Strengths Stories

Strengths and Solitaire

First, in case there are any writers who’ve found their way to this page, I will once again be doing Strengths coaching as part of Becca Syme’s Advanced Strengths for Writers class in June. It starts June 19, so if you want to dive in to how your top ten Strengths apply to your writing, this is the class to you. It includes three one-on-one sessions as well as some very good class materials. I really enjoyed the class we did in April/May and am looking forward to doing it again.

But the reason for this post is not writing-related. It’s about solitaire of all things.

Earlier this month my mom encouraged me to start playing in the Microsoft Solitaire Collection solitaire tournaments. (If you have a current version of Windows you probably have access to this. Don’t access it on the web unless you want your browser to freeze repeatedly.) They happen every other day and there are usually about 30 solitaire challenges to complete.

You can see how you ranked against a random group of 100 other players as well as the top 100 players in the world. And as you work your way through the tournament they give you little awards. So a tournament might come with the chance to win 10,000 points if you complete it, but at each 1,000 points you get a little crown.

And what fascinates me about this from a Strengths perspective is the difference between how my mom and I approach it.

For me the tournament is like a task list. Here are the 30 things you need to accomplish today. Go.

That’s my Achiever at work, right? You’ve assigned me my tasks and now I must complete them.

The little awards pop up and I close them down right away because I don’t care about getting an award for earning 1,000 points. Until I’ve finished all 30 games I’m not done.

I do glance at the leaderboard to see where I’m ranked, but it’s not a motivator for me. I can’t remember from one day to the next what I ranked or how many top 10, top 25, or top 50 crowns I have. That doesn’t drive me.

My mother on the other hand–who has not taken the Strengths test because she doesn’t enjoy being put into buckets so I don’t know her actual Strengths–always knows what her rank was the day before. And she knows what her best overall rank is. She also loves those prizes. She knows exactly which ones she’s received and how many of them she’s received. (I suspect she has high Competition.)

So we both play the tournaments each time they’re available and we both try to do the best we can on them, but for vastly different reasons. This is how Strengths play out in the real world. Two people can accomplish the same goal, but for vastly different reasons.

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