Based on Anton's recommendation, I picked up a copy of Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. That Anton found it interesting and useful told me that I would probably also appreciate it. My assumption has been proved correct.
Knowing one's strengths and weaknesses is very important, whether it be in competition or personal life or professional life. For me, I know that one of my weaknesses is tending to be somewhat negative, cynical, and sarcastic. This trait, when combined with my tendency toward incessant questioning, can be terribly off-putting. It also, however, can make it difficult for me to see my own strengths. As a good friend of mine has pointed out on numerous equations, life is generally pretty good, if only I'd look at it that way.
I took the online assessment, and here's what I found:
My Top 5 Strengths
Without getting into too much detail (and potentially violating copyright), here's what this means:
* Strategic - I thrive on solving problems, answering questions, innovating, creating, and so on. And, to be quite honest, this is very true. I love to research questions or inkling ideas and generate them into big ideas and breakthroughs. What I'm not very good at - and where I've noticed that I really bog down - is in implementing these big ideas. It seems that I find implementation nothing short of boring, for better or for worse.
* Ideation - Similar to the the Strategic trait, I thoroughly enjoy coming up with new ideas and projects. Moreover, I thoroughly enjoy communicating those ideas with others as well as entering into discussion on those ideas, and many other topics.
* Individualization - This strength speaks very well to be tendency toward asking lots of questions. I love to dig into the core of everything and everyone. Learning about people fascinates me, both from an interpersonal standpoint as well as from a philosophical and academic perspective. The interesting downside here is that I also tend to spend a lot of time focused on understanding my own failures, which I think correlates strongly with my tendency to be self-critical and self-effacing.
* Communication - This strength will come as no surprise to people who know me. If there's one thing I can do, it's communicate. Or over-communicate, as the case may be. In some of my friends, this can drive them completely up the wall. Sorry folks! :)
* Competition - The last strength here is interesting to me as my competitiveness is not something I generally keep on the radar. That being said, I certainly look at other people in the industry and think "wow, by my age they've already done X, Y, Z and yet I've only done A." The more that I ruminate about this finding, however, the more it seems to ring true. Analyzing myself in the context of competition provides some interesting insights. I think in many ways this is why Gracie Jiu-Jitsu appeals to me. It requires thinking through things in the face of competition. Until I can best my instructors, I won't feel fully accomplished. :)
I think the good news here is that I've been reminded that I have strengths. I highly recommend this book to others, and hope you'll find out interesting things about yourself, too. What I am now finding most interesting is how I use this information toward understanding the kind of career I would most prefer. It's a wonderful process, learning lots about oneself! :)