Find Your Strengths and Your Sweet Spot


I know StrengthsFinder 2.0 has been mentioned in the GovLoop community, but I want to vouch for it.  If you haven’t already taken this online survey, check it out at

The survey tests your preferences among 34 themes and spits out a nice report on your top five strengths.  These are the areas where you tend to excel…your professional sweet spot where work starts to merge with play and all is well with your world.  And there’s comfort knowing that your personal results reflect the collective experience of the millions (yes, millions) who have been tested before you.

Among all those stories of personal discovery is my own.

Let’s say that re-org is in the air…is at your door…is in your very lap!  Perhaps you sense the value of your currency is changing, and you can just hear the business news talking heads urging, “Sell, sell!”  This oh-no moment is a great time to assess yourself and inform your next steps.  What you learn can give you courage.

I can say that I found comfort with the positive feedback in my report.  There were some affirmations and a bit of surprise.  After years of practicing communication, touting the excellence of my oral and written abilities, “communication” did not roll up in my top five strengths.  Instead, I discovered I have “strategic” preferences for learning, thinking, creating context, collecting information and looking at the big picture.  In other words, the class know-it-all (ask me how much I love Google search).

StrengthsFinder also advises on situations to avoid and opportunities to approach.  Thus, I have a much better sense for why I get a kick out of working with leaders on big issues, policy and legislation and why I did not meet my expectations as a supervisor, manager and team member.  And that communication thing?  I believe I’m just compelled to share what I’ve learned with others.

With the help of a career coach and the support of my supervisor, I made a switch for the better.  After five years as a public communications director, I’ve repurposed myself for legislative relations, survey development, special research and writing projects and engaging citizens with our local public history and heritage.  This unites a lot of threads from my strengths report.

Supervisors play a big role here, and need a bit of courage to risk your re-definition.  Some disruption is likely in your work group, and it may take 2 – 3 years before you and others are comfortable with the change.

So, what’s your story?  You may be a StrengthsFinder candidate if:

  • You’re a new graduate and you still don’t know what to do when you grow up;
  • You’ve tasted the workplace for a few years, and found it wanting;
  • You see workplace or other opportunity and want to assess a different future;
  • You’re late career and you still don’t know what to do when you grow up;
  • You’re, shall we say, liberated, from the workplace and still have much to offer.

Toni Messina is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

Corri Spiegel

We used Strengths in my former organization. It gave us a common terminology to work from which helped us better understand how people approached situations. Before Strengths, I was mis-labeled as “cliquey” which really frustrated me. After Strengths coaching, I was easily able to describe what people were perceiving was really the combination of my Relator-Individualization. That explanation completely changed people’s perspectives. Another common misperception was the “pushy woman” syndrome, which is in reality nothing more than the Activator-Command duo, which are both in my Top 5. I highly recommend the investment to learn more about yourself!

Toni Messina

Good for you, Corri – I hope that you’re still using your strengths in your current role…considering running for office? 😉