Monday, October 5, 2009

Book Review: Find your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham

The author of “Now, Discover your Strengths” (among other books) now directs his attention toward women with “Find your Strongest Life,” subtitled: what the happiest and most successful women do differently." Buckingham provides examples of successful and unsuccessful women and then provides a framework of roles (similar to strengths) to help women understand how they can work most successfully. He also offers a section on solutions to questions related to careers, relationships and kids.

I have to be honest, friends. I didn’t like it. I have read Buckingham’s previous books on strengths and consider myself a “strengths-person.” I believe in the strengths finder program and the idea that we should be working primarily to improve our strengths (not our weaknesses) and that we should try to operate in our strengths as much as possible. I’ve also heard him speak before and enjoyed it. So I am as surprised as you are about my lack of enthusiasm for this book. Here were my major problems with it: 1. It took too long to get to the solutions – I had to read almost 100 pages before the roles were identified. 2. The examples were unclear and too wordy. I read two chapters with no idea what characteristics I was supposed to be identifying in the main examples. And 3. It is 100% geared toward working women/mothers. I found little value here for the stay-at-home mother, and if I were a stay-at-home mom, I would get a sense that Buckingham would feel I am better used in the work world.

That being said – perhaps this book IS written for the working woman/mother. In that case, then it may be more readable and more helpful. I thought the roles that he assigns are interesting and I can see myself in some of them, and I thought that after he explained the roles, the examples were much more clearly articulated and easy to understand.

I took the strong life test twice and was disappointed in the test: 23 questions that often had no relationship to my life, but more importantly, the four options for answers generally did not encompass ANY of the responses I would have to those situations. Or I was forced to pick an answer when my real action would have been some combination of two. The first time I took the test, I think the roles assigned to me were the most like me. The second time, I answered 3 questions differently, I think and the roles were completely different and one was totally unlike me.

For your money, I would buy one of Buckingham’s book on the strengths instead.


Ray Hartjen said...

I like ol' Marcus. He's a smart dude and a very dynamic speaker. I haven't read this book, so I appreciate your insight. I get the sense from others that Marcus may have phoned this one in, milking the well dry in an effort to lengthen the revenue stream. Think I'll stick to his others :).

Thanks for the write up. Nicely done, particularly the examples/reasons.