When I entered college, I did not know what I wanted to do with my life, I did not know what I was passionate in. I felt like I was mainly in college because everyone else in high school wanted to go and it just seemed like the “correct” thing to do. Growing up in a 1st generation Asian family, I was often times compared with many of the other kids around my age. They always just seem to know what they want to do in life.
Most of the time…I fell short. I was only above average in the sciences and my English was below average. Math was okay for me but I was not good enough to be the math wiz, and history kept putting me to sleep. I just did not feel smart enough. My friends were getting 3.6+ GPA, whereas I was stuck in the 2.9 to 3.1 GPA range. I would visit counselors at my school for advice like MANY students. Unfortunately, I was told to consider seeking a different career.
I often think, “you know…maybe others are right, I might just be that guy who will end up working at McDonald’s one day.” Of course, I didn’t give up just yet, I was open to any possible solution. Some time passed and one day, in one of my classes, I was given this one life-changing assignment.
The Book that Changes Lives
As a class assignment, I was told to buy this one book. I used to be the person who buys ALL the textbooks for class, only to find out later that I rarely read them anyway. It did not feel like the greatest use of my finances since I was already poor, so I started to train myself to NOT get textbooks anymore. I did okay in school just relying on the PowerPoint slides. So I would say I started to get used to it.
Unfortunately, this one book was required to get through one of my classes. Additionally, I could not escape getting it “used” because ONLY the new version contains a key code. This book is titled Strengths Finder 2.0. This ended up being one the few books I read for school and happened to be one of my favorites. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases)
The Problem with Society
Before I get into what the book is about, I wanted to talk a little bit about society. Society these days (from my experience) is very focused on producing individuals who are the richest, wisest, smartest, fittest, most popular, bravest, you name it. Unfortunately, not everyone of us is as privileged or as gifted as some (but maybe you might be!).
Consequently, this takes the attention away from the self toward something more external beyond our control. This can create a lot of self-defeating thoughts and high stress. As a result, we often find ourselves comparing with others in various categories only to find out we have fallen short.
If you have a group of different animals and the focus is on “climbing the tree”…the fish, elephant, and giraffe might not do so well while the monkey, sloth, and koala will flourish. BUT…whoever made “climbing the tree” the standard, have they taken the time to consider what the fish, elephant, and giraffe may be good at?
So What’s Special About this Book?
Strengths Finder 2.0 is one of those books that does the exact opposite of society, it aims to build you up. Rather than focusing on what we CANNOT do, this book helps you to discover what you CAN do and what your valuable characteristics are.
This is where that key code comes in handy. This key code takes you to a survey of questions. It will ask questions like how likely are you to do A and B in this situation. After taking that survey, the program will determine what your top 5 strengths are out of the 34 or so. From there, the book contains information about the various strengths and teach you how to enhance them.
By focusing on one’s strength, it can help minimize or even potentially eliminate negativity within an organization. If all members of an organization focuses on positivity, it will lead to a more happy and successful organization.
An Example Strength
When I took the survey test, one of my strengths was actually empathy. I used to look down at why I was such a sensitive and weak person for a guy because of society. I’ve seen other males and they are like some of the toughest people I know! Why couldn’t I be more like them?
But the Strengths Finders 2.0 book helped me to turn empathy into a strength. When others go through a hard time, I feel their pain. When they fail a test or lose a loved one, I feel that pain. This is vital in fields like counseling, healthcare, and education.
Perhaps even why society can sometimes come off as ignorant and “malicious” today is because of they were victims themselves. They might not have been shown what understanding, love, and care is. Maybe they had an abusive upbringing and that’s what led them to have that outlook on life. Or maybe they just had a bad day.
As it turned out, college was actually a VERY necessary time to really discover myself. Who I am, what my likes and dislikes are, what I wanted to do, etc. were things I was able to learn. Essentially, it was a time of trial and error with MANY failures at every step of the way. I had previously thought it was a waste of time (and money). Seemed like it was just learning things that I would probably never use again anyway. Never have I ever been more wrong. I sometimes use the science I learned back then to understand things I experience today.
The most important thing to remember is that all those failures we endured are all part of the journey and a collection of valuable experiences that can NEVER be replaced. I am who I am today because of all those experiences (both negative and positive). What really helps is to NOT look at the failures as only a bad thing. Rather, try to see it as growing and learning opportunities (something more positive).
For example, if I did poorly on a test, I can reflect back on what led up to that moment, did I study enough? Did I not give myself enough breaks or was too hard on myself? Perhaps my studying technique is not effective? Maybe I needed a study buddy?
By asking these questions, I can learn how to prepare better for the next test and implement new strategies until I find the method that works and is consistent. Through these many “failures” and trial and error attempts to find a solution, it will eventually lead to success. This thinking process is another strength of mine: adaptability.
The Strengths Finder 2.0 book helps you to discover what your strengths are (your positives) and to FOCUS on building upon that. This is critical to know when you are out in the world applying for jobs or even higher education. When you have the extra energy and time, maybe then try to focus on building and correcting your weaknesses. Sadly, we grew up in a society where we focused too much on the negatives and what we are NOT good at. This aspect of society needs to change.
I mentioned earlier that I might be the guy working at McDonald’s for life and was told MANY times over that I won’t get anywhere in life? Well, today, I am in studying in a Master’s Program and nearly about to graduate. Hard to believe that I actually spent over 5 years applying to programs. Even after that, I won’t stop there but will continue to build myself up and seek to learn even more.
Life has so much to offer so life long learning all the way! If I can make it this far EVEN with all my failures, then I can say WITH CONFIDENCE that you CAN make it to where you want to be also! Good luck with all your current/future endeavors! (Click here to read about how to achieve ANY goal).
Did you enjoy this life hack on finding your strengths which may help guide you in determining your passion in life? Please leave a comment below!