Strength Finder: putting my best barefoot forward

As I prepare to leave for Thailand, I am beginning to realize what a vulnerable situation I am getting myself into. I have never taught a classroom of students how to speak English, never collaborated with foreign teachers, never painted a mural, ran a youth group or organized any other typical PC community project one might fantasize about…

Even so, I know that I have talents to share. It got me to questioning: what are my strengths? In what capacity can I be most helpful? In what ways can I best contribute to others? How can I put my best barefoot forward?

My co-worker recommended the book Strength Finder 2.0. Based on the findings by a team of Gallup scientists led by the late Father of Strengths Psychology, Donald A. Clifton, this book provides an assessment to help people discover their top 5 strengths out of 34 common talents. The book gives its reader an access code to take the assessment online; after the assessment, a personalized report with along with¬†an action-planning guide lays out one’s strengths and the book becomes a tool for learning more about the 34 common talents.

According to this assessment, my top strengths are:

  1. Connectedness
    • helps to build teams and change the “us” and “them” mindset
    • helps others to understand how their efforts fit into the larger picture
    • fosters shared knowledge by listening and counseling
    • embraces the humanity in each person
  2. Input
    • soaks up information like a sponge
    • leverages knowledge into action
    • likes to read articles and books that stimulate
    • wants to acquire new information every day
  3. Intellection
    • likes to build relationships with big thinkers to inspire and focus her thinking
    • needs to be involved in the front-end of projects
    • engages others in intellectual and philosophical debate to make sense of things
    • schedules alone time to think and to re-energize
  4. Learner
    • chooses to be in constantly changing fields of study/work
    • takes advantage of adult learning opportunities
    • excels in a consulting role and being a catalyst for change
    • time disappears and attention intensifies when immersed in studying or learning
  5. Command
    • loves to be in the driver’s seat and defending causes against resistance
    • natural decisiveness breaks bottlenecks, removes roadblocks and creates momentum
    • seeks roles to persuade others, lead committees and spearhead new initiatives
    • strives to be known as a candid person who speaks plainly and directly

While these are all written in the present tense as if I already own all of these strong attributes, they are more importantly reminders of how to utilize my strengths. This assessment encourages a person to seek roles in which he or she will be most successful. By setting up my blog into the categories of my strengths, I hope it will serve as a daily reminder of how I can best make a difference in my Thai community. As Ben Franklin once proclaimed:

Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?

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