Friends, welcome to the 8th edition of the "Tracking Your Wyrd" course.
As we continue to circle dance around the gorgeous genius that is you, or in the language of the myth of Er, the gorgeous Genius who accompanies you in this dance we call life, I want to turn now to looking at your wyrd superpowers.
You’ll remember my rant against Gifted and Talented programs, which is really a rant for Gifted and Talented programs for all, because I believe we all come into this world with superpowers, but few are recognized and rewarded in the traditional educational system, with its emphasis on standardization. So perhaps it is with a wee bit of irony that I’m going to suggest this month that you all take a standardized test to find out about your gifts and talents!
Some of you will know about StrengthFinders or what’s now called CliftonStrengths, published by the Gallup Organization, and you might have already taken the assessment, so this week will be about revisiting your assessment, and I’ve got some other supplemental material for you below. But for those of you unfamiliar with this, the assessment tool points to your strengths or your natural talents. There are 34 strengths in this system, broken into four categories to address four questions:
- How do you absorb, think about and analyze information and situations? This is the domain of strategic thinking.
- How do you make things happen? This is the domain of execution.
- How do you influence others? This is the domain of influencing.
- How do you build and nurture strong relationships? This is the domain of relationship building.
There are a couple of ways you can use this typology system. At no cost to you, you can click here to download descriptions of the 34 strengths, and you could just look through them and note which ones sound like you—they focus on the top 5, so you could see if you can discern what those might be. You can also buy the book for under $20 (click here) and look over the expanded descriptions and see which ones seem to fit. The book actually contains access to the online assessment tool. Or, you could just take the online assessment without buying the book. They have a report (click here, currently priced at $19.99) that just gives you your top 5, or you can buy a report ranking you for all 34 strengths (click here, currently priced at $49.99) which I did because I wanted to see my non-strengths as well (or rather, the non-strengths of my Genius)! If you’ve got the resources, I really suggest you take the online instrument—I know I wouldn’t have gotten my top 5 of my strengths right, nor my bottom—in my case, the ranking was both validating of what I consciously knew and also revealing of strengths I have that I wouldn’t name as such, or don’t own about myself, or never thought of as strengths. So some surprises for me, and maybe for you too.
I found out in taking the test that two of my top strengths are intellection—I like ideas and thinking and being introspective—and connectedness. I’m fascinated by ideas and by finding connection between ideas and connecting to others with ideas and discussing ideas with them—and this serves me well in my vocation as an educator, and also helps explain how I can get burned out in teaching the same ideas over and over again—I need new ideas to add to the returning champions.
But also, check this out. I have a book publishing company I named Mandorla Books. The mandorla is the symbol of connection, the space in between, and you may remember that love and connection are two of my most important values. But look at my description of my company. “Mandorla Books is committed to publishing books that connect authors to readers, readers to thinkers, thinkers to ideas, and ideas to each other.” So, uh, yea. It was validating to see intellection and connection, the love of ideas and connecting ideas, as two of my top 5 strengths.
I have some critiques of this system (of course, because one of my top strengths is intellection!), AND at the same time, I find it a powerful assessment tool for tracking our wyrd. But also, I have found Strengthfinders useful to me in terms of relationships. It’s helpful to know the strengths of my partners both romantic and professional, and understand why they do what they do, what their go-to strategies are in life. It’s also helpful to see their lowest strengths—lots of conflicts can be understood, and mitigated, using this tool. I know I’ll be dragging out my results this year at Christmas when I’m playing games with my family and they insist upon calling me competitive, when in fact competition ranks at 32 out of 34 for me—my Genius is definitely not competitive! I play games for connection, not competition, and now I’ve got the papers to prove it!
If you don’t want to go through the Clifton Strengths material, click here to download a list of 24 signature strengths out of Martin Seligman’s work in Positive Psychology, and click here for a compilation of 127 different strengths from various strengths surveys.
Here’s a bonus exercise for you.
After you figure out your strengths, go back to your mountain experience and see if there’s any correlation between your strengths and what you were doing there. Sure enough, three of my top four strengths were on display on one of my 10 out of 10 peak experiences, and of my experiences that constantly rank around 8 out of 10, all four of my top strengths are being utilized.
Go figure. I am wyrdly consistent. And maybe you are too.
If you’re interested in a more in-depth study of how to bring your wyrd and your genius into more congruence in your vocational life, consider my course Deep Vocation: Restoring Your Soul’s Purpose, Power, and Pleasure. Click here to learn more.