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.
I found Strengthfinders very helpful also–sometimes in the negative, as when I say “That isn’t one of my strengths!” But knowing that frees you to not beat yourself up over something that you don’t do particularly well, to find someone who does do it well, and to succeed in your own strengths. I had my entire mission team do the program last year before we went to Africa. We all knew and celebrated each other’s strengths and were able to work much more effectively as a team.
I learned later in life(after 40( that one of my greatest strengths is knowing, admitting and owning my weaknesses. Coincidentally I was blessed with a child at the same time, so I extended my strenght to share this with my son as he grew–to own who he is and strive for the best. At the same time we as women need to stop beating ourselves up all the time for NOT doing 47 things at once. It is OK to say no once in a while.
Is there value in taking the strength finders? For me it was a discovery of knowing or not knowing who I am and getting comfortable with myself through the lens of these five strengths. I just looked up my strength finder results and my strengths are deliberative, achiever, harmony, learning and restorative.
Now some of my strengths I can tolerate (harmony … have you heard me sing oh not that type of harmony, think serene essence). Some strengths I try to say that is not me at all (deliberative … I do not think I am that careful and cautious, I do take risks … but why does it take me so long to make a decision). Then there are strengths I wonder where did that come from (achiever … how is one an achiever and deliberative then that little voice inside says so what have you accomplished today, this week, month, year). Those strengths I will accept (restorative that at least sounds like I am fixing, solving problems for some benefit). One other strength for me and I ask; Is not everyone a learner?
It is interesting we know ourselves better than anyone else does (friends, family, colleagues …). Yet knowing these are my strengths, still makes me wonder, could I trade one or two … humm I guess it’s okay to just be me.
Catherine, I’m a BIG FAN of anything having to do with strengths — lucky you to have worked in an environment where firm leadership recognized the value in playing to our strengths instead of focusing on improving weaknesses!
One of my strengths is Connectedness: People who are especially talented in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.
This describes me to a T. I often fail at describing why I feel that all things are connected or how, but I do have faith that we’re all connected and that all aspects of life are interwoven. I can’t help clients fix their financial woes without first helping them examine what else is holding them back whether it’s career dissatisfaction, relationship woes or weight problems. They’re all tied together, which drives the development of my business philosophies and how I serve my clients.
Looking forward to following your work!