Maximizer & Achiever: Strengths Finder 2.0

In my previous post I introduced the results to my two Strengths Finder 2.0 assessments (2007 and 2012). That post focused on the three themes common to both assessments: Strategic, Ideation and Learner.

In this post, I continue the Strengths Finder 2.0 discussion with a look at the two themes that appeared in 2012 that weren't present in 2007: Achiever and Maximizer.

Characteristics of the Achiever

Achievers value achievement. Duh. What, exactly does that mean?

The definition of Achiever is someone who must, every day, “achieve something tangible in order to feel good” about himself or herself.

For the Achiever, “every day starts at zero” [Strengths Finder 2.0 book] The Achiever is described as someone who must achieve something every single day—rest is not an option.

The “relentless need for achievement” inspires a “whisper of discontent” that provides a “jolt you can always count on” to “work long hours without burning out.” [Strengths Finder 2.0, p. 37.]

“You have an internal fire burning inside [that] pushes you to do more, to achieve more.”

Strengths Finder 2.0, p. 37

So is this me? In a tiny way, perhaps yes. But not in the workaholic-never-rest-always-be-achieving sense.

But the Report that accompanied my 2012 results paints a more interesting picture of the Achiever:

Instinctively, you put a lot of effort into telling a story. You strive to amuse, entertain, or inform your audience. You have a reputation for setting the scene, making characters come alive, and capturing the drama of a situation. Chances are good that you sometimes enjoy launching new initiatives. Perhaps you have a reputation for knowing how to get projects moving forward. By nature, you often labor long and hard to produce excellent results.

I do have a lot that I want to accomplish in my life, but that's more a function of having many interests than a need to “achieve” something as a way to check off a box or prove myself to anyone else.

When I'm doing something interesting and that I enjoy doing (and that I've chosen to do), I can work really long hours. But I can't work long hours doing something I dislike or did not choose to do, not matter how much I feel a general need for achievement.

If the activity isn't interesting to me or at least consistent with serving my higher purpose, I'll burn out very quickly.

My 2012 Report also points out that I need independence in my work, control over what I do, and time for solitude.

In some ways, I think this Achiever result might have been a function of where I was in 2012: Deep into a situation where I felt as though I were stagnating. No matter what I did I had no sense of accomplishment, no sense of purpose. It's possible that my definition of achievement is somewhat situational and the sense of achievement is, for sure, more personal than external.

I'm not a workaholic in the sense that I have a need to always be distracting myself from my life by working at some task simply to achieve.

I don't like to waste time on mindless trivial activities. I don't watch TV and I no longer pay attention to celebrity news (or even political punditry). As I've written about elsewhere, I stopped consuming sports media because I have too many things I want to accomplish in my life.

My time is valuable so I don't like to waste it in mundane, meaningless distractions. I prefer to use my time to do something that serves some higher purpose that resonates with my values. In that sense, I am achievement oriented.

Characteristics of the Maximizer

Maximizing is about taking things to the next level to achieve excellence. To move from good to great, as Curt Liesveld said in Gallup's Theme Thursday video (embedded at the end of the next section).

The Maximizer knows or comes to know his or her talents and strengths and takes affirmative action to improve those talents. Maximizers tend to prefer to work alone, according to the Report that accompanied my results.

Excellence, not average, is your measure.

You don't want to spend your life bemoaning what you lack. Rather, you want to capitalize on the gifts with which you are blessed.

Strengths Finder 2.0, p. 137

I definitely identify with the Maximizer theme. I struggle to understand how anyone can be satisfied with doing something half-way or “just good enough.” I sometimes struggle to let go of my own perfectionism, even when I know that OK is, for the situation, perfectly good enough.

….A commitment to excellence that leads to quality outcomes.

Curt Liesveld: Gallup's Theme Thursday video (see below)

Maximizer falls under the Influencing domain and inhabits roughly 17% of all individuals’ top five strengths.

Gallup Strengths Coaches' Playbook

The Maximizer theme is most often paired with the Strategic theme, according to the Gallup's Theme Thursday video embedded below. Maximizers are also often correlated with the Achiever theme.

Achiever vs. Maximizer: What's the Difference?

It's a bit tricky, at least on the surface, to see how these two themes are different. So I set out to do my research.

Maximizer falls under the Influencing domain and inhabits roughly 17% of all individuals’ top five strengths. The Strategic and Achiever themes are most likely to be paired with Maximizer….

Gallup Strengths Coaches' Playbook

As the speaker in the video points out, if you want to achieve excellence you must work hard so the achiever and maximizer themes are clearly interrelated.

According to this synopsis of the StrengthsFinder 2.0 themes:

  • Achievers “have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.”
  • Maximizers “focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.”

I suspect that I'm probably more of a Maximizer than Achiever, in a universal sense. But my Achiever tendency is strong, albeit it in a more personal context. I want to Achieve for myself, rather than to prove anything to the external world.


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