Tom Rath

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Tom Rath, 2015

Tom Rath (born 1975) is an American consultant on employee engagement, strengths, and well-being, and author. He is best known for his studies on strengths based leadership and wellbeing and synthesizing research.


  • Instead of celebrating what makes each child unique, most parents push their children to "fit in" so that they don't "stick out."
    • Tom Rath & Donald O. Clifton (2004) How Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life. p. 36
  • Perhaps the ultimate test of a leader is not what you are able to do in the here and now - but instead what continues to grow long after you're gone.
    • Tom Rath & ‎Barry Conchie (2009), Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow.
  • Well-being is about the combination of our love for what we do each day, the quality of our relationships, the security of our finances, the vibrancy of our physical health, and the pride we take in what we have contributed to our communities. Most importantly, it's about how these five elements interact.
    • Tom Rath, ‎James K. Harter & ‎Jim Harter (2010), Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, p. 4

StrengthsFinder 2.0, 2007


Tom Rath (2007), StrengthsFinder 2.0, Gallup Press.

  • Overcoming deficits is an essential part of the fabric of our culture. Our books, movies, and folklore are filled with stories of the underdog who beats one-in-a-million odds. And this leads us to celebrate those who triumph over their lack of natural ability even more than we recognize those who capitalize on their innate talents. As a result, millions of people see these heroes as being the epitome of the American Dream and set their sights on conquering major challenges. Unfortunately, this is taking the path of most resistance.
    • In: Tom Rath, "The Fallacy Behind the American Dream," Business Journal, Feb. 8, 2007 (Excerpted from StrengthsFinder 2.0)
  • The reality is that a person who has always struggled with numbers is unlikely to be a great accountant or statistician... This might sound like a heretical point of view for those of us who grew up believing the essential American myth that we could become anything we wanted. it's clear from [our] research that each person has greater potential for success in specific areas, and the key to human development is building on who you already are.
    • As cited in: Marsha Blackburn (2008), Life Equity. p. 30
  • At its fundamentally flawed core, the aim of almost any learning program is to help us become who we are not... From the cradle to the cubicle, we devote more time to our shortcomings than to our strengths.
    • As cited in: Patrick Hollingworth (2016), The Light and Fast Organisation. p. 156
  • Hector had always been known as a great shoemaker. In fact, customers from such far-off places as France claimed that Hector made the best shoes in the world. Yet for years, he had been frustrated with his small shoemaking business. Although Hector knew he was capable of making hundreds of shoes per week, he was averaging just 30 pairs. When a friend asked him why, Hector explained that while he was great at producing shoes, he was a poor salesman -- and terrible when it came to collecting payments. Yet he spent most of his time working in these areas of weakness.
So, Hector's friend introduced him to Sergio, a natural salesman and marketer. Just as Hector was known for his craftsmanship, Sergio could close deals and sell. Given the way their strengths complemented one another, Hector and Sergio decided to work together. A year later, this strengths-based duo was producing, selling, and collecting payment for more than 100 pairs of shoes per week -- a more than threefold increase.
While this story may seem simplistic, in many cases, aligning yourself with the right task can be this easy. When we're able to put most of our energy into developing our natural talents, extraordinary room for growth exists. So, a revision to the "You-can-be-anything-you-want-to-be" maxim might be more accurate.
  • In: Tom Rath, "The Fallacy Behind the American Dream," Business Journal, Feb. 8, 2007 (Excerpted from StrengthsFinder 2.0)

Quotes about Tom Rath

  • IT is one of the most common themes of books, television shows and movies, and it is a central part of conventional wisdom: If you are willing to spend enough time overcoming the obstacles in your path — if you practice enough jump shots, or study hard enough, or make enough sales calls — you have the potential to achieve anything.
Many managers believe in this idea with all their heart. But the problem with taking the path of most resistance is multilayered: It is difficult, it can keep you from succeeding at your true calling, and it is extremely unlikely — despite what the folklore tells us — to lead to great success.
That, in a nutshell, is the argument of Tom Rath in “StrengthsFinder 2.0” (Gallup Press, $19.95) the follow-up to the Gallup best seller “Now, Discover Your Strengths.”
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