INTELLECTION: My #1 “Strengths Finder” Strength

This is the first in a five-part series on Strengths Finder, a fantastic resource from Gallup that helps people realize their strengths. Our culture seems obsessed on exposing our flaws and weaknesses and how we can “improve” by altering or even reversing those traits.

But Strengths Finder is all about uncovering your innate strengths and building those virtues. Today starts my five-part journey toward doing just that.

A few weeks ago, if you were to have asked me about my #1 strength in life, I might have answered something typical/boring like writing. Or wandering. Or taking amusing pictures at Walmart. If you’d handed me the Strengths Finder book, I might have singled out belief or empathy as my #1 strength out of Strengths Finder‘s 34 possibilities.

But never would I have answered such a question with this single word: intellection.

Inte-what?? Is that even a real word? Why does WordPress give me the red squiggly line of disapproval for “intellection”? Wait — why does WordPress give me the red squiggly line of disapproval for “WordPress,” too?

I DON’T KNOW WHAT A REAL WORD IS ANYMORE. Maybe that’s why I just create my own.

Alas, after taking a 20-minute online questionnaire, Strengths Finder told me this red squiggly word, “intellection,” was my greatest strength in life.

Intellection: Strengths Finder

Intellection: What It Is

According to Strengths Finder, someone with the strength of intellection simply “likes to think.” He is very introspective and experiences a constant “mental hum.”

And while I had no idea “intellection” was even a word before this book, I have to hand it to Strengths Finder: I love to think.

True, I excelled academically while in school. I greatly enjoyed the work of school (not to be confused with the relationships of school). I loved studying for 400-question history finals and crafting the perfect research paper and doing Calculus homework everyone else despised.

But bachelor’s degree in hand, I’ve continued thinking far beyond the realm of academia. Indeed, I’ve thought about a lot these last 4 years.

Intellection: Implemented

A couple years ago I was in my car, and all I could hear was crackly static; my speakers had blown. At the time, this was tragic: how would I possibly function driving anywhere with death-cold silence as my only companion?

Despite being one of the greatest tragedies to befall my dear sweet Mitsy, I’ve yet to replace/repair those broken speakers two years later. Finances aside, do you know why I rarely even want to repair those speakers anymore?

I like the silence; I like having isolated time to think.

When I drive, I think about my schedule for the day; I think about my past; I think about how I actually moved from Georgia to California; I think about my aspiring career as an author and how I’ve finally written a book.

I think about my friends and their current struggles and needs.

I think, and I pray. I do a lot of praying when I drive. I suppose it just goes hand-in-hand with all that intellection. I pray for me, yes, but I also pray for others.

Which leads me to something I’d like to clear about my personality.

Intellection: What It’s Not

My Strengths Finder resources include an “action plan” to further each of my top-5 strengths. Among such practical prescriptions as “read more” and “write your ideas in a journal,” the action point that stood out most was this:

People may think you are aloof or disengaged when you close your door or spend time alone. Help them understand that this is simply a reflection of your thinking style, and that it results not from a disregard for relationships, but from a desire to bring the most you can to those relationships.

I often wonder what people think of me. If people could watch a 24-hour video-feed of my life, I’ve often wondered what they would think.

What would they think as I drive my car in utter silence?

What would they think as I spend 3, 4, 5 straight hours in a coffee shop?

What would they think as I journal beneath a tree in the park?

Would they think me odd? Would they think me reclusive? Would they think me “aloof” or “disengaged” with society?

I don’t want to be thought odd or aloof.

As I delve deeper into this Strengths Finder blogging series, I suppose this is my starting point: I care about relationships. I care very deeply about people, as some of my other top-5 strengths (harmony, empathy) hopefully emphasize.

Yes, I’m an introvert; yes, I need my solo getaway time.

But it’s when I’m separated from society that I recharge and refuel and return to community again.

I desperately need to be in community. We all do. I might just “do” community differently than others. Might take more time away from it than most.

But gosh do I care; I care so much. I hope y’all realize that, whether we’re best friends, good friends, family, or total strangers. I think about you, and I journal about you, and I pray for you.

I might appear disconnected, but I hope this post can illuminate your eyes as to just how much I care.

Intellection thoughts for "Strengths Finder"

INTELLECTION QUIZ: how much do YOU “think”? Do you ever drive places in silence? How appealing does an entire afternoon alone in a coffee shop sound? Friends, welcome to my world.

  • Rebecka

    You don’t seem disconnected to me, you seem perfectly normal! I mean, who doesn’t want to sit under a tree or in a coffee shop for hours and journal? 🙂 I “think” all the time too, sometimes I even lose track of time because I get lost in my own thoughts…

    • TMZ

      I’ve noticed I appear more “connected” via writings and digital words compared with my spoken words. Striving to “bridge the gap” between the written and spoken word, so to speak, in my relationships.

      Pretty sure I’ve lost track of time/life in my own thoughts on more than one occasion…

  • Logan81

    Input and Intellection are my top two strengths, and they fit me very well. I listen to the radio on short trips around town, but any time I’m driving more than an hour, it’s usually in total silence. I call it “exploring my brain,” where I just allow my thoughts to wander where they will and enjoy the process of thinking.

