RESPONSIBILITY: My #4 “Strengths Finder” Strength

This is the fourth in a five-part series on Strengths Finder, a fantastic resource from Gallup. 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. I’ve already blogged about my #1 strength, INTELLECTION, my #2 strength, HARMONY, and most recently my #3 strength, INPUT. Now, the journey continues with my #4 strength: RESPONSIBILITY.

My first reaction to seeing responsibility among my top-5 Strengths Finder strengths went something like this:

Oh. Really? I mean, yeah, I guess so. Sure. But. But it’s just so. So. I dunno — boring.

Seeing responsibility in the #4 slot didn’t exactly prompt my fists to pump in exaltation. Obviously, responsibility is a good thing; I’ve been a responsible person since childhood. I know this.

But how is responsibility a strength to get — I don’t know — excited about?

Responsibility: "Strengths Finder"


According to Strengths Finder, those strong in responsibility “take psychological ownership of what they say they will do” and are “committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.” Other flattering, self-descriptive phrases included “impeccable ethics” and “utterly dependable.”

I know, I’m just so awesome.

Of all the overly flashy descriptions, that phrase “psychological ownership” really resonated. I feel like millions of people would consider themselves somewhat “responsible.” But would millions of people stake psychological ownership of every word and action taken?

It’s true, though: I can be a psychologically responsible nutcase sometimes.


The first things that come to mind when I consider my strength of responsibility are the predictable things: school, work, finances, etc.

In school, I rarely ever missed a homework assignment or forgot about a test. Good heavens.

In work, I’m never late, and I reserve the expression of any frustrations until after I officially clock out for the day. While on the clock, I’m all smiles and giggles.

With finances, I don’t spend unnecessarily. I’m what you would call one of those “good stewards.” If I have to borrow money from someone or “pay them back,” I will be burdened every waking moment until financial restitution is made.

And yet.

Once I’ve considered all those predictable aspects of my innate responsibility, I hit a facet of this responsibility that’s entirely more vital than all the others.

RESPONSIBILITY: Relationally Speaking

Above all else, I consider myself “psychologically responsible” in the realm of relationships. I am loyal to a fault — though it hasn’t always been that way.

If you and I are hanging out tomorrow at 12, I’ll be there at 11:30 just in case of traffic or, I don’t know, the Apocalypse. If we’re supposed to talk on the phone at that same time, I’ll text you 5 minutes before and let you know I’m officially freed from any shackles of other responsibility.

And so, following the trend of this blogging series, I give you the latest in a line of burdening Strengths Finder excerpts:

When people come to you for help — and they soon will — you must be selective. Your willingness to volunteer may sometimes lead you to take on more than you should.

This haunting daunting warning could refer to one’s work relationships and responsibilities, but there’s surely room for some personal carry-over. And, truthfully, I still don’t know quite what to make of these prophetic words. It’s heavy.

Basically: I feel so responsible when it comes to relationships.

Responsible for the good; certainly responsible for the bad.

But can I only be responsible for so much?

How much is too much?

Who much is too much?

Is there a limit to my responsibility? Numerical or psychological limits on who I can and cannot help?

Yeah, responsibility makes me think about jobs and school and money and all that wonderful jazz. But above all else, responsibility spurs thoughts of relationships. Intense soul-splitting thoughts.

I just feel so responsible in every relationship I have. Over the last year especially, I find myself often wanting to “catch up” with others, whether in person or on Facebook or via text or phone call or MySpace, or WHATEVER.

Over the last 26 years, I’ve learned the priceless value on positive relationships. Friendships that open vulnerably and run deep.

I’m increasingly burdened by the notion of losing touch with others. Friends.

I’d feel so awful if that happened — when it does.

It’s happened too much already.

And I feel so responsible.

And so. This post will, fittingly, usher the series-closing post on my #5 strength. The weightiest, most burdening strength of them all. The strength I intentionally saved for last.


Responsibility Notes: Strengths Finder

RESPONSIBILITY QUIZ: On a scale of 1-6, 6 being an overly committed nutcase and 1 being a total space cadet, how responsible are you? Does responsibility scare you? Thrill you? Where do you fall?

  • Ashley

    This strength is the only one that you and I, according to StrengthsFinder, do not share. However, this is one I was SURPRISED was NOT on my top 5 list (I’m willing to bet it’s number 6, ha. ha.). I identified with just about every word you wrote on this page.

    I, too, am utterly dependable – always early and loyal, almost to a fault. I also feel burdened when losing touch with friends, like I’m somehow responsible – even though I know most of the time I’m really not; relationships are a two-way street. You can count on me to be loyal, but if you don’t respond, eventually we will lose touch…and I will be sad.

    I’ve definitely had to learn how/when to say no in order to not take on too much responsibility that is not inherently mine. 🙂

    • TMZ

      It probably was #6. Haha. I kinda wish there was a way to see how all 34 strengths stacked up, but I understand that Strengths Finder doesn’t want you to focus on your weaker ones. Still, I’m always curious what my #6 strength or even what my #34 strength was.

      Anyway, it’s so cool to read your comments/perspectives from such a similar personality!

      • Ashley

        Yeah; I agree it would be cool to see all 34 stacked up, but do also see their reasoning for not doing that 🙂

        I’m pretty certain my last one is the one called “woo”. I’m not very good at networking, although that’s something I’ve had to try to grow a bit more lately trying to find a job and moving to a new-old city (I moved back to my hometown recently, but besides family and two friends I really did not know anyone here…).

  • MLYaksh

    I’m pretty sure I’m a 7 on that responsibility scale… If you recall, I do the same thing you do when it comes to calling or hanging out with someone.
    I have had to be very careful with what I take responsibility for. Like Strengths Finder said- it’s a psychological ownership. And I take ownership for pretty much everything around me. In school, I took ownership for the grades of anyone I tutored or helped. In relationships, I take ownership for any of that person’s troubles. It can get drastically unhealthy. I’ve had to work on boundaries in every area of my life. I hated it at first, but now I’ve come to learn their value. And, honestly, boundaries are a sign of responsibility- they show stewardship if done properly.

    • TMZ

      Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries…yet another facet of responsibility. Am learning that all too well right now.

  • Rebecka

    I’m starting to get scared, every time I read one of your Strengths Finder posts I feel like they’re written about me! I’m definitely an overly committed nutcase (new Twitter bio?). I am very much in the process of learning when responsibility is mine to take, and when it isn’t. It’s not easy, but I believe bot I myself and my relationships will become healthier and freer as I do.

    • TMZ

      Well, be VERY scared for my recap on empathy then! It’s gonna be a heavy one, I think.

  • Edward

    Interesting… sounds like it rings true…
    My 4th is context, which fits very closely.