Focus on Your Strengths in 2014

Photo by David Hayward

Photo by David Hayward

My brain is like a sponge.

At least, that’s what I learned from StrengthsFinders 2.0 by Tom Rath.

I’ve been reflecting on this blog and its purpose, and I’ve been remembering why I started it: to use my strengths and stretch my skills.  According to the StrengthsFinders 2.0 online assessment, my top 5 strengths are:

  • Input – I have a craving to know more and like to collect information
  • Intellection – I am introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions
  • Deliberative – I take serious care in making decisions and anticipate obstacles
  • Restorative – I am adept at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it
  • Futuristic – I am inspired by the future and what could be

Or as I like to summarize it, I’m a nerd who likes to think and think and think about what’s wrong, what could go wrong, what should be different, and what could be.

And I learned how my brain is like a sponge:

Your mind is open and absorbent. You naturally soak up information in the same way that a sponge soaks up water. But just as the primary purpose of the sponge is not to permanently contain what it absorbs, neither should your mind simply store information. Input without output can lead to stagnation. 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.

Until that moment, I thought everyone’s brain was a sponge like mine.  And to a degree, that may be true.  But I’ve since realized that I consume far more information than most of my peers, which has helped me get to where I am today.  Knowing that my strength is collecting information, I found it helpful to have suggested actions to use and grow my strength:

  •  Identify situations in which you can share the information you have collected with other people. Also make sure to let your friends and colleagues know that you enjoy answering their questions.
  • Take time to write. Writing might be the best way for you to crystallize and integrate your thoughts.

Starting a blog seemed like a natural next step.  I’ve noticed how much easier it is to articulate my thoughts since I’ve started blogging—my ability to connect ideas and share them with others has gotten stronger because I’ve been increasing this skill through writing.

As you consider new behaviors and resolutions for 2014, ask yourself: how are you using your strengths, and how can you increase them?

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.