Audiobook Review: Go, Put Your Strengths To Work

Go, Put Your Strengths To Work, by Marcus Buckingham, read by the author

As someone who is pretty fond of the Strengthsfinder test [1] and its implications, it was perhaps unsurprising that I would take to this book by one of the people involved in researching the test and would seek to ponder the way in which we can shape our lives around that which we do best.  The author comes off as being a bit whiny with his English accent, but his points are driven home with both logic and a fair amount of sarcasm and some strong analogical reasoning.  Throughout this book, over and over again, we see that the world as a whole doesn’t care about your strengths and that it is the responsibility of people to communicate their strengths and weaknesses to others and to work to ensure that, as best as possible, they are able to manage their life to leverage their strength and to avoid their weaknesses.  That most people do not do this well is quite sad, and can even be the source of much of life’s tragedy where people find that they are simply not in a place where they can do their best work, and do not always know how to find the right job that does play to their strengths in what they do day in and day out.

This particular audiobook is in six discs and continually pushes the reader to act on what the author is saying.  The author refers over and over again to the Strengths finder website as well as to the various .pdf files that are meant to encourage a practical response by the reader to discover their strengths as well as to deeply analyze their job and to think of creative ways, in cooperation with one’s boss, to change the job to better capitalize on strengths and to minimize and avoid areas of weakness.  The argument the author uses, the productivity gains one has when doing what one is strong at and the losses in productivity that result in doing what weakens us, is one that is meant to resonate with employers focused on bottom line results (which is all them), rather than to appeal to some sort of vagueish positive psychology.  The author uses his own stories as well as a few recurring examples, like a talented Hampton brand manager, to illustrate his points on how people can better work within their strengths and therefore achieve far more at work than they would otherwise, and the message the author has about making one’s life better rather than seeking to leave jobs because of the frustration one has is certainly a message that will be welcome to employers and strengths-minded workers alike.

Indeed, when reading this book I was struck by the way that managing any team or group effectively is rather like being an athletic coach.  Everyone has roles that they perform best in, and teams work best when people are placed where they can best succeed and then pushed to work hard within those roles.  One would stick a punter at left tackle and then berate him for not blocking well, nor would one expect a nose tackle to be a good placekicker and then be hard on him for missing field goals and extra points.  But why do we do that when it comes to the teams that work in or volunteer in, where people are told that doing what frustrates us will make us stronger or that we need to be well-rounded.  No one expects elite athletes to be well-rounded–rather we exploit the talents and strengths they have and make sure that the team as a whole is well-rounded.  Why don’t we act that way when it comes to other areas of life?

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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1 Response to Audiobook Review: Go, Put Your Strengths To Work

  1. Pingback: An Introduction To The On Creativity Project | Edge Induced Cohesion

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