Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Who am I?

In going through some drafts this morning, I found this one from 2006 that was never posted. I still think about the things that I learned and shared in this post, things that make up who I am and inform how I relate to the world. 

I've been spending a lot of time in self discovery lately. I was informed a while back that in Australia, the aboriginal people would take 60 days to walk the country to "find themselves." They call it a walk about. I've heard others refer to it as a spiritual pilgrimage. I didn't think this sort of thing was supposed to catch until some midlife crisis stage or something but I'm finding that more and more I am drawn to figure out who I am. I haven't had the opportunity to break away from everything else but, in my own way, have been on my own journey of discovery. It seems like much of my life has been revolving around the idea of the journey lately!

Anyway, one of the things I was encouraged to do was to do the strengths test that is put together by the Gallup Poll. It's an online test but you have to have a special code to do it. I got my code from reading "Now Discover Your Strengths."It's an interesting premise, one that seems so common sense to me and yet completely countercultural. Here it is: if someone focuses on building their strengths they will be more effective and more satisfied than if they were to focus on correcting their weaknesses. I know it's not rocket science, but let me say it again:

If someone focuses on building their strengths they will be more effective and more satisfied than if they were to focus on correction their weaknesses!

As I search through my life, I've been looking to figure out what am I good at, what do I enjoy, what are my gifts...Basically, what is it that I can do that no one else can - for the kingdom? It's about finding the place that fits for me.

Anyway, back to the Gallup Poll. Their test is based on 34 themes and the belief that everyone has strengths in these areas but that there is no right or wrong combination of the themes. You do the test and it will pump out your top 5. That's all you see. I wish I could get the whole list 'cause then, in my mind, I'd know how it all fits together (if you're paying attention, you're already getting insight into mine!) but they don't do that. See, our society is so trained to the idea of correcting weaknesses - check out the education system if you don't believe me - that people would automatically look to the bottom to find out which ones they aren't good at...and that would defeat the purpose of the whole thing.

I posted this earlier in a comment about the book, but here's what my top 5 came up as:

Achiever - need I really explain
Input - also described as inquisitive
Ideation - ideas, concepts, connections and other phenomena are fascinating...yes, they are
Learner - just let me learn, anything, all the time
Responsibility - taking psychological ownership for anything I commit to.

I've decided this makes me a scary, scary person!

Interestingly enough, I was convinced that something to do with relationships (Relator is the way it is described in the themes) would come out but it's not in my top 5. After doing this, I ended up taking a session when I was in Denver that just happened to be on the exact same thing. The facilitator pegged me as a relator right away. Maybe it's my sixth.

I can't believe how much this little bit of insight into myself has opened my eyes to my own behavior. The motivations behind so many of the things I do are revealed by these themes. Better yet, some of the things about myself that I have always held in contempt or been told are weaknesses have been revealed as strengths. For example, I have often been told that my being a high achiever is a strength and so I've always hated that about myself. Now, however, I can see that there are things to be cautious of but it is actually a strength. It's funny how putting it in a positive light makes it all seem better! I see reasons why I am frustrated in my current context and have begun to look for positive ways to make change so that I'm using my strengths and feeling more satisfied in my day to day activities.

Often we, in the church, look at spiritual gifts as the things God has given us to to work with in a specific situation but I'm able now to see my strengths, my talents, as things that God has also put in me to succeed, to find contentment, to reflect His image and to be a part of His kingdom work.


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