The strength in having an opinion

The Collegian staff underwent its bi-yearly training in preparation for the 2016 Spring semester recently, and a part of this training was taking the Gallup Strengthsfinder.

For those of you who have had to endure one of the UC classes offered at SDSU, you most likely know what the Gallup Strengthsfinder is. But for those of you who do not know, the Gallup Strengthsfinder is a personal survey that shares your top five strengths.

Upon taking the test, my top five strengths according to this test are: Achiever, Futuristic, Individualization, Belief and Restorative. After reading the description for each of these strengths, I found myself being able to identify with certain pieces of each strength; however, I could not stop thinking that the descriptions for each strength are general enough that anyone can relate to it, and by taking a test like this, could it potentially cause someone to become biased about how they live their life?

Now a test like this is required to relate to millions of people, so it cannot be overly specific down to what an individual will be wearing each day of the week. Is it almost too general that it does not have a true impact? And are the questions in the survey too plain and shallow to really truly capture one’s true strengths?

And what if someone ends up getting assigned a strength that does not speak to them at all? Will that end up making them biased in how they start living their life compared to how they were living it before they took the test?

And are they supposed to believe that a test knows them better than they do?

After looking at the list of 34 strengths that one could potentially possess, I found myself relating more to some of the strengths that I did not get as compared to the ones I was given. For example, I believe I possess Empathy way more than I possess Belief. And I am sure that others have had the same feeling.

Where I am able to recognize the benefits of taking a test like this and how it can be a good starting point to eventually understand an individual, my criticism comes from the expectation that I am supposed to believe that a 45 minute survey can tell me who I am as a person better than I can myself.

I believe that much more goes into finding out who you are as a person than what this test can accurately measure, and it would be impossible for any test to do so. Thus, this is why I am not saying that the Gallup Strengthsfinder is bad. I feel it is a good starting place, but I personally take the results of any test of this sort with a grain of salt.

Essentially, I trust in myself and loved ones to tell me who I am more than a survey. However, I will never claim to be one who has the right to dictate what makes one feel found and helps them understand themselves, for that is something that is above any mortal man.

Jordan Bierbrauer is the Opinion Editor of The Collegian and can be reached at [email protected]