Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Playing to Your Strengths

I am a huge believer in strengths and Biblical gifts. A few years ago I was introduced to the book, "Now, Discover Your Strengths" by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton. They have narrowed it down to thirty-four different strength "themes" that people can have. Things like Achiever, Focus, Harmony, Maximizer, Relator, and Significance are included in those strength themes. The basic idea is that when we know our strengths (and gifts) we will be most productive and influential to those around us.

The week long seminar that I attended really opened my eyes up to the way I work and how to utilize those strengths and passions that I have. It also opened up my mind that there really can be people that thrive in their particular job ... even some jobs that I would deem undesirable. Since those classes I have tried to pay close attention to people working in their respective jobs.

I have found (and talked with) people who love their 9 to 5 cubicle grind. They thrive and grow in the work, the stress, and everything that goes with the business world. I have meet janitors who worked the late shift cleaning toilets in schools that wouldn't trade their job for the world. They loved the service and results that see in their work. I have chatted with nursing home assistants that absolutely love working with the elderly in their care no matter what the work entails. They just love being with the people and serving them.

All of those jobs are ones that I would not like to touch with a ten foot pole, yet there are plenty of people that absolutely love them. I have to admit that I didn't think there was a single person that loved to clean toilets or sit in a cubicle all day long. But, we each have strengths that lead us in different directions.

My strengths have lead me to a passion for ministry and for farming. And after reading through my strengths again I can see exactly why I am led to those two occupations ... better yet ... lifestyles! Check out my top five strengths below.
  • Context: People strong in the Context theme enjoy thinking about the past. They understand the present by researching its history.
  • Belief: People strong in the Belief theme have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their life.
  • Adaptability: People strong in the Adaptability theme prefer to "go with the flow." They tend to be "now" people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.
  • Communication: People strong in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.
  • Responsibility: People strong in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.
It has been a few years since I had read through those. Now that we are living through the adventure of beginning a farm I can see exactly how those strengths are playing out and why we have been led the direction we have been led. With farming, as with any occupation, I think we really need to make sure we are playing to our strengths. There are many jobs I think would be fun (something in the music industry, some sort of traveling job, New York Yankee), but my strengths and passions led me other places. It really is key to play to your strengths!

1 comment:

Yeoman said...

I've started to reply to this several times. You bring up some really interesting points, and this topic has been on my mind a lot recently.

I guess I'll limit my comment to this. God gives us all certain talents, and positive desires. What we do with those, however, is subject to our own will, when we can discern it. An interesting aspect of that, however, is that it seems to me that talents not used, and positive desires which are not at least somehow acknowledged, always leave a voice there, asking to be used.

On the other hand, God may be calling us at any one time in certain directions, which may not be what we want to do at all. That's hard to remembers, as we care not to think of it. I recently read an article on that, which if I can locate the link, I'll come back and post.

Turning yet another page, it's also important to have an answer to Wendell Berry's question, "what are people for?" So often today it appears that people are working at things they do not love, nor even like, just because. It's discouraging.

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