Strengths Finder 2.0, by Tom Rath
Like many a sequel that is not quite as good as the original, this is a book that, if judged on its own merits, is a worthwhile read but still a pale imitation of the original book Now, Discover Your Strengths . Nonetheless, this is still a worthwhile book anyway, not least because it was the gift of a friend that allowed me to take the “Strengths Finder” test that this book (and all of the other ones in its series, apparently) promote that only allow for one person to take the test with each volume. This is a fiendishly clever way to sell books, and I mean that in the best possible way, but I suppose it makes the validation of one book, one test result as simple and straightforward as possible.
What is lacking in this book that was present in Now, Discover Your Strengths is largely the deep insights provided about positivity theory that the earlier book presented in the context of leadership and prestige. There is, furthermore, a great deal of repetition in this book from the earlier volume, in its opening pages introducing the need for “positive” psychology and in the descriptions and examples of the 34 strengths that were discussed in both the earlier volume and the present one.
That said, rather than complain about what is missing or repeated in what it, after all, a classic “sequel” work, let us examine what is in this book. The book opens with an introduction of the next generation of Strengths Finder, with some updated statistics, as well as an examination on the importance (and rarity) of finding your strengths and focusing on them rather than wasting time trying to shore up weaknesses exclusively. The vast majority of the book is taken up with the thirty-four “themes” of strength that the Strengths Finder test is based on. Each of these short sections has the same four sections: a description of the strength, some examples of people who have the strength, some ideas for action if you have that strength on how to develop it into a talent, and some tips for dealing with a coworker who has the strength.
The thirty four strengths, of course, are as follows, shown in alphabetical order: achiever, activator, adaptability, analytical, arranger, belief, command, communication, competition, connectedness, consistency, context, deliberative, developer, discipline, empathy, focus, futuristic, harmony, ideation, includer, individualization, input, intellection, learner, maximizer, positivity, relator, responsibility, restorative, self-assurance, significance, strategic, and woo. After these sections there is a short section for very frequently asked questions and then a bit of web-based places to look for further information.
To give a very brief account, this book is a mix between information that can be found on Now, Discover Your Strengths and on the online test with the personalized information and action plan (I plan on discussing my own results in an upcoming entry). As a result, this book is most worthwhile for the test that one can take as a result of purchasing or receiving this book, rather than for the mostly redundant information it contains. This is true of this book even more than the original. Nonetheless, the handiness of having all of the information about the various strengths in a very convenient package makes it a worthwhile book to have, and to examine, when dealing with someone who is similarly fond of the Strengths Finder test or the positive psychology perspective the book is a model of.