What Keeps You Going?
Have you ever thought about what you are best at doing? I have used many personality profiles, and other tests to see where my talents lie. I thought it was for my career, but I realized these are also my best skills in life even as a retiree.
Ten years ago I took a test after reading Marcus Buckingham books on the Strengths Movement. Marcus Buckingham is an author and business consultant. He worked for the Gallup organization. He says that we must work to our strengths and manage our weaknesses. We will never be able to be great in the areas of our weaknesses, but we can be great working to our strengths.
Today I happened to run across these results. I look back on my life, when I felt I was doing what I should be doing—looking at the career I chose, and even the things I do as a retiree, and I see these five strengths actually in everything I do. I am grateful, that I had the privilege to read and also hear Marcus Buckingham in person, as he helped me not to feel bad about the things I could not do well, because each and every one of us has things we do well. Those are the things that help us truly love our work everyday, and also how we live our lives daily responding in our homes, with our families, our neighbors, and friends.
Here are my top 5 strengths that resulted from this test:
Activator – I like making things happen. It stated that I am “eager to set directions, make decisions, and take charge of projects, processes, procedures or initiatives.” None of this was a surprise to me. I think it fits with my career in human resources. I think it fits that I will take a project and set everyone on a forward goal. I am energized by possibilities and generating enthusiasm.
Strategic – I found this one very interesting, because one time at work I got in trouble for having this strength! (I will explain later). It stated: “You spend time considering numerous courses of action before choosing one. You invent original and innovative techniques for dealing with expected and unexpected challenges. . .you can suggest a number of alternative solutions.” In one of my early human resources jobs, I sat in a meeting about a communication we were sending out to all employees. I saw a flaw in the memo, and suggested it may cause some confusion with the employees that may have some negative consequences. After making this suggestion, my boss stated in front of all the people in this meeting that I was not to question the wording of the memo. I was put in my place. The following week after the memo came out to all employees, we had a huge line of folks coming to see us very unhappy with the what the memo said to the reality of what really happened. I always look at a situation and think of all the ways it can go sideways before setting out my solution. My strategic thinking was not a welcome factor there, and it could have solved a major issue. It was one of my strengths, but not always a welcome one.
Ideation – I think this is my favorite, and the one I really like. It says about me, “Driven by your talents, you bring new thoughts to most discussions and meetings. . .you derive a jolt of energy whenever a new idea occurs to you. Others may label you creative or original or conceptual. What you are sure of is that ideas are thrilling. And on most days this is enough.” I love coming up with new ideas. I am a project person. It could be making a quilt, decorating a room, planning a party. Whatever it may be at the time, I am in my element when I can come upon with new ideas and use my creativity.
Connectedness – This one kind of blew me away. I love introducing people to each other. I think of people who have something in common, and I want to connect them. I do believe that if you ask enough questions, you will find something in common with almost every person you meet. The results stated: “Things happen for a reason. You are sure of it. You are sure of it because in your soul you know that we are all connected. . .You gain confidence from knowing that we are not isolated from one another. . .Instinctively, you now and then rely on your ability to help certain people find reasons to link up with one another. The value you place on humankind guides your decision-making. . .Perhaps you realize human beings are linked to one another regardless of their age, language, education, socio-economic status, nationality, race, religion, or culture. . .The exact articles of your faith will depend on your upbringing and your culture, but your faith is strong. It sustains you and your close friends in the face of life’s mysteries.”
Maximizer – Yeah, I am uncomfortable doing things that are not in my wheel house. I am thrilled to continue to improve what I know I can do. I am happy to be who I am without trying to be someone else, or what someone else may expect of me. My results stated: “Because of your strengths, you might be exceptionally aware of the things you do and do not do well. Venturing into unfamiliar territory might create unwanted stress in your life. Instinctively, you may handle yourself well in specific types of social situations. Occasionally you set aside your work or studies to enjoy of the company of friends, newcomers, or strangers. . .You tend to avoid those who want to fix you and make you well rounded. You don’t want to spend your life bemoaning what you lack. Rather, you want to capitalize on the gifts with which you are blessed. It’s more fun. It’s more productive.”
You may not have taken an official “strengths” test, but if you look back on your life, I am sure you can figure out what type of things you love to do. What are those things underneath those things you love to do? Those are your strengths. Keep doing those things. Keep making them better. You will realize that you use these strengths in every area of your life. You don’t live your life only on the job, or only at home. Your strengths are used in every aspect of your life. Embrace what you do well. They are gifts you have been given. None of us are alike—wouldn’t that be boring? We are a bouquet of mixed flowers—different colors, shapes, scents, heights. It’s what makes us beautiful to each other. You have gifts you can share with others that only you can do. You are special. You are unique.