PhotoI've always loved fortune cookies. Not the cookie part. The fortune part. In my wallet, I carry a few favorites:

"All your hard work will soon pay off."

"You have the exceptional ability to understand the fancies of marketable ideas."

You might say, "Artie, they are delivered to you by chance." I will
reply, "They have already come true." It's debatable whether all my
hard work has paid off, but I do understand the fancies.

Now Comes One Big, Fat Fortune Cookie
I am enjoying StrengthsFinder 2.0, a book-with-website that features a 20-minute online survey. This survey, backed by enormous research from The Gallup Organization,
reveals one's top five strengths. The entire list of strengths are
described broadly, as 34 themes, with colorful language, quotations
from similarly afflicted souls, and straightforward, practical
suggestions for amplifying each strength. (It's more complex than just
showing you five basic horoscopes. Gallup balances all your answers to
tailor the description of each strength.)

At first, it seems like one of those goofy magazine questionnaires
that reveals "Are you hot?" or "Does he love you?" (Let me save you
some time: you are, he does.)

Who Cares?

We all should care.
As the very short book
describes, our educational system is based on shoring up our
weaknesses. You can hear it in the way parents talk to children. And in
the way we talk to ourselves in the mirror. Sure, it's smart to learn
new things, but the Gallup folks say we spend way too much time and
emotion on our weaknesses. Poll shows: this leads to dissatisfaction at
work, in love, in life.

What's the cure? Find out what your strengths are and work on those. By focusing on our strengths, we achieve more and enjoy life more. And we are probably more lovable.

Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit. That's the meaning of life. And I'll be hog tied and horse whipped if it's not also my own experience.

I'll Show You Mine
If you want to know my strengths here they are.

We could quibble on the wording, but I think the analysis is
generally accurate. Yes, that's the defense of the horoscopes. But this
is The Gallup Organization, a 70-year-old, legendary research firm. If
can tell you what books you might like, based on buying patterns of
others, then Gallup can recognize your strengths based how others have
answered these questions.

Perhaps I should be more coy. Perhaps I shouldn't share my
strengths. But how can sharing my strengths with you hurt either of us?
Moreover, isn't that the idea: that we might rely on each other's strengths? Seems like I should express them. So, really, here they are.

Of course, what if Gallup introduces WeaknessesFinder 2.0 and I learn that my five greatest weaknesses are: ice cream, constant partial attention, Ohio State Fair, applause, and lust in my heart? Well, then, I'm sure as hell not going to tell you.