I just finished reading the book Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton. It’s a book and an online test. The authors have isolated and defined 34 distinct strengths or themes common with people. Their thesis is that we all have a top five that best matches us. And that in order to excel in life, we should NOT work on weaknesses, but instead focus even more on those top five strengths.

Each book comes with one key to take an online test, so if taking the test is important to you then I suggest buying a new copy of the book. If you are like me and are able to self assess, then you can save a few bucks by getting a used copy.

Here are my top 5 Strengths and a snippet of the definition from the book.


Achiever describes a constant need for achievement. You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by “every day” you mean every single day — workdays, weekdays, vacations.


You want to understand how certain patterns affect one another. How do they combine? What is their outcome? Does this outcome fit with the theory being offered or the situation being confronted?


You love to solve problems. Whereas some are dismayed when they encounter yet another breakdown, you can be energized by it. You enjoy the challenge of analyzing the symptoms, identifying what is wrong, and finding solutions.


An independent spirit, you want your work to be a way of life rather than a job, and in that work you want to be given free rein, the leeway to do things your way.


Guided by this theme of Focus, you need a clear destination. Lacking one, your life and your work can quickly become frustrating. And so each year, each month, and even each week you set goals.

The last part of the book is written for managers. It guides them on how to manage each of the 34 strengths in their employees.