Find Your Strongest Life is addressed to women, but it doesn’t have to be. With few exceptions, the principles are as equally applicable to men as they are to women.
Both sexes want to live strong lives; both want to feel connected to their purpose; both want to be loved.
But Marcus Buckingham specifically researched women. So he shares the commonalities he discovered among those who lived the most successful lives, and those who didn’t.
Myths about Women
He begins with ten myths about the lives of women and explains them throughout the book. They include:
As a result of having better education, better jobs, and better pay, women today are happier and more fulfilled than they were 40 years ago.
Women become more engaged and fulfilled as they get older.
If women had more free time, they would feel less stressed.
Having children makes women happier.
Women are good at multitasking, and it helps them get everything done.
According to his findings, as women get older, they get sadder (reverse for men). Why? He attributes much of it to too many choices for women. Women are more prone to juggling, trying to keep too many things going at once.
Free [yourself] from the confusing, overwhelming, regret-and-guilt-inducing illusion that you have thousands of possible “right” choices. You don’t. Look closely and you’ll see that only a very few choices actually honor your truth.
...Acceptance of who you are cures you of excess choice.
A strong life is the opposite of juggling. Buckingham says the secret to living a strong life is in managing fewer things at once, and being far more selective and discriminating about which things you’re choosing. Your time isn’t stretched; your attention is.
Don’t strive for balance; strive for fullness. Don’t overly invest in fixing your weak areas; play to your strengths. Don’t just live in the moment; search for the moment.
9 Life Roles
Buckingham identifies nine areas of strength to help you identify which is your Lead Role and your Supporting Role so you can give them focused attention. (Neglect is a strength-killer.) These Life Roles are:
In which areas do you excel? Buckingham offers a free quiz at StrongLifeTest.com to help you discover your answers.
Incidentally, your strong areas may not be the areas of your best performance. Neither are your weaknesses necessarily what you are bad at. Buckingham’s definitions are:
The proper definition of a weakness is:
“an activity that makes you feel weak.” It doesn’t matter how stellar your performance is, if the activity drains you, bores you, or makes you lose your concentration, it is a weakness.
A strength is “an activity that makes you feel strong.” It is an activity where the doing of it invigorates you.
Before you do it, you find yourself instinctively looking forward to it. While you are doing it you don’t struggle to concentrate, but instead you become so immersed that time speeds up and you lose yourself in the present moment. And after you are finished doing it, you feel authentic, connected to the best parts of who you really are.
So how do you find your passion? The author suggests you build it, not find it.
Start by giving yourself a break: no one finds her true passion. She starts with an inkling, a sense of something.
And she builds her passion by working hard, paying attention to how the different parts of the role make her feel, and by then taking the initiative to push her role gradually toward those activities that strengthen her.
A different perspective
I wonder how this book would have been different had it been written from a Christian perspective. The author’s suggestions for outward behaviors aren’t necessarily contradictory, per se, to Christ’s message, but they fall short.
Finding your strongest life takes on a much deeper meaning when you’re in Christ and has a totally different focus – off of yourself and on to Christ.
Your weaknesses can be your strengths (2 Corinthians 12:10). When you’re last, you’re first (Matthew 20:16). When you lose your life for his sake, you find it (Matthew 10:39).
Buckingham states that “having it all” means “taking yourself seriously. It means knowing yourself well enough to find your purpose in life.”
But “having it all” to a Christ-believer means taking Jesus seriously. It means knowing him well enough to find your purpose in life.
Then you will have it all. Not “all” in the world’s terms of success, but all in Christ. That success endures forever.
Overall, the book is still good. But if you read it, don’t stop there. Go deeper.
Find your passion in Christ. Strive for fullness in Christ. When you live your moments for him, you will live differently and will find your strongest life. In him.