Book Notes: Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham

I have been a Marcus Buckingham devotee for years. As you may recall, he is the one who started the “strengths revolution” with the New York Times bestseller, Now Discover Your Strengths. This month we will publish Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently. In a moment, I will tell you how to get a copy FREE if you are a blogger.

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I have worked hard to incorporate Marcus’ principles into my own personal development and leadership philosophy. In fact, we have built it into our performance reviews at my company, Thomas Nelson.

In all of Marcus’ work, his basic premise is this:

Most of us were taught by our parents and teachers that the secret to success is improving our weaknesses. As it turns out, this is completely wrong-headed. You can focus on your weaknesses all you want, but you will likely only make marginal improvements. However, if you will focus on your strengths—those things that you are naturally good at and come easily to you—you can make huge strides. In fact, when you do so, you will be more happy and fulfilled. Not only that, you will make your greatest contribution to the world.

In Find Your Strongest Life, Marcus applies this basic message to women. As a man, why would this interest me?

  • I am married.
  • I have five daughters.
  • I have 200+ female employees.
  • My company owns Women of Faith, a conference ministry that has 300,000+ attendees per year.

The bottom line is that I want to help all these women discover their strengths, become more fulfilled in life, and make an even bigger impact on the world.

But here’s the crazy thing. Based on what you watch on TV and read in magazines, you would think that modern women already have it figured out. Since the feminist movement was launched four decades ago, women have secured better job prospects, greater acknowledgement for achievement, wider influence, more free time, and higher salaries. (Marcus documents all of this in his book.)

And yet, several recent studies reveal that women have gradually become less happy than they were 40 years ago—and less happy than men. And while the research indicates that men get happier as they age, women, by contrast, grow sadder as they get older. Does this mean that women should return to a world of fewer choices and opportunities?

“No,” says, Marcus, but they must discover the unique role they were designed to play and stop trying to conform to everyone else’s expectations. In the book, Marcus reveals:

  • Ten common myths about women
  • The paradox of declining female happiness—at work and at home
  • Why the “juggler” metaphor is inadequate and disempowering
  • The characteristics of a strong life and the quest for strong moments
  • An online diagnostic tool to determine the role you were born to play
  • Specific strategies for understanding and maximizing each of the nine roles
  • How to intentionally imbalance your life and move toward your strengths
  • Tactics for producing a stronger career, stronger relationships, stronger kids, and a stronger future

I found the book thoroughly compelling. Gail and I were traveling home yesterday, so I had hours of uninterrupted time to read. I finished the book by the time we touched down in Nashville. Throughout the day, I kept saying to her, “You are going to love this book.” Or, “You are going to want to give this book to the girls” (our daughters). Or, “Oh my gosh, you will definitely want to give this book to _______” (one of her friends).

The bottom line is that if you are a woman, I think you will find this book life-changing. I know that’s a big claim, so as the publisher, I am prepared to offer you a money-back guarantee. If you buy this book and don’t think it was everything I have described, you can mail me a copy of your receipt, and I will promptly refund your money. No questions asked.

If you are a blogger, you can also get a free copy of the actual book. If you are not already signed up as one of our Book Review Bloggers, you need to do that first. Then you can request a copy of the book. We are making 300 copies of the book available to bloggers. However, these will go quickly. Guaranteed.

Questions: If you are a woman, do you think you are more happy or less happy than you were 10 or 20 years ago? If you are a man, do you think your wife is more happy or less happy than you were 10 or 20 years ago? Be honest. (Also, be anonymous if necessary.)
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  • Megan Strange

    Thanks Mike for making so many great books available for bloggers to review!

    • Michael Hyatt

      You're welcome. I couldn't be happier with our blogger review program. I love sharing books with people I know have influence!

