StrengthsFinder 2.0 is an assessment system developed by social scientists at The Gallup Organization to identify clusters of behavioral and attitudinal variables classified into themes or “strengths.”

The system was built on the research of Dr. Donald O. Clifton (1924-2003)  dubbed the “Father of Strengths Psychology.” The original StrengthsFinder system was updated in 2007 as StrengthsFinder 2.0 to reflect additional research.

The motivation for creating this assessment system is based on the idea that humans will be more effective and successful if they know what their strengths are and play to those strengths. The idea is analogous to swimming against the current. We can get a lot farther along the way, if we’re swimming with the current, rather than fighting it.

In the workplace, the idea is that teams should be comprised of the right balance of individuals with complementary strengths to maximize organizational performance.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 Results

I’ve taken the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment twice. The first time, in Fall 2007, I took it as part of a workplace assessment. Everyone in the law firm took the assessment with the idea that we could use this information to create teams to work on various client problems. The second time, in June 2012, I received a code to take the test again as part of a leadership training program I was in.

In this post, I’ll delve into the Strengths themes identified in my StrengthsFinder 2.0 results. If you’re following along, I’m writing a series of posts where I review and contemplate the results of various personality and similar tests. I’ve finished my deep-dive into MBTI results (four posts) and also reflected on the MoralDNA results and how the Strong Campbell Interest Inventory themes from my college orientation assessment are reflected in later career and life developments. The motivation behind this exercise is to help me find a way to do a better job of telling my story.

The results from my two assessments were fairly consistent, with three of the five themes showing up in both results.

2007 Themes

  • Strategic
  • Input
  • Learner
  • Ideation
  • Intellection

2012 Themes

  • Ideation
  • Strategic
  • Learner
  • Maximizer
  • Achiever

Strategic, Ideation and Learner were the three themes that appeared in both results. In fact, Strategic was #1 on the list in 2007 and #2 in 2012. ’ll cover those in this post and the others in future posts.

What’s interesting is that I can clearly identify how the disparate themes: Input, Intellection, Maximizer, Achiever probably surfaced in 2007 and 2012. I strongly suspect that these themes reflect particular frustrations I was feeling at the time.


The Strategic theme relates to a unique way of thinking and viewing the world.

“[The Strategic theme] enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. It is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large.”

StrengthsFinder 2.0, p. 165

Strategists identify issues, find patterns and look for alternatives.

Keywords and phrases associated with the Strategic Theme:

  • Self-reliant
  • Identify patterns in complex data
  • Develop innovative ideas
  • “Propose systematic programs of action”

“You frequently identify ways to transform an obstacle into an opportunity.”

StrengthsFinder 2.0 Report



“You are delighted when you discover beneath the the complex surface an elegantly simple concept to explain why things are the way they are….Yours is the kind of mind that is always looking for connections….”

StrengthsFinder 2.0, p. 113


Ideation is not about accepting information at face-value. The Ideator delves beneath the surface to compare, contrast, verify, and relate.

In a nutshell, someone with the Ideation theme likes to look at the world from a variety of angles and find commonalities. We are the dot-connectors.

Keywords and phrases associated with the Ideation Theme:

  • Creative
  • Original
  • Conceptual
  • Smart

My StrengthsFinder Report says this about Ideation:

“Acquiring knowledge and skills each day adds zest to your life.”

And that is the perfect segue into the next theme.


This one is pretty straightforward. Learners love to learn and they love the process of learning. It’s not about becoming the subject-matter expert: Learning is about the journey.

“[Learning] enables you to thrive in dynamic work environments where you are asked to take on short project assignments and are expected to learn a lot about the new subject matter in a short period of time and then move on to the next one.”

StrengthsFinder 2.0, p. 133

The Learner is someone who quickly learns new words and grasps new concepts with relative ease.

The Learner theme also includes several references to a desire for quiet time for reading and reflecting.

“You thrive in situations where you can test your talents as well as your endurance to discover how much you can accomplish. You need to prove yourself to yourself each day.”

StrengthsFinder Report, Learner

I'm closing this post with the quote about the need to prove myself each day because it directly relates to the two themes I'll be covering in my next post: Achiever and Maximizer.

Have you taken the StrengthsFinder assessment? I know my friend Wade Kwon has written about wondering what to do with the StrengthsFinder results.

As I see it, this whole process of self-discovery through a systematic review of the qualitative data associated with all these tests is definitely revealing common themes across multiple measures. I'm about 70% of the way through my dataset right now, and I'm really starting to understand how I plan to use what I'm learning about myself.

There's a Strategy that's emerging from the process of Learning about myself through the MBTI and other data. Connecting-the-dots is exactly what we do in the Ideation theme.


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Into Happiness, Social Business, Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Real Food. Hiker. Runner. Friend to Animals. Beekeeper. Idea Explorer. Dot Connector. Writer.

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