Following up on last week’s blog, this week I want to reflect a bit further on myself and what I’m learning, particularly relating to the Strengthsfinder assessment, ahead of our retreat day on Thursday that will be looking at this. I can follow up again afterwards, but I thought it could be useful to have a look beforehand so that I’ve got some ideas to reflect on on the day.

In some ways, January has been a quiet month but I’ve also been doing lots of preaching, which has presented a challenge as I’m having to be more organised to get everything prepared that I need to do! For me at the moment, it’s all about learning what I do best and how I can maximise the time spent on those things while getting through the other stuff the best I can. So I’m really grateful for all of the support I have during this learning curve, and particularly for the Strengthsfinder test as I know this is a really highly rated resource.

I very much feel that I’m sharpening up and learning how I work better. Things like emails, distractions through the day and managing time to get different types of tasks done are moving forward. Its also interesting that as I get busier, some other areas have started to slip and having to balance things out is a constant challenge!

My top 5 themes for the assessment were input, activator, futuristic, woo and communication. The questions for each were as follows:

1. As you read your personalized strengths insights, what words, phrases, or lines stand out to you?

Input –

  • “Juggling a variety of topics, plots, and authors in the same time span. Driven by your talents..”
  • “you usually equate education… with understanding more about something today than you understood about it yesterday”
  • “Even when you have not experienced particular situations, events, opportunities, or dilemmas, you might have the ability to project yourself into them.”
  • “People usually rely on you to offer clear and easy-to-comprehend explanations.”

Activator –

  • “You energize others so they feel enthusiastic about a position you have taken”
  • “Instinctively, you might derive some satisfaction from leading conversations with outsiders and/or newcomers.”
  • “Provide people with the impetus”
  • “help individuals overcome their resistance”
  • “By nature, you may launch certain projects or start particular assignments when no one else is willing to take the lead.”

Futuristic –

  • “spend a lot of time considering what the coming months, years, or decades have to offer you.”
  • “help people see the opportunities and possibilities”
  • “viewed by some people as an innovative and original thinker.”
  • “help certain individuals select the best alternative”
  • “Maybe you cannot refrain from talking about some of the things people can create or accomplish in the future.”

Woo –

  • “help coworkers reach a level of mutual understanding they might not attain without you.”
  • “enlighten people about potential partnerships, common interests, or shared goals.”
  • “gravitate to activities that permit you to join specific teams.”
  • “Perhaps you gather information, store it in your mind, or somehow document it.”
  • “Instinctively, you are sometimes unreserved.”
  • “You may enjoy being the first person to talk with newcomers, strangers, or outsiders.”

Communication –

  • “drawn to discussing issues and ideas with others.”
  • “welcome the opportunity to regale people with your stories.”
  • “your verbal exchanges generate excitement.”
  • “distinguish each person’s unique contribution to a conversation. help others express their varied, peculiar, eccentric, quaint, or unusual viewpoints.”
  • “Chances are good that you sometimes enjoy being the person who gets people talking.”

2. Out of all the talents in this insight, what would you like for others to see most in you?

Input – I’d like to help people understand concepts and situations, and explain things in clear and concise ways. I’d like to keep learning and be known as someone who can give insight.

Activator – I’d like to be seen as someone who is willing to give others both the impetus and the opportunity, and to encourage people in doing new things.

Futuristic – I’d like to be seen as visionary and forward thinking, constantly giving people the drive to be excited and hopeful.

Woo – I want to be seen as someone who is prepared to push conversations and thoughts forward, and can find something in common with many people.

Communication – I want to be seen as an exciting and engaging speaker, bringing conversations together and relating to others.

1. How does this information help you better understand your unique talents?

It in many way confirms what I already thought  – that my best contributions relate to people, conversations and ideas. That I should focus on helping people understand themselves and others, and conversation plays a huge role in this. It also helps me to see that I can often be lazy and shy away from what comes naturally to me and the things that I should be developing.

2. How can you use this understanding to add value to your role?

It means that I need to allow time for learning new ideas and passing them on to others, for being involved in leadership and vision, and giving ideas the spark that they need.

3. How can you apply this knowledge to add value to your team, workgroup, department, or division?

I need to put myself forward more to bring ideas to the table, even if I can’t necessarily get them off the ground. I need to invest in others more and share what I’ve learned, and push myself forward to constantly learn more.

