to work, who will watch over Darling and Baby? I think childcare would be pricey for full time, and you have been writing about your mum in law helping out but she is back to Pakistan, just thats why I asking, how you manage that.
    Love to read your blog, Mashaallah it's a treat for me actually :)

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