  • Christine

    Personally, I am happier than I have ever been. My children are in elementary school so that has freed me to pursue my professional life in a more rewarding way. My husband enjoys not having to carry 100% of the financial responsibility for our lives and I enjoy contributing. Our family is in one of those great points where you wish you could hit the "freeze" button and stay here longer. But I do want to read this book because I have been thinking a lot about focusing on strengths and not weaknesses and I want to hear what he has to say.

  • Hans Schiefelbein

    Michael – thanks again for offering books via the blogger review program. I think it would be interesting to hear how the blogger review program is going from your perspective, or would that not be something to share publicly for competition's sake?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I probably wouldn't want to do a blog post. But my competitors are already imitating us. In fact, we are thinking about opening up our review program to other publishers. It sounds crazy, but think about it. If you start with the customer first (in this case the blogger), it makes perfect sense. Wouldn't it by nice to have a one-stop site to request review copies of books?

      • Vicki Small

        I learned of another, much smaller, Christian publishing company, a few months ago. I can't remember, now, who they are, but after checking out the staff info' available on their website, I sent an e-mail to one of them. I identified myself as a TN brb, told the basics of how the program works, and offered to serve in the same capacity for them. Never heard from them. Maybe they're too small to think they can afford to give away books–? I know I have read books I would probably never have seen, let alone read, without the brb program, and I'm glad to have the opportunity both to read and to write about them. Thanks so much for leading the way with this program!

      • Hans Schiefelbein

        Thanks for the info – very interesting about the competitors. I guess it would make sense b/c it's not like you can publish a competitor's book after it's already out… so why not review all books and promote all books in one place. Is that the idea? There's a Jim Collins Good to Great idea in there somewhere…

  • Rebecca Stuhlmiller

    The book sounds great. I have “Go Put Your Strengths to Work” on my reading pile. I skimmed it a couple of years ago.

    I am definitely happier than I was 10 and 20 years ago. Every day is awesome. I started relentlessly pursuing my “strongest life” about 10 years ago, living intentionally, and it’s become a fulfilling adventure. No matter what comes, I’ve found the formula to keep going and keep growing. And it’s my mission to help other women find it too. Looking forward to reading this book!

  • NanaHG3

    I am excited to read this book. As a working mother of 3 young kids I find there are days when I wonder what in the heck I'm doing. I need to put in more time at work, but there's homework to help with and never-ending laundry (not to mention the dust bunnies running rampant in the corners). And forget PTA – not gonna happen! I feel guilty because I can't come to activities and the kids can't participate in the after school stuff they want to. And let's not talk about the guilt laid on me by work when, heaven forbid, one of the kids gets sick or I need time off to take them to get shots or something!) I love working, but I do often feel as if I'm failing at both somehow! Thanks for the review Michael!

    • Michael Hyatt

      This book will be perfect for you!

  • Joanne

    I am definately happier than I was 10 years ago. A huge part of it was asking God what He wanted me to be doing. Through a serious illness, I realized that I want to be intentional about how I spend my life. I want each day to count. He was faithful to answer my prayers and has shown me specifically what commitments to have and where to spend my time. Right now it involves my children and learning my craft – writing.

    • Michael Hyatt

      That's a great way to start.

  • Vicki Small

    Darn. I went to your website to request the book for review, but the "have to" date would almost certainly be unworkable for me. First, it usually takes a couple of weeks for me to get a book I've requested; then I have limited time, each day, for reading. Ordinarily, the time between getting this book and October 5 would be no problem, but I will be making three trips out of town between September 24 and October 13, with limited access to the Internet. So will the book not be available for review, otherwise?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I responded to you privately with a solution.

      • Vicki Small

        A good one, too! Thank you! :)

  • Anne Lang Bundy

    As I continue to mature, spiritually and personally, I learn what things aren't important and let them go, and place greater emphasis on matters of more significance. Doing so comes at a cost, as Christ said it would in our learning to share His sufferings.

    Compared to ten years ago, I experience both deeper sorrows and more frequent joys now. Overall, I am more content—and more impatient for heaven.