4. How will this understanding help you add value to your organization?

Not too sure about this – something to reflect further on. Perhaps it means more widely; the organisation as a whole. In the context of the church of england, I can constantly be thinking of what the future might look like, being willing to offer challenges and solutions, and a sense of vision.

5. What will you do differently tomorrow as a result of this report?

I need to have a good look at where my time is spent and how much this is focused on what I do best – also looking at moving forward and how this could shape future ministry. I also need to talk to people more and develop confidence!

Ideas for application that stand out:

Input –

  • -Devise a system to store and easily locate information. This can be as simple as a file for all the articles you have clipped or as sophisticated as a computer database.
  • -As you gather and absorb information, be aware of the individuals and groups that can most benefit from your knowledge, and be intentional about sharing with them.
  • -Identify your areas of specialization, and actively seek more information about them.
  • -Deliberately increase your vocabulary. Collect new words, and learn the meaning of each of them.
  • -Also make sure to let your friends and colleagues know that you enjoy answering their questions.

Activator –

  • -At work, make sure that your manager judges you on measurable outcomes rather than your process
  • -Look for areas that are bogged down by discussion or blocked by barriers. End the stalemate by creating a plan to get things moving and spur others into action.
  • -You learn more from real experience than from theoretical discussions. To grow, consciously expose yourself to challenging experiences that will test your talents, skills, and knowledge.
  • -Consider partnering with focused, futuristic, strategic, or analytical people who will lend their direction and planning to your activation, thereby creating an opportunity to build consensus and get others behind the plan.
  • -Be strategic and wise in the use of your Activator talents. When is the best time, where is the best place, and who are the best people with whom to leverage your valuable influence?

Futuristic –

  • -Take time to think about the future. The more time you spend considering your ideas about the future, the more vivid your ideas will become. The more vivid your ideas, the more persuasive you will be.
  • -Seek audiences who appreciate your ideas for the future. They will expect you to make these ideas a reality, and these expectations will motivate you.
  • -Find a friend or colleague who also has powerful Futuristic talents. Set aside an hour each month for “future” discussions. You can push each other to greater heights of creativity and vividness.
  • -Partner with someone with strong Activator talents. This person can remind you that you do not discover the future, you create it with the actions you take today.
  • -Read articles about technology, science, and research to gain knowledge that will fuel your imagination.

Woo –

  • -Deliberately build the network of people who know you. Tend to it by checking in with each person at least once a month.
  • -Join local organizations, volunteer for committees, and find out how to get on the social lists of the influential people where you live.
  • -Learn the names of as many people as you can. Create a file of the people you know, and add names as you become acquainted. Include a snippet of personal information — such as their birthday, favorite color, hobby, or favorite sports team.
  • -In social situations, take responsibility for helping put reserved people at ease.
  • -Whenever possible, be one of the first people others meet. Your capacity for meeting and greeting new people will help to quickly put them at ease.

Communication –

  • -Start a collection of stories or phrases that resonate with you. For example, cut out magazine articles that move you, or write down powerful word combinations. Practice telling these stories or saying these words out loud, by yourself. Listen to yourself actually saying the words. Refine.
  • -When you are presenting, pay close attention to your audience. Watch their reactions to each part of your presentation. You will notice that some parts are especially engaging. Afterwards, take time to identify the moments that particularly caught the audience’s attention. Draft your next presentation around these highlights.
  • -Practice. Improvisation has a certain appeal, but in general, an audience will respond best to a presenter who knows where he or she is headed. Counterintuitively, the more prepared you are, the more natural your improvisations will appear.
  • -Keep getting smarter about the words you use. They are a critical currency. Spend them wisely, and monitor their impact.
  • -Volunteer for opportunities to present. You can become known as someone who helps people express their thoughts and ambitions in a captivating way.

Practical Steps:

  1. Make sure I have four people in my life: Mentor, Mentee, Spiritual Director and Visionary. Organise regular time to see each of these people so that I’m being invested in, investing in someone, learning alongside someone and moving forward spiritually. (Possible fifth person could be someone who isn’t a christian)
  2. Take time regularly to reflect personally – this focused hour or two working on this has been hugely helpful. Need to do it more.
  3. Push myself forward in making small talk and getting comfortable to talking to new people – can’t make excuses!

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