Truth About You

I'm reading Marcus Buckingham's The Truth About You ISBN:9781400202263 book plus DVD (Book List). I got it for free in return for writing about it.

Summary: I think this could be very valuable for people feeling they haven't found their niche. It's a fresh way of thinking about strengths and weaknesses, and incrementally making your DayJob less draining.

It has 3 things packaged together:

  • A DVD you're supposed to watch first.

    • I thought, from reading the intro in the book, that it would be a "movie" about a kid playing the trombone. In reality, it's mostly Marcus doing the talking-head thing, with snippets from the trombone-back-story interspersed without dialog.

    • Everyone (Management, Educating Kids, Self Improvement) pays most attention to our weaknesses, and says we should put more energy into fixing them. This is backwards: we should focus our energy on (a) getting better at our Strengths, and (b) applying ourselves to situations where our Strengths will have most value.

    • He's Framing a Strength not as "what you're good at", but rather "what makes you feel stronger".

    • You should carry a NoteBook, and for a whole week, write down each time you feel Stronger, whether (a) anticipating something you're about to do, (b) doing something, or (c) reflecting on something you just did. Note this should be tied to your actions, not your feelings about someone else's actions.

    • There are extra items on the DVD that require your computer.

      • (I haven't looked at those yet.)
  • a pad/NoteBook: holding it one way gives you "I feel Strong when..." pages referred to in the DVD, holding it the other way gives you "I feel Week when..." pages.

  • the book

    • it's glued into the packaging, which makes it a pain to hold/carry/read. Luckily it was just rubber cement, so I yanked it out.

    • focus on building on your Strengths

      • treat your team members as partners with complementary Strengths
    • after a week of using the NoteBook you should have 15-20 Strength events. Now turn those into 3 Strength Statement-s.

      • this should be driven by the fundamental thing behind 1 or more of these events, still specific enough to be precise, but generalizable enough to help you seek/smell/find opportunities to experience that Strength. And when you read the Statement you should get a buzz/jolt.
    • people take a job for the Why (Meaning), stay for the Who (people there you like), but ultimately quit over the What (actual job actions).

      • so when considering going after a new job, ask "What will I be paid to Do?" (Ask about typically daily Actions, not expected Outcomes/Results.) Then ask whether you can apply your 3 Strengths to that situation.
    • every week make a Strong Week Plan: identify 2 things you will do in the coming week that will put your Strengths into play. Ask your manager on Monday morning, Framing your request/plan in terms of benefit to the team's performance. (Boy this has a Fast Company Middle Manager whiff to it.)

      • some of this examples are about how to use your off-hours, so you're on your own for that
    • what about your Weaknesses? You can just ignore them, they'll screw up your overall reputation

      • use the black NoteBook pages for a week now to identify Weakness/Loathing actions/events. Then make 3 Weakness Statement-s.

      • Now try not doing those things (without telling anyone), and see if anyone notices. (You might get lucky. It could be some pointless invisible waste.)

      • Assuming that didn't work, try to find someone you can partner with, who has opposite Strengths/Weaknesses, and see if you can do switch tasks.

      • At the same time, keep working on making your Stengths even better, so people won't mind the slip-ups with your Weaknesses (that you haven't managed to trade away), and they'll give you more new tasks that fit those Strengths, rather than a random assortment.

      • See if you can use a Strength to change your approach to a Weakness (example in book: Rudy Giuliani had arguing as a Strength, but prepared Public Speaking as a Weakness, so he turned his public speeches into tiny prepared statements followed by long interactive sessions).

      • If all else fails, suck it up and do it. You'll still have minimized the portion of your week spent on such things, few people drive it to 0.

    • Beware 5 mis-directions

      • the Golden Rule: don't assume you know how other people (e.g. Team members) want to be treated. (Try to get them all to go through same exercises so they can understand their Strengths and Weaknesses. So you can make a Market.)

      • "there's no I in Team" (in other words don't try to take your own Strengths into account in designing your job, that's selfish): this is just some weird calvinist thing.

      • "you should work on your Weaknesses". Nope, already covered.

      • "Push yourself past your Comfort Zone". Maybe in pushing your Strenghts further, but not in working on your Weaknesses.

      • "Your greatest Strength is also your greatest Weakness" (another spin on getting you to work on your weakneses, vs "bad monomania" over your Strengths. Nope, just wrong.


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