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I'm a fine art film photographer living in the mountains and traveling to tell beautiful stories





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This is going to change your life. I know, that sounds super dramatic, but I honestly think it will. It’s hardest to look into ourselves and realize what drives our natural talents and decision making. We may see the way they play out, or the consequences of our actions and choices, but what really explains why we do what we do? I’m not sure there was a better way to answer that for all people before StrengthsFinder.

A few months after Kat introduced it to us, Matt and I both took the test to get our top five strengths. It was amazing how completely a test of 177 seemingly abstract questions (which might feel confusing and as though you are answering some wrong) provided us with such accurate descriptions of ourselves. In fact, it gave us a whole new framework to understand each other and refer to the way we think, communicate and make some of the big decisions that are ahead of us. So before I go any farther, I’m going to hand it over to Kat who has provided an even more in depth introduction and compelling case for using strengthsfinder :

Back in the day when I was in my senior year of college (jk that was like yesterday) I got the opportunity to take a class called Career and Life Planning. Sounds a bit broad, and frankly a bit ridiculous that there could be class that is supposed to help you plan your life…because if you’re anything like me, having a life “plan” is just probably not going to happen. Nevertheless, i’m always down to try, and this class was basically just a really amazing chance to take a ton of personality/career tests so that you can begin to understand yourself better–what you like and dislike, what careers would be best for you, things you are particularly gifted at, etc. Seemed like a good place to start with the whole life “planning” situation. The best part is that most of these tests cost money, and if you enroll in the class you get to take them for free! What a steal. (at least they make you think it’s for free…minus the 50 grand/year in tuition). Either way, this sounded like the most amazing college class ever to me since i’m weirdly obsessed with personality tests. Yes, even those weird ones on facebook that tell you who your Harry Potter character would be (i’m Ron Weasley, thanks for asking). Anyways, I’m all about knowing yourself better, so that you can give yourself the best chance to succeed in life and help those around you to do the same. This class ended up being truly life changing for me, and the the tests I took helped to give me so much direction as I graduated and headed out into the “real world”.

The more people I meet, the more I realize how incredibly unique we all are. Getting along with people can be hard. Especially in the complex world of family, friends, significant others, work environments, you name it!  In terms of personality, I consider myself kind of a mutt. I can be a lot of things…like I think we call can be, but it wasn’t until I was introduced to the Strengthsfinder test through the class mentioned above, that I really understood the reasons behind why I am the way I am.

Like I said, I’m pretty into personality tests…so maybe this is not half as exciting or interesting as i think it is, but i’m going to go ahead and try to convince you that it is anyways because I think learning about your strengths is actually a life changing experience.

Basically, this test asks you a long series of questions, and gives you a time limit on each one. It asks you about how you respond to situations, what you prefer in social or work settings, about tendencies, etc. It’s important to answer as honestly as possible so that the test can accurately portray what your strengths are. The point of the test is to pick out your top five strengths (there are 34 total) and rank them in order from one to five. The first being your most dominant and so on. Then, the test gives you a write up called a “Strengths Interest Inventory” which describes how exactly your top five strengths combine with each other to make each strength completely unique to YOU! There are only about one in a million people who take the test that have the exact same strength combination as you! And let me tell you something–it is SO ACCURATE. Like scary accurate. And for each strength, it gives you both the generic assessment for that strength, and your personal write up about each of your top five in combination with the others.

For example, Mary and I have three out of our top five strengths in common. Communication, Positivity, and Ideation. But because they are in a different order (ie. positivity is my number three, and Mary’s number four) and because our other two strengths in our top five are completely different, the assessments we received for those strengths are totally different and personalized to each of us. How amazing is that? Mary’s positivity is totally different than mine! This is so cool to me because it shows that just because two people share some common threads, it doesn’t mean that they will always see eye-to-eye on everything, or react in the same way to a stressful situation. And we can’t expect that of each other or of ourselves! We are both needed, and although we are both positive people, each of us can bring something new to the table. It allows us to look at one another with fresh eyes of understanding, and to be gentle with one another–something we probably all need some work on at times. I know I do.

So just explained a little bit about why knowing your strengths and the strengths of those around you is important, but if you’re still not convinced you should spend the 10$ to take the test, let me continue to convince you (I could literally go on for hours…) Why else, you ask? Well for me, knowing my strengths has been life changing. It has built confidence in the way I respond to situations, interact with bosses, co-workers, friends, and family. It has given me new vocabulary to speak about myself to potential employers, and clients. It has allowed me to understand myself better, and mostly to just accept and love myself for who I am.

In a phrase, Strengthsfinder built me up and changed my interaction with the world. This is the reason why since i’ve taken it, i’ve pretty much force-fed it so every single person of value in my life. Heck, in the past 10 days, I’ve convinced seven people to take it. And you’re the eighth, i can feel it.

Here are my strengths:

  1. Woo (winning others over)
  2. Adaptability
  3. Positivity
  4. Communication
  5. Ideation (the value and love of ideas)

Here are Mary’s:

  1. Achiever
  2. Communication
  3. Futuristic
  4. Positivity
  5. Ideation

Take the test with a close friend or family member and tell us yours!

thanks Kat! She’s a great writer + communicator (obvs) and I know you are probably confused by our unpaid infomercial but I think once you take the test you may understand. It’s strangely addicting, probably in part because it gives you such insight into people. So if you are brave enough to share let us know + look for a future blog post where we go in depth with what our strengths are and how we have used the test to grow.

  1. Alex says:

    Wow, this is so neat! It’s so important to be aware of our strengths and weaknesses! I am putting this on my to-do list!

  2. Camille says:

    I love personality tests and have always wanted to take this one. It sounds very thorough and worthwhile. Thanks for sharing about it!

  3. Rachl says:

    Such a great post! I can’t wait to go back and take the test! So glad to have found you from the rising tide society!

  4. Paige Johnson says:

    I recently took the strengthsfinder test as well! My mother-in-law is all about it! It was really great and very interesting finding out my strengths and being able to see the strengths you may share with others. It also does help so much with understanding yourself better. We actually share a trait Mary:) Achiever was one of mine as well!


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