Where do we excel?
The summer is drawing to a close, and I feel like I have a little bit of distance and time to reflect. I took on a tremendous amount on this term. I achieved many of my goals, but wound down the term feeling a little burnt out. Since my goal for school was to actually get away with giving it less of my time and attention (while maintaining a GPA that I was happy with), I won’t focus any more on that.
[Update: I just got my grades and this goal was a success. My GPA did not drop at all and I was able to devote much more time to other pursuits this summer. Feels good to celebrate a success!]
While completing the term, I put a lot of effort into setting up my coaching practice, and I have been regularly coaching a number of clients throughout the summer. We’ve had some great successes, and it’s been very inspiring to be a part of this process. As part of my goal, I’ve been undergoing coaching myself, and this has been a surprising journey.
Exploring things like what motivates me, how I derive value, and what my strengths and weaknesses are has been confusing and enlightening. Often both at the same time. One astounding insight I had was the realization that I’m an intuitive person. When I told my Mum, she said “Well, yah, wouldn’t you say that you’ve always been a very intuitive person?”. It’s funny, the most significant discoveries we make about ourselves are often those that are already obvious to everyone else. It’s taking me 32 years to come to this realization. I’m fairly certain I would have come to it eventually as time bore on, but through coaching, this process was vastly more efficient and my growth was accelerated.
One of the assessments that I undertook as a result of this ongoing process was from a book titled “Strengths Finder 2.0″, by Tom Rath. The book is pretty short, and is really just a compendium of the various strengths (as the author has chosen to categorize them). The real meat of the process comes from filling out a test online and then see what strengths are fed back to you. (Unlike the Myers-Briggs tests I did when I was in secondary school, this test had just shy of 200 questions, rather than 20).
Today, I’m sharing my own strengths, so that you can get a glimpse into what sort of things you can explore through coaching. Imagine if you could move yourself in a direction where we you were working with all of your strengths, instead of weaknesses. Wouldn’t everyone be better off in this situation? By working with a coach, we can all move in the direction of where we are our greatest and most authentic selves.
Let’s look at my results:
The strategic theme enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. It is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large. This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity. Mindful of these patterns, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking, “What if this happened? Okay, well what if this happened?”. This recurring question helps you see around the next corner. There you can evaluate accurately the potential obstacles. Guided by where you see each path leading, you start to make selections. You discard the paths that lead nowhere. You discard the paths that lead straight into resistance. You discard the paths that lead into a fog of confusion. You cull and make selections until you arrive at the chosen path — your strategy. Armed with your strategy, you strike forward. This is your Strategic theme at work: “What if?” Select. Strike.
My biggest take-away:
- Trust your intuitive insights as often as possible. Even though you might not be able to explain them rationally, your intuitions are created by a brain that instinctively anticipates and projects. Have confidence in these perceptions.
- This really lands home deeply with me. I can remember planning out social interactions and phone calls as a kid, thinking through what I would say if they said X. That was a bit extreme, and a coping mechanism that I’ve had to learn to overcome in order to remain present in an actual conversation, but it is illustrative of the way my brain works.
You love to learn. The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other themes and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process of learning. The process, more than the content or the result, is especially exciting for you. You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence. The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned, the growing confidence of a skill mastered — this is the process that entices you. Your excitement leads you to engage in adult learning experiences — yoga or piano lesson or graduate classes. It enables you to thrive in dynamic work environments where you are asked to take on short project assignments are are expected to learn a lot about the new subject matter in a short period of time and then move on to the next one. This Learner theme does not necessarily mean that you seek to become the subject matter expert, or that you are striving for the respect that accompanies a professional or academic credential. The outcome of the learning is less significant than the “getting there”.
My biggest take-away(s):
- Refine how you learn. For example, you might learn best by teaching; if so, seek out opportunities to present to others. You might learn best through quiet reflection; if so, find this quiet time.
- Be a catalyst for change. Others might be intimidated by new rules, new skills, or new circumstances. Your willingness to soak up this newness can calm their fears and spur them to action. Take this responsibility seriously.
- Mmmm, knowledge. Nothing surprising here. I know that I love challenge and growth. It’s pleasing to see that teaching is listed as a way of learning. Teaching has always been my favourite way to learn. If you’re looking for evidence, help yourself to a meaty serving of this blog’s archives.