  • Anne Lang Bundy

    P.S. I am requesting Find Your Strongest Life to review it.

  • Sandy

    Absolutely happier. Although I would use the word content more than happy. About two years ago I realized one day that I was for the first time in my life content. It wasn't that we had arrived financially or didn't have any concerns – in fact, as a pastor's wife life is always challenging! I think it comes from knowing who I am, finding my purpose in life, age, experience and most important, faith. Happiness in some ways seems a bi-product of contentment.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I agree with you on contentment. Joy is another distinction that is different from happiness.

  • cks

    At the age of 52, I am the happiest I have ever been. It feels good to have the children out of high school and on to pursue their education and careers. It's also nice to have less laundry, eat out more, more free time to read and pursue my own interests that were often put on hold while parenting, and to use a portion of free time to give back to others. Getting older gives a valuable perspective to life's ups and downs and the vision to often see God's purposes in allowing many of the difficult circumstances in our lives. So far, I am not yet a grandparent. However, I understand and can only imagine the joys that grandchildren will bring. I'm loving every season of life as it comes and goes. God has been good to me!!

  • Ron Edmondson

    Michael, as a pastor, I think this is a valuable book. Many women need help discovering their strengths and finding contentment in life. Having become a fan of the Strengths Finder assessment and learning that my strengths also have a weakness within the organizational context (I recently posted about this) I believe there is valuable information contained within this work. I know there are so many women (and men) who are desperate to find the balance that gives them satisfaction in work and home.

    Thanks for making this available. Is there a men's version in the works?

    Ron Edmondson

  • Vicki Small

    Huh! I went to and pulled up their page for this book. It correctly states that the book is available for pre-order, and yet, 14 reviews already appear. "How is this possible?" I asked myself. Silence reigns.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Vicki, actually, I am not sure myself. I will check and get back to you.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I found the answer. The only way a title can have reviews before it is released is if the publisher has submitted it to Amazon's Vine program, which we did for Find Your Strongest Life.

      If you look at each of the reviews, the review indicates this in green text before the review. Vine reviewers are a select group of Amazon's top reviewers.


  • Debbie

    Ten years ago, I was still recently out of college and starting my own business–which is a lot of work and stress, no matter how fulfilling. Twenty years ago, I was in Middle School and teased by just about everyone at school. I can safely say I'm very happy now, and much happier than 10 or 20 years ago.

  • alisa

    I'm excited about reading the book! I signed up as a Thomas Nelson book reviewer (based from my personal blog).

    I am WAY happier now at 32 than I was at 22. Twenties are already hard because you are on proving/learning ground. However, I know that my happiness is based on one thing: my obedience to God. I was not always happy about where He was leading me, but I can look back and say, "Now, I understand!" He is always trustworthy!

  • Sher

    I'm happier than 10 and 20 years ago, but sometimes still wonder what my purpose is (continuing to seek the Lord for that). I've read one book by Marcus, and am very much looking forward to this new one. I'll be watching the bookstores for it! Thank you for the advance preview. :-)

  • KarlaAkins

    I don't know that I'm happier or unhappier. I think I'm surprised to find myself where I am. This might sound strange, but I really thought Jesus would be back before I became a grandma, so I am really, really kind of shocked to find myself in the grandma place! I never expected it. (I am 48 years old.) As for the women's movement making changes, I think it also created a lot of role confusion. Couple that with what some of the more conservative Christian movements preach, and you really have some chaos in the hearts of women. I was raised by a father who never, ever limited me as a woman. He never told me there was anything I couldn't do. He expected me to go to college and was rather surprised when I became a mostly stay at home mom who homeschooled her kids (out of necessity).

    As for the new Buckingham book — I am eager to read it! I can hardly wait! I love Marcus Buckingham materials and am looking forward to learning more from him.

    I did go to his website and I took the test. I don't know if I agree with it completely but in some ways it is spot on. So I am eager to read the book and learn more about what it means.

