We live in a very competitive society; one where having an edge often requires going out of your comfort zone and utilizing an impartial third party with the skills and knowledge to help you define and accomplish your goals. Those goals can range from finding a spouse to getting the corner office in the “C Suite.”

I have always been a firm believer in continuous personal improvement. But, how can you improve yourself, if you don’t really know where/who you are? Most of us need some guideposts.

For me, my defining moment was when I took an online personal assessment. Most of us have been exposed to Myers Briggs or some other personality tests that categorize how you relate to the world. While most of these tests can prove somewhat beneficial, I don’t feel that being put into little boxes of personalities was helpful. I needed something more substantial to really understand what drives me to do certain things and avoid others.

I was given Gallup’s StrengthsFinder “test” while still employed in local government and struggling to meet the expectations of my manager. I was told repeatedly that I did not pay attention to details. When I was given the results of my StrengthsFinder assessment I had the answers to my questions about why I was not succeeding. Come to find out, I really was in the wrong job. I mean, really in the wrong job!

StrengthsFinder systematically measures your responses to a about 180 questions, which are graded on a continuum. My results showed that I excel at: research, conceptual thinking, strategy, and learning. Up until then, I was suffering with thinking that I lacked motivation or intellect to look at programmatic minutiae. My StrengthsFinder profile showed me that, not only did I not care about details, I was almost incapable of seeing them. I was continuously looking at the “big-picture” and searching for answers to questions others didn’t know they should ask.

With my new self-awareness in-hand, I set out to tell everyone the good news. “You are not deficient!” If you are not successful, it’s because you are trying to put your round strengths into a square set of employment qualifications. No wonder there are so many unhappy workers out there.

I love helping people. I like knowing that people trust me enough to tell me their struggles. My secret is; that when the people around me improve, so do I.

For a list of resources used in this article, please email me.