Being a Renaissance woman or a multipotentialite (see my first blog post), it's taken me awhile to figure out that there IS a common theme for what I am drawn to. What I've done, and what I look to do now, is to develop human potential. Whether it was working with a Boy Scout pack, leading a Girl Scout troop, coaching a FIRST ® LEGO® League team, working for a college ministry, teaching a Zumba class or a college course, or making sure adult learners have good instructors and high quality college programs, throughout my adult life, I have in some way been helping people grow and develop in new ways.
This became clear to me when I joined a local Rotary Club, the Old Town Club in Wichita, Kansas. The club president asked me what I wanted my title to be on my name tag. At the time, I was in between jobs, so I thought about what I'd done and realized there was that common theme I mentioned above. So I told her, "Human Potential Developer. It's the thread that runs through my volunteer and professional work." As I have thought more about it, it is clear that's what excites me about my work, whatever I'm doing, whether or not I'm paid for it.
What difference does coming to this realization make? It helps me focus within the wide range of things I can do. When I decide what organizations to get involved with, what volunteer efforts I commit my time to, and what positions I apply for, I look at the decision through this lens. While I might technically be able to do a particular job, if it doesn't involve this element of developing human potential, then I know it won't provide the kind of fulfillment I need in a job. I know I won’t be able to do it well for any length of time, let alone find satisfaction in it. It’s another way of “playing to my strengths.”
Studies have shown that knowing and working in one’s strengths is beneficial. Gallup found that people who are able to work within their strengths rather than focus on what’s “wrong” with them are “six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general (Rath, 2007, p. iii).” This is an important strategy for employers wanting to keep their employees happy in this time of low unemployment. It’s also good for people to understand more about themselves and their strengths.
So, here are some questions for you to think about. What is it about your job or what you want to do that excites you? What brings you satisfaction in your paid or volunteer work? If you’re not feeling satisfied where you are, what can you change to bring excitement and satisfaction into your work? Finally, do you know your strengths? Finding the book and personality assessment, StrengthsFinder 2.0, opened a whole new understanding of myself and others. My “Top 5” are: WOO (Winning Others Over); Learner; Communication; Includer; Ideation. I’m sure I’ll write more about it later because I’ve found it more helpful than other personality tests. You might, too.
I’d love this to be an interactive blog, so I invite you to answer the questions above, tell me about your strengths, or share your experiences of connecting points in your own life.
Rath, T. (2007). StrengthsFinder 2.0. New York: Gallup Press.