    Thomas Nelson is becoming my favorite publisher. Before I became a review blogger I had no idea of the depth and width of the books they offer the public. I am impressed and am excited about what's coming next! Thanks, Michael Hyatt!

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  • patriciazell

    What makes me happiest now is looking back over my life and realizing that God has made good out of all that my family and I have been through. I would not be as effective today had I not walked through the tough trials of yesterday. I thank God for His faithfulness as He has given me the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to walk in His absolute love and to experience the victory of good.

  • Kathy Marotta

    I am definitely happier than I was 10 or 20 years ago, although I don't find the path quite so linear. It's more like a sine curve, for me. ;) However, as I have grown, mostly spiritually, I have discovered my happiness seems to be in direct proportion to the increase in my faith and that comes sometimes from the valley of the curve. As I decrease, He increases and my faith follows suit.

  • Kathy Marotta

    Regarding my strengths, I very much believe we have been misled by the ways of the world – to focus on our weakness and attempt to enlarge our capablities in that arena. It wasn't until I became a parent, I realized how uniquely we are all made and our shortcomings are just as much by design as our strengths, like squeezing a balloon. The air must go somewhere. Find the strengths and embrace them.

    Strengthfinders was life changing for me, in this regard. It not only helped me discover my own strengths, but it has helped me discern those strengths developing in my child and celebrate them. I am more comfortable now with information I have accumulated about my unique brain function, personality, and strengths, and honoring and cultivating those than all the time wasted on self reflection for not measuring up to impossible expectations set by voices of this world.

  • Kathy Marotta

    I have changed dramatically from who I was 20 years ago and am finally beginning to live out my dreams because of it. I am so looking forward to reading this book. It sounds like the next step in a joyous journey which has unfolded like a breathtaking vista around the corner of an unexpected adventure to places unknown. Thanks for sharing, Michael!

  • Gary

    I thorough enjoyed Now Discover Your Strengths. One of the most powerful principles from the book is learning to focus on things that you can be extraordinary at.
    I'm looking forward to getting his new book for my wife.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Great. I think she will enjoy it. I am at the point where I am seeing Gail come into her own. She is more confident and making a huge contribution. I am doing my best to focus on affirming her strengths.

  • Nikki

    Yes I am happier now than 10 years ago. Life was so much harder back then. I was single mom with 2 kids and no hope. flash forward God put perfect man into my life and now we have 3 kids! God is good!

  • Angela Breidenbach

    I'm looking forward to reading this book. I was actually praying about focus and God's plan for my purpose today. My goal is to stay as close to God's plan for me as is humanly possible.

    Now for your question…I am much happier at this point in my life than I've ever been. I'm 45 and finally going after my life purpose with gusto. Ten years ago I'd daydream, but try to make everyone else happy while raising 6 kids. Twenty years ago I lacked the confidence and sense of self to feel I had the ability to go for the gusto.

    There's something about being in my forties that has opened up a new world of satisfaction, discovery, and adventure. I feel I have something to share with the world and want to eek every possible ounce of living out of every second. I hope to be able to leave a legacy of love by teaching confidence, joy, and life purpose to others.

  • terripatrick

    Happier then 10 years ago? Personally, yes, in my life – that happiness quotient is open for debate. My husband was in a major car accident 7 years ago. it's been a journey for me, to watch him not be – who he was – yet not become addicted to pain meds. Who he is now, is nothing less than a miracle in relation to what happened. And who he could be…

  • Michelle

    Thanks for thinking about how to empower women and Christian women specifically. What a breath of fresh air to read your post today! :) I will check out the book!

  • Liz

    Sounds like a great book. The Book Review Bloggers program also sounds really cool – I signed up and I hope to be able to participate in this go 'round.

    Being that I am in my late 20's, I'm not sure if I have enough life experience under my belt to adequately answer your question to women. I do know that I struggle with a sense of balance sometimes, but overall I am pretty happy.

