When my Rugen School gym teacher figured in a recent blog post … it generated quite a buzz among my grade school classmates.  And yes, I actually do know enough of my grade school classmates to be in on the buzz. Turns out I have at least 20 Facebook friends who went to the Glenview, Illinois elementary school with me.

Some of those people are real-life friends with whom I’ve been in touch since the days of pigtails and saddle shoes and skinned knees. Some are acquaintances today … we’ve reconnected thanks to social networking.

But still, people tell me it’s unusual to have that many 50-year-long relationships.

Here’s the thing. I’m not some kind of historical relic living in the past.  I’m a Relator.

Maybe you’re familiar with the Gallup Organization’s StrengthsFinder?  I heartily recommend it as a way to identify your talents and develop a plan to make the most of them. You may discover, as I did, that you have taken some of your gifts for granted, that you’ve failed to use them as well as you could.

I worked for a firm, a decade ago, where everyone took the StrengthsFinder assessment; we actually organized our Chicago office around individual strengths. And we became much more productive as a team when we focused our energy on areas where each of us had natural talent. 

For me, it was equally valuable to redefine some qualities I’d considered terrible flaws. Looking at them in another light, they’re just … not my strengths.  Fortunately, they are someone else’s strengths – this is where working as a team is such a blessing.

So what is this Relator thing about?

“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 can learn more about your own natural abilities in the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 or at www.strengthsfinder.com. The assessment will give you your five top themes or strengths.

Because we are “deepening a relationship” here, please leave a comment about one of your strengths and how you’re using it in your professional life.  And I’ll tell you about another of mine in a later post.