StrengthsFinder: Your 'Weaknesses' Are Actually Strengths

Throw out the horoscopes, Myers-Briggs, and even your Enneagram, because I’ve found the best personality test of all: CliftonStrengths. Although many skeptics believe personality tests are a hoax (me being one of them), I still know that my sun sign is a Libra, I’m at the cusp between INTP and INTJ, and I’m a Type 1. My “personality types” are quite insightful, dare I say, accurate, but the results were never truly satisfying. The descriptions were too vague, I couldn’t fully take ownership of any, or it just wasn’t a complete enough picture of myself. With my brain moving a million miles per millisecond, I kept searching for the answer to my existential crises.

Why am I constantly obsessive-compulsively trying to fix myself? 

Is it because I’m a perfectionist Type 1 enneagram?

Why does my brain feel like such a cluttered mess?

Is my Libra air sign-ness the cause of this?

Why can I hold so much guilt inside of me?

Am I just too analytical like the INTP says I am?

Now praise Don Clifton, the Father of Strengths Psychology and grandfather of positive psychology by the American Psychological Association (APA), inventor of CliftonStrengths, and the answer to my self-conception I’ve been searching for my whole life. There are 34 CliftonStrengths themes, all of which measure talents. The themes are divided into four domains: executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking.

After rubbing the genie’s lamp, I was granted my top five strengths.

  1. 1. Restorative — Stop being such a perfectionist.

    Three neon signs that say "perfect" in different colors

    When I was given the perfectionist award in seventh grade, I was proud that this was a personality trait. Like many other perfectionists, I never saw perfectionism as a flaw — it usually fueled me to do better, and I was often rewarded for this unhealthy way of thinking. 

    Perfectionism was a weakness in my mind, and I never saw it as a strength until it was renamed as Restorative.

    “People who are especially talented in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems. They are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.”

    I hated solving people’s problems, but I loved solving my own. This explained why even at my worst, I still had self-motivation to push myself to be better. I was constantly looking for ways to improve myself and to do it “more perfectly than [I] have in the past.” I am constantly concentrating on identifying my personal and professional shortcomings. 

    I can be way too self-critical, but it’s what makes me hardwired to fix problems I find to make whether it be mine or other people’s lives easier.

  2. 2. Input — Why do you hoard everything?

    notifications on iPhone

    My email notifications, photo library and screenshots are in four digits. 

    I have endless notes, Instagram saves and my text message conversations date back to who knows how long ago. I would always characterize myself as an organized mess. I had so much information and stuff in my life digitally, tangibly and mentally. It was difficult to navigate.

    “People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.”

    Input explained why I had so much stuff. I spend so much time reading everything with complete detail because I’m collecting every bit of information possible with its vocabulary, tone and context. It’s why I listen so carefully to discussions and eavesdrop when I’m not supposed to — I’m collecting informational knowledge for it one day to prove valuable. It’s why I sometimes get FOMO because I enjoy being kept in the information loop.

    It’s okay that I’m “cluttered.” Compiling all this stuff is what keeps my mind fresh. 

  3. 3. Intellection — You think too much. 

    Girl with closed eyes and praying hands

    Who knew anxiety could have a prettier name?

    My mind wanders all over the place. I think too much in the past, I end up being depressed. I’m exhausted from hanging out with people. It takes me forever to complete the simplest of tasks.

    Doing too many activities was truly exhausting for my brain, and it would require a substantial amount of time by myself doing “nothing.” I would get down on myself for being unproductive and wasting so much time, but in reality, I wasn’t.

    “People who are especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions."

    My “unproductive time” was my thinking time. I wasn’t doing “nothing,” in fact, my mind was on hyperdrive musing, ruminating and reflecting, so I could bring the most I can to my life. “Intellection” has lead me to my love for literature and psychology. It’s why I work well with “big thinkers” and why writing is so therapeutic to focus my thoughts. 

    It explains why, even with all the time in the world, I can still be late caught up in my own thoughts. But it’s also why I can be open-minded, and why I can have deep talks with just about anyone.

  4. 4. Individualization — How come you keep attracting emotional baggage?

    woman sitting alone looking out window

    In all my relationships, platonically and romantically, I end up befriending the ones with too much emotional baggage. I am always overanalyzing every person’s actions, tiny and large: their style, motivation, how they think and how they build relationships.

    “People who are especially talented in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively.”

    My individualization is why I pick the best birthday gifts. It explains why I’m always offering a bunch of food suggestions and places to visit on your next vacation. 

    It explains how I end up in vulnerable positions and can be taken advantage of, but It’s also why I can draw out the best in people.

  5. 5. Responsibility — Dude…you need to chill out.

    I’m an overachiever. I do more than just try to live up to my commitments. I feel god awful when I don’t do things correctly or when I can’t follow through with something I said I would, even if it’s the smallest thing. It’s why I am always punishing myself with guilt because I’ve broken my personal code of ethics.

    No, I didn’t have strict Asian parents pressuring me into doing well in school, it was all me.

    "People who are especially talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty." 

    My responsibility is why people call me “trustworthy, reliable and dependable.” It’s why I’m constantly trying to increase efficiency no matter how small of a task. It explains why, with whatever I’m involved, I will do it to the best of my abilities, whether it’s as a student, co-worker, daughter, sister or friend.

    It explains why I often end up overbooking myself and feel guilty and why even though I can procrastinate until the very last second, I will still follow through.

Our society is founded on figuring out what is wrong with us, not what is right. Like other psychology critiques, Don Clifton wanted to study not what was weak about us, but what makes us strong.

Life is gray, and while my strengths can be a disadvantage at times, CliftonStrengths helped me figure out what makes me special. I am not as weak as I thought I was, I am strong.