My Strengths

I recently took the Clifton Strengths Quest – my results were:

  1. Intellection
  2. Learner
  3. Input
  4. Responsibility
  5. Restorative

The first 3 are part of the “Strategic Thinking” domain, while the final 2 are part of the “Executing” domain.  I certainly think these reflect how I approach tasks!  Here are some of my thoughts on some snippets from the “Strengths Insight Report”:


“Driven by your talents, you prepare for assignments by reading extensively. Your capacity for pulling together information from books, publications, correspondence, notes, or Internet sites serves you well.”

This strength is shared by many others in higher education – this is what our academic background trains us to do!  This is a core skill of research – making sure you understand what work has already been published.  Less obviously, it also impacts my classroom practice.  What research has been done on different teaching techniques?  What advice have faculty given regarding challenges I am facing?  One downside to this approach is that I panic when I don’t know how to do something and can’t find information on what to do.


“By nature, you ponder your decisions rather than react without thinking through things. You weigh the possible ramifications, consequences, outcomes, and effects. You aim to understand the basic “whys” and “hows” of a situation, problem, or opportunity.”

Hmm, maybe this is why my syllabi are usually 16 pages long  – I try to explain the why and how of every classroom policy!  I typically start with outcomes and work backwards to create a plan to get to those outcomes.  This is one reason why I value assessment so highly – did the plan actually yield those outcomes?  Again, there are some downsides to this approach.  Everything I do tends to take a long time, since I spend time trying to research (intellection) and carefully plan (learner) everything – I am very unlikely to just “wing it”.


“Driven by your talents, you periodically interject highly technical language into your conversations — language that may be understood by a limited number of people… You might ask [people you work with] to create a specialized vocabulary for a particular venture.”

I do couch “normal” (ie, unrelated to science or math) concepts in terms of linear algebra terminology fairly often!  I also am a firm believer in clear communication, which is very much audience dependent.  One vocabulary needs to be used when communicating expert to expert, and a different one when reaching out to the general public.


“Because of your strengths, you place a premium on doing everything correctly. Whatever you are involved in or associated with must typify — that is, symbolize — accuracy and precision. Your high standards demand exactness.”

This strength is clearly of a different nature from the previous three, but intersects with them in an interesting way.  I think that “correctness” can be achieved through extensive research, preparation, and clear communication.  I expect it of myself, but I also expect it from others.

This is one of the places where I found the StrengthsQuest to be very valuable – the realization that the way that I do things isn’t the “right” way to do them, they are the way that my strengths lead me to do them.  I should be careful to not judge others (ie, my colleagues) harshly for not doing things “correctly”, where that inherently requires a certain level of preparatory research, reflection, and careful communication.  It is a little harder to see how to let go of that with students, where I think part of my job is to help them learn to do things correctly… but I need to reflect on this more!


“Sometimes you are one of the people who notices problems as they arise. Maybe you even figure out how to fix some of those problems.”

I found this strength theme very interesting – the full description included both external and personal problems.  I think this has a lot of synergy with the other four domains.  I do spend a lot of time reflecting on my personal skills (including how I interact with others) and then trying (through learning) how to improve aspects that I find problematic.  This is probably good, but extensive reflection and investigation and demanding precision sounds a lot like “perfectionism”.  Not only may I expect too much of myself, but I also find “problems” in external structures, policies, etc that others think can be left alone.