Starting the Year Strong Part 4: Book Reports & Strengths Building


There are a host of different ways we teach and talk strengths in our household. Given my profession, I have a lot to say about it. But one way we encourage our children to grow and develop is through book reports. We offer suggested titles authored by authors we respect and our teenage children choose the book they want to dive into. When they finish, they draft a book report to share with the family about what they learned.

While this may seem too academic and burdensome of a task for teens to willingly cooperate with, we have found our kids enjoy personal growth from a source other than their parents. Shocking, right? They are able to receive and apply wisdom from books far less defensively than when it comes from a parent’s lips. Book reports also foster a love for reading and enhance comprehension skills at the same time.

Our 15-year-old daughter Michaela recently wrote a book report on Let's Talk Strengths: Applying Your Strengths to Grow Stronger, Work Smarter, and Live Richer by Brent O’Bannon. Check it out below, and see what she discovered:

Report by Michaela Miller

Let's Talk Strengths by Brent O’Bannon was the engrossing book I just finished reading. I'd like to think of this book as more of a handbook with the instructions clearly laid out with the mechanics of how to apply your strengths to show a positive impact on your life. The book is very clear about how to apply your strengths to grow stronger, work smarter, and live richer... right on the front cover! I also learned about the four different domains of strengths, and after taking the StrengthsFinder test I found out which ones apply to me.

To grow stronger by applying your strengths you first need to understand your top strengths and their weaknesses. You +can identify your strengths by taking the StrengthsFinder test, then you can strengthen your mindset. Strengthening your mindset is all about overcoming fears, strengths blindness, and those limiting beliefs preventing you from moving forward. This mindset is basically focusing on your talents and what you do best, not what we can't do or can't do well. The third and final step is to maximize your strengths. Maximizing your strengths starts by turning your top five talent themes into world-class strengths. Since your top talent themes are your most common thoughts, feelings, and behaviors the goal of maximizing your strengths is to add knowledge, skills, and practice to your talent themes, then productively apply those talent themes to an activity you are energized about and want to be world class at.

To work smarter by applying your strengths, you have to use your strengths each and every day as a leader, thereby building the strengths culture around you. Using your strengths in a way that helps you work smarter by working with purpose, engaging your strengths, and overall working in ways that play to your strengths and crowd out your weaknesses. To strengthen your leadership, teamwork, and culture, the next element in working smarter is becoming a strengths-based leader. These leaders know how to maximize their own talents as well as the talents of those around them. From doing things this way, each person experiences more confidence and personal satisfaction on the job or project. Strengths-leaders create cultures of trust and compassion instead of tension and isolation.

To live richer by applying your strengths, you first need to monetize your strengths. Living richer means turning your strengths into money in some way. For example, this can be applied to marketing. A strengths-based marketing and sales approach can transform a business from surviving to thriving. The next way to live richer is to strengthen your customers. A strong business is based on loyal customer relationships. Securing customers depends on making an authentic, natural connection using your signature strengths.

Flourish in well-being is the PERMA(H) model. P stands for positive emotion, E for engagement, R for relationships, M for meaning, A for achievement, H for health.

The four main strengths domains are executing, strategic thinking, influencing, relationship building strengths. Within my top 12 themes, I have high talents in every category. In executing, I have discipline, achiever, focus, responsibility, and belief. People with executing strengths catch ideas and make them happen. They make others work harder, and they are good at getting the job done and less concerned with pleasing and getting along with people. In the strategic category, I have analytical and leaner themes. Strategic thinkers help others think smarter. Unlike other leaders with an executing style of leadership, these thinkers are actually looking backward and taking in information and data. In influencing, I have command, communication, competition, and significance. People with influencing strengths motivate faster, sell ideas, and help teams reach a broader audience. They can take charge, speak up, and make sure a group is heard. These kinds of people have an abnormal ability to influence, sell, and persuade. In the relationship I have individualization. Relationship strengths mean these people that help us care better, they are the glue of the team holding everyone together. These kinds of people have a lot in common with individuals who possess relationship-building strengths.

In conclusion after reading this book, it has made me realize the importance of not taking my strengths for granted and actually doing something with them to get maximum return. I now have a much better and clearer understanding of my strengths and how I can apply them to make a positive impact on my life. I also learned that if I embrace and develop my strengths, and not focus on my weaknesses and trying to fix them, I can get a lot farther and achieve a lot more.

Brandon Miller