Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Your Strongest Life

"We don't see things as they are; we see things as we are." ~ Anais Nin, French writer and diarist

I'm a huge fan of Marcus Buckingham. If I had to make a short-list of the top 5 people I'm most interested in meeting, he'd be one of them because of his keen insight into human behavior. He knows what makes us tick, all of us, just upon meeting us. He looks at his role in life as a guide on the side who wants to help people reach their full potential happiness and satisfaction. That's it. Simple, straight-forward, no nonsense, no voodoo, no magic. It takes dedication and hard work to reach our potential. He's giving us tools to get there. He's not here to make us feel better about the very bad choices we may have made in the past and our unfortunate habits (and we all have them). He's here to help us realize and maximize our ability to effect positive change, in ourselves first and then in the world around us.

My friend, Lon, is also a fan and recently sent me a series of articles that Marcus Buckingham has been writing for the Huffington Post on the subject of women's happiness. We're in a tough spot: as a gender, half the world's population, our happiness has been on a steady decline for 40 years. 40 years. That is a very long time to be unhappy. Marcus Buckingham offers up surprising observations and remedies for this trend. It's important reading for all - men and women alike.

I clicked through the articles and eventually landed on a link to an on-line game that serves as life's central casting office. Through a short list of questions, Marcus Buckingham shows us the lead role and supporting role that we were born to play, just as we are right now, and that also stretches us by revealing where we should focus our time and energy. It's fun, insightful, and accurate. I hope you'll take a couple of minutes to give it a whirl. While it's geared toward women on the website, it's equally applicable to men: http://www.wowowow.com/relationships/marcus-buckingham-find-your-strong-life-test-376609

Here's what mine revealed: best lead role for me - Creator; best supporting role for me - Weaver. Hmmm....what does all of this mean?

1.) "Begin by asking: 'What do I understand?' You aren’t immune to the feelings and perspectives of others, but your starting point is your own insight, your own understanding."

Great - now I can stop feeling bad about my natural instinct to look internally first and then externally second!

2.) "Your best quality: Your ability to find patterns invisible to others."

As a kid, hide-and-seek was my favorite game. I considered being an anthropologist, a paleontologist, an astronaut, and a psychiatrist. All searching professions. At heart, I am a Seeker, Explorer, Finder. I sometimes wonder if I missed my calling as a detective of some sort. I do like to find what's special and unique in things, places, and people who do not immediately look special upon first glance. My favorite game as a kid was hide-and-seek. I love the idea of underground places, secret passageways, and buried treasure. I love the search. I want to get at what's underneath the exterior, of people and situations.

3.) "Always: Find time to be by yourself."

So true - and a goal of mine as of late. I do need some time on my own every day to re-group. I love people, and to make sure I always enjoy their company, I also need my time for me, too.

4.) "Be careful you: Don’t think so long that you never do anything."

I am the quintessential list maker. I weigh pros and cons and consequences and upsides and downsides and comparison shop. These are important things, and I need to make sure to balance them with enough action. Sometimes, we just have to go for it, even if it seems that the odds are not stacked in our favor!

5.) Your smartest career move: Any job where you’re paid to produce new content.

What my life and writing is all about, and what I think I am just about ready to jump off the cliff and do full-time!

And my ideal supporting role - Weaver. Creator I understand inherently. Weaver? Does this mean I need to get myself a loom? As it turns out, no. Weaver is a synonym for connector. Of course!

1.) "You begin by asking: 'Who can I connect?' You see the world as a web of relationships, and you are always excited by the prospect of connecting two new people within your web."

I love nothing better than linking two people whom I adore to one another when there can be a mutually-beneficial relationship. It's a puzzle, and I love puzzles.

2.) "Your best quality: Your genuine curiosity."

My favorite question has always been 'Why?' and I'm not shy so I asked it (and still ask it) A LOT. My poor mother. I was the 'Why' child in every class, at every moment. Now I'm the 'Why' adult. You can't take the kid out of the classroom...

3.) "Always: Trust in your web of relationships."

Done - they get me through the tough times and help me celebrate the great abundance in my life. My most valuable asset is my network, and I covet it.

4.) "Be careful you: Don’t push people together who shouldn’t be."

I've had some failures on this front for sure. It's not just about the experience and interests of people, but their personalities, too, that dictate if a connection is really worth making. I need to be more mindful of that

5.) "Your smartest career move: Any job where you’re paid to speed up the connection between people."

That would be my obsession with on-line community-building. I love it. If I could, I'd spend every moment of my life working toward this end. Connect, connect, connect. As a kid, my favorite art activity was connect-the-dots. I loved to see what would emerge, how something would develop. It's still true - my life and relationships are in a constant state of emergence and development.

I've printed out my lead role and supporting role descriptions and hung them up at my desk and on my fridge to remind