I read this book about a year ago or so when I was taking a class at church. Then I happened to catch Oprah the other day and saw she had the co-author Marcus Buckingham on to promote his new book. Not often that Oprah and our church happens to be promoting the same material but I found the program to be really fascinating.
The book and the show talked about how we are typically programmed from birth to strengthen our weaknesses instead of developing our innate strengths. If you got all A's and one C on your report card, guess what your parents, teachers, everyone told you to work on most - that subject you got a C on. We are encouraged to be well rounded, balanced individuals, right? But, what if we put more effort and thought into discovering and actually more fully developing our strengths? Would that make us all a bit happier and more productive in our lives? That is the argument the author makes.
I guess the reason I am bringing this up is here it is January 5th, and I am thinking I should make some New Year's Resolutions. Obviously, punctuality and details are not high on my strength list. One of the things that are available to you when you purchase one of Marcus Buckingham's books is a StrengthsFinder quiz. It outlines 34 different personality or strength characteristics and after you have answered the questions, it spits out your top five strengths or themes. I took this last year. It was a bit surprising.
So here were my Top 3 Strengths:
Adaptability: I laughed hard when I read this one. I did not consider myself adaptable - until I read the description the book gave. You live in the moment. You don't see the future as a fixed destination. Instead you see it as a place that you create out of the choices you make right now. That doesn't mean you don't have a plan, you probably do. Unlike some, you don't resent sudden requests or unforeseen detours, you expect them, and on some level actually look forward to them. I guess I was born to be an IA Pilot Wife after all, because being the wife of a commercial airline pilot, things never really go as scheduled. HA! But I think that is why I enjoyed being a critical care nurse. You always went into work with a plan, a plan that your patient would live through your shift. You formulated that plan a little bit about what you needed to do, but a lot but what could possible go wrong - because it usually did. There might be many unexpected detours throughout the day, but if at the end of the day your plan still came together quite well , the victory was just that much sweeter. I am a sick cookie, aren't I?
Empathy: I always knew this was a strength of mine. So yes, I became a nurse. Suffered through all that chemistry and math so I could help people when they needed it. It has been a good career choice for me.
Connectedness: This is the book description. Things happen for a reason. You are sure of it because in your soul, you know that we are all connected. Yes, we are individuals, responsible for our judgments and in possession of our own free will, but nonetheless we are part of something larger. Sensitive to the invisible hand, you can give others comfort that there is a purpose beyond our humdrum lives. Hmm, not sure what to think of that one yet... but definitely feel in describes me to some extent.
You see, New Year's Resolutions do not do well by me. Notice there is not a strength mentioned above that contains the words, responsibility, focus, discipline, or strategic, - none of those knock 'em dead characteristics that I really do wish I had sometimes. I live by feel it seems. In a way it is oddly freeing not to have to live up to those things that you think you should be good at - and you just aren't. I am going to accept that as the way God made me. So yes, I still need to do a little "weakness management". Being empathetic is not going to get the girls to school or me to work on time unfortunately. The author also gives tips for that. 1) Get a little better at it. 2) Design a support system. 3)Use one of your strongest themes to overwhelm your weaknesses. Good advice, I think.
Just one New Year Resolution for me: Do more to develop and utilize my strengths, and stop beating myself up about the strengths I do not have. I'll let you know how it goes next December.