    And yes, I too enjoy hanging out at the coffee shop for hours, just me and a good book. It allows me to feed my desire for being around people, while still remaining alone enough to not overwhelm my inner introvert. 🙂

    • TMZ

      Thanks for your “input,” Logan! Input was my #3 strength. Can’t wait to blog about it soon, and I’d love your thoughts! I’m totally with you on car silence or reading in a coffee shop. ALL about it.

  • Surprise, surprise… Intellection is my #1, too!

    I definitely get the struggle of needing time alone to think yet not wanting people to think I don’t care. Good to know someone else understands 🙂

    • TMZ

      It’s such a balance: getting by yourself and staying in community. I’ve gotten better in recent months at letting people know I need my solitude in order to function. It’s good to consciously consider this fact moving forward, though.

      Have you taken Strengths Finder, Laura??

      • Yep! I took it this summer.

        I’ll be in suspense for the rest of yours. Haha.

        • TMZ

          OH MY GOSH I have input as my #3 too. I love Strengths Finder so much.

  • Ashley

    I concur. As you know, we share 4 of 5 top strengths so I’ll probably identify with a lot of what you say. I care a lot. I think a lot.

    • TMZ

      Ashley, I’d definitely be interested to hear your input on these analyses of my strengths! Whether you can echo the same sentiments as me or even chime in with a different view. That’s so crazy that we share 4 out of 5!

      • Ashley


        I definitely identified with a lot of what you said here, although I don’t tend to pray a lot in the car. I prefer to write when I pray, I think it’s mostly because I get less distracted that way. If I pray while driving or even just walking around or something, my thoughts quickly jump around and I end up on this long rabbit trail that is totally different from what I was praying about… Sometimes this can be good, because sometimes I am still praying, just keep switching gears (I’m sure God can follow), but often I “forget” I’m praying and begin to worry about the things I have to do or the conversations I should have or think about new ideas or things I want to do eventually or write about or study or whatever, etc. I start to plan those things instead. I don’t know if these at all have to do with intellection – certainly a few things, like thinking about new ideas, probably do.

        I also do not typically drive in utter silence (although it does not bother me one bit to do so). Often I have music playing, but I am rarely actually listening to it and instead am thinking about the above mentioned things, haha. The exception is that I often drive (longer roadtrips) listening to podcasts. Those I usually pay attention to, although often they cause me to think about other things too and I end up missing half of them. Sometimes I listen to them multiple times (if they seemed like they would be good) so I get to think about it all, haha!

        I love journaling, but I tend to do it in spurts.

        I definitely also concern myself (too much, probably) with what other people think of me – whether they find me aloof or disengaged, etc. I think a few years ago many would have said, if questioned, “yes, Ashley is a bit aloof”, but I don’t think as many would now – I have really come out of my shell in the last few years, But I do certainly still need my solitude from time to time!

        • TMZ

          Thanks for sharing your similar/different perspective on INTELLECTION, Ashley! I used to journal with such regularity, and lately it’s turned to “spurts” like you described. I definitely need to return to some regularity again. It’s good for my head and good for my soul.

  • MLYaksh

    Oh, I love thinking while driving. On long trips, I’ll turn off music and everything, taking time to think and pray. It’s wonderful.

    It is odd for me as an extrovert to always get my mind around introverts not wanting people time constantly. I get refreshing and refueling- but for me, that requires people. It helps to hear from the other side though that, while you may take more alone time than I do, you do it out of love for others. If anything, that’s a greater trait than being around people 24/7. I admire your dedication to doing that, Tom.

    Oh, and an afternoon in the coffee shop is always glorious!

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  • Hey, TMZ!

    First of all, I love this statement: “the red squiggly line of disapproval.” LOL!

    Second of all, I also have Intellection as my first StrengthsFinder theme. I was genuinely surprised finding out about that five years ago—I thought I was Analytical or something—but after reading through the theme description, I realize that it made perfect sense.

    A perfect day-off for me would include spending most of it in solitude and just reading, writing, or going online and still reading. Since I also have the Input (#2) and Learner (#3) themes, I really enjoy reading stuff, processing them, and storing them away for future use.

    However, too much alone time gets suffocating for me. I realize that I can only be alone up to a certain period of time. This is where my Connectedness (#4) theme goes into play. I’ll need to be around close friends, and share with them what I’ve learned for the day.

    Since I work as a copywriter for a non-profit, I realize that I can easily tune out the noise around me, especially when I need to focus. I guess having that “little world,” so to speak, helps me zero in on my work and accomplish my tasks efficiently.

    “I think, and I pray.” -> I could totally relate to this, too. Just like you, I think of my family and friends, and I think of me. My thoughts lead me to pray for others, and myself. It’s refreshing to do so, and I feel that praying for others is one way that I show my love for these people.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on your blog! 😀 looking forward to read more of your posts. 🙂

    • Hey there, Karess. Thanks for commenting! Loved reading the thoughts from a fellow #1 Intellection-er. I see a lot of similarities between you and me, especially with the Input strength and your Connectedness / my Harmony. Solitude is good and helpful, but we all definitely need relationships with others. For me, getting away from people gives me the time to recharge and refocus when I eventually rejoin them.

      Gosh, I find Strengths Finder so fascinating. So glad you posted your Intellection thoughts here. Enjoy the rest of my blog, and don’t be a stranger!

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