  • Chrystie

    Wow! Willing to make a money back guarantee…I am impressed. Definitely will look into buying this book, if the blogger copies are already gone! Thanks for the BRB program! It has been a pleasure to be a part of it.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I am glad you are enjoying it.

  • Cassandra Frear

    The principle of concentrating on and leveraging our strengths is exactly what I teach homeschooling mothers to do for themselves and for their high school students. This is the way to productivity and satisfaction with our work.

    Intriguing. I will have to get a copy of the book and read it. Who knows? It may end up on my blog alongside my other books I have enjoyed.

    • Michael Hyatt

      If only ALL teachers would take this approach!

  • jennifervdavis

    I don't know that I'm happier, but I would say my life is more full, more complete. Ten years ago, I was having the time of my life in college. I had just begun dating the man who would become my husband. I was narrowing my focus of study and full of idealism as one getting ready to start student-teaching. Now, I am married with a 3 1/2-year-old, 2-year-old, and 4-month old. Life is definitely different!

    God is showing me how to find myself in the midst of my devotion to my family. I stay at home with my children and wouldn't have it any other way, but at times, I miss the intellectual challenge of working outside the home. With a prompt from my husband and friend, I have begun blogging and writing and trying to pursue a career in this field while being the mother and wife I want to be.

  • Sherrie Snyder Lord

    I fit the statistic; I'm definitely less happy than I was years ago. I had an accident that changed my health 11 years ago. If nothing else, I'm still trying to adjust to that.

    But in analyzing it, I know I evaluate myself based on performance — how many words I wrote that day, how clean my house is, how many times I cook dinner that week. I concentrate on improving my weaknesses, when it would seem I should focus on my strengths.

    Mr. Buckinham states, women "must discover the unique role they were designed to play and stop trying to conform to everyone else’s expectations."

    Guilty as charged! This has been an emotional summer as I've worked to tear out of that ill-fitting costume I've been wearing. But it's scary. And so many times, in so many ways, I catch myself almost sliding backward into that "safe" character I created of myself. I air it out, test it out, on my blog, but it's a risk, experimenting in public where all can see.

    It's about time somebody addressed this issue. Bravo!

  • CanCan

    This sounds like a great read…like most people, I am haunted by my weaknesses too!

  • Ron Edmondson

    Michael, as a pastor, I think this is a valuable book. Many women need help discovering their strengths and finding contentment in life. Having become a fan of the Strengths Finder assessment and learning that my strengths also have a weakness within the organizational context (I recently posted about this) I believe there is valuable information contained within this work. I know there are so many women (and men) who are desperate to find the balance that gives them satisfaction in work and home.

  • Monika Miko

    Good stuff! I am thankful to say that I am MUCH happier than I was 10 years ago. Why? Not coincidentally Marcus's "Trombone Player Wanted" has a lot to do with it. The last two years of my life allowed for much change career-wise that resulted in a lot of freedom and consequently knowing the heart of God deeper. Funny how He has been honoring my heart all along, it was me who was leaning on the wisdom of men and almost apologetic for the fire He was developing on the inside of me. It took a lot of courage to let go of a lot of things before I could even be in a clear enough place in my own head to enter into something new. Marcus's books give people permission in a sense to stick their heads out and explore possibilities. Who knows what's around the corner? :)

  • Alex


    I just signed up for the blogger program–what a great idea! I didn't see the book you described above in the "request a book" link, but I'd love to read and write a post about it.



    • Michael Hyatt

      Alex, unfortunately, they go quickly. We offered 300 copies of this book. They were gone in less than 30 minutes.

  • Tracy McIntyre Anderson

    Happier is such a random thing…its an emotion that comes and goes….it can lie- it can be created-and can be very temporal. I feel that as I have aged and now approach 40 that I am satisfied and that makes me happy. I see more maturity in my decisions and see my emotional investments starting to pay off, if you will…and that makes me satisfied which therefore makes me happy….