Relator describes your attitude toward your relationships. In simple terms, the Relator theme pulls you toward people you already know. You do not necessarily shy away from meeting new people — in fact, you may have other themes that cause you to enjoy the thrill of turning strangers into friends — but you do derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends. You are comfortable with intimacy. Once the initial connection has been made, you deliberately encourage a deepening of the relationship. You want to understand their feelings, their goals, their fears, and their dreams; and you want them to understand yours. You know that this kind of closeness implies a certain amount of risk — you might be taken advantage of — but you are willing to accept that risk. For you a relationship has value only if it is genuine. And the only way to know that is to entrust yourself to the other person. The more you share with each other, the more you risk together. The more you risk together, the more each of you proves your caring is genuine. These are your steps toward real friendship, and you take them willingly.
My biggest take-away:
- You might tend to withhold the most engaging aspects of your personality until you have sensed openness from another person. Remember, building relationships is not a one-way street. Proactively “put yourself out there.” Others will quickly see you for the genuine individual you are, and you will create many more opportunities to cultivate strong, long-lasting connections
- (See: 1. This blog. 2. This experiment)
- I keep reading “Realtor” when I see Relator. I’ve never really considered my own social dynamics from this perspective. I’m getting better at meeting new people, but it’s definitely true that I like to dive deep and learn about people rather than being a social butterfly.
You like to explain, to describe, to host, to speak in public, and to write. This is your Communicator theme at work. Ideas are a dry beginning. Events are static. You feel a need to bring them to life, to energize them, to make them exciting and vivid. And so you turn events into stories and practice telling them. You take the dry idea and enliven it with images and examples and metaphors. You believe that most people have a very short attention span. They are bombarded by information, but very little of it survives. You want your information — whether an idea, an event, a product’s features and benefits, a discovery, or a lesson — to survive. You want to divert their attention toward you and then capture it, lock it in. This is what drives your hunt for the perfect phrase. This is what draws you toward dramatic words and powerful word combinations. This is why people like to listen to you. Your word pictures pique their interest, sharpen their world, and inspire them to act.
My biggest take-away:
- If you enjoy writing, consider publishing your work. If you enjoy public speaking, make a presentation at a professional meeting or convention. In either case, your Communicator talents will serve to assist you in finding just the right way to frame your ideas and state your purpose. You delight in sharing your thoughts with others, so find the medium that best fits your voice and message.
- Volunteer for opportunities to present. You can become known as someone who helps people express their thoughts and ambitions in a captivating way.
- Might be some more alternative career choices here…
Your world needs to be predictable. It needs to be ordered and planned. So you instinctively impose structure on your world. You set up routines. You focus on timelines and deadlines. You break long-term projects into a series of specific short-term plans, and you work through each plan diligently. You are not necessarily neat and clean, but you do need precision. Faced with the inherent messiness of life, you want to feel in control. The routines, the timelines, the structure, all of these help create this feeling of control. Lacking this theme of Discipline, others may sometimes resent your need for order, but there need not be conflict. You must understand that not everyone feels your urge for predictability; they have other ways of getting things done. Likewise, you can help them understand and even appreciate your need for structure. Your dislike of surprises, your impatience with errors, your routines, and your detail orientation don’t need to be misinterpreted as controlling behaviours that box people in. Rather, these behaviours can be understood as your instinctive method for maintaining your progress and your productivity in the face of life’s many distractions.
My biggest take-away(s):
- Others may confuse your Discipline talents with rigidity. Help them understand that your discipline helps you pack more effectiveness into a day — often because you prioritize your time. When working with others who are not as disciplined, ask them to clarify deadlines so you can adjust your workload to accommodate their requests.
- Timelines motivate you. When you have a task to complete, you like to know the deadline so you can plan your schedule accordingly. Apply your Discipline talents by outlining the step-by-step plan you will use. Others will appreciate your cues because they will help keep everyone “on task”.
I’m entering my third year of law school, and am currently trying to sort out exactly where I want to take the next phase of my life (along with Bay, of course). Career choices are available to me, and the real conflict that is starting to emerge is one that I’m well familiar with: Doing what “should” be done, or what I want to do? At the core of this conflict is the battle between doing what social pressure tells me to do and doing what I feel passionate about.
I know that my intuition is right, but now I have to figure out what that means, what the consequences of pursuing that path of action are, and how to explain what I feel to the other people that are affected by my decisions. I’m unwilling to make changes in my life that would affect the people I love without them being onboard, so it’s really important to me that I’m able to understand what I want to do and why I want to do it. Keep checking back and I promise I will provide updates. This is a journey that we all undertake, so I hope that by sharing my own insights, we can all grow a little bit.
I have been seeking inspiration for a while – I want to keep writing, but none of the blog ideas I’ve stored are jumping out at me. So help me out: post a comment or message me privately and suggest something for me to write about. We both win – you get to hear a different perspective on something that’s on your mind, and I get to know that there are people out there that think about the same things I do. And hey, we both get to learn!