Saturday, March 10, 2012

Continued Lessons on Self-Awareness

“You've always been what you are. That's not new. What you'll get used to is knowing it.”

- Cassandra Clare

As many of you know, I'm a people person. Through and through. In just the past couple of weeks, I've been having a few more "ah-ha" moments about how this shapes who I am and how it impacts other people. As a former employee of Gallup, I have learned and come to understand the importance of leveraging my strengths. But until recently, I've seemed to forget that I can use my strengths to have an intensely positive impact on the world around me.

If you've never taken the Gallup StrengthsFinder test, I recommend it. When I took this test 2 1/2 years ago, I wasn't necessarily surprised about what they identified as my top 5 strengths. In fact, I laughed out loud with each sentence, wondering how something could be so spot-on. All of my top 5 strengths are people-related. And just last night I was talking with a friend, wondering if my job is really making an impact - because at the end of the day, sometimes I feels like all I'm doing is selling clothes to people. And in the past year, this has become less and less important to me. Recovering shopaholic, remember? But in re-reading these strengths this morning, I realized that maybe I am making an impact. In my current role, I am a teacher and an encourager. And this job is teaching me how to refine those skills to help me continue to grow. As a business person, and just simply as a human being.

This post is in part to share my top 5 strengths, as identified by Gallup. But it is also a reminder to myself to take a step back and really remember who I am, and that I was created this way on purpose. God knit me in the womb, knowing I would be a crazy, intensely passionate redhead, knowing I would snort when I laugh, knowing I would care deeply and intimately about the people around me. He knew that I would be positive to a fault - desiring for my glass to be overflowing every second - that I would be impatient, that I would desire to get to know every human being I meet on an intimate level, and that I would want to carry the burdens of others who are hurting.

I don't have this all down, I'm learning each and every day. But this journey I am on is unique, exciting, and filled with adventure.

So leverage your strengths. Discover what sets you on fire. And then go spread it everywhere you go.

My Top 5:

1. Activator

"When can we start?" This is a recurring question in your life. You are impatient for action. You may concede that analysis has its uses or that debate and discussion can occasionally yield some valuable insights, but deep down you know that only action is real. Only action can make things happen. Only action leads to performance. Once a decision is made, you cannot not act. Others may worry that "there are still some things we don't know," but this doesn't seem to slow you. If the decision has been made to go across town, you know that the fastest way to get there is to go stoplight to stoplight. You are not going to sit around waiting until all the lights have turned green. Besides, in your view, action and thinking are not opposites. In fact, guided by your Activator theme, you believe that action is the best device for learning. You make a decision, you take action, you look at the result, and you learn. This learning informs your next action and your next. How can you grow if you have nothing to react to? Well, you believe you can't. You must put yourself out there. You must take the next step. It is the only way to keep your thinking fresh and informed. The bottom line is this: You know you will be judged not by what you say, not by what you think, but by what you get done. This does not frighten you. It pleases you.

2. Woo

Woo stands for winning others over. You enjoy the challenge of meeting new people and getting them to like you. Strangers are rarely intimidating to you. On the contrary, strangers can be energizing. You are drawn to them. You want to learn their names, ask them questions, and find some area of common interest so that you can strike up a conversation and build rapport. Some people shy away from starting up conversations because they worry about running out of things to say. You don't. Not only are you rarely at a loss for words; you actually enjoy initiating with strangers because you derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection. Once that connection is made, you are quite happy to wrap it up and move on. There are new people to meet, new rooms to work, new crowds to mingle in. In your world there are no strangers, only friends you haven't met yet -- lots of them.

3. Empathy

You can sense the emotions of those around you. You can feel what they are feeling as though their feelings are your own. Intuitively, you are able to see the world through their eyes and share their perspective. You do not necessarily agree with each person's perspective. You do not necessarily feel pity for each person's predicament -- this would be sympathy, not Empathy. You do not necessarily condone the choices each person makes, but you do understand. This instinctive ability to understand is powerful. You hear the unvoiced questions. You anticipate the need. Where others grapple for words, you seem to find the right words and the right tone. You help people find the right phrases to express their feelings -- to themselves as well as to others. You help them give voice to their emotional life. For all these reasons other people are drawn to you.

4. Positivity

You are generous with praise, quick to smile, and always on the lookout for the positive in the situation. Some call you lighthearted. Others just wish that their glass were as full as yours seems to be. But either way, people want to be around you. Their world looks better around you because your enthusiasm is contagious. Lacking your energy and optimism, some find their world drab with repetition or, worse, heavy with pressure. You seem to find a way to lighten their spirit. You inject drama into every project. You celebrate every achievement. You find ways to make everything more exciting and more vital. Some cynics may reject your energy, but you are rarely dragged down. Your Positivity won't allow it. Somehow you can't quite escape your conviction that it is good to be alive, that work can be fun, and that no matter what the setbacks, one must never lose one's sense of humor.

5. Relator

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.


Yeah, me either :)


1 comment:

  1. Not surprised at all my friend. And for the record, I still miss your snorts.
    1.Input 2. Empathy 3. Activator 4. Developer 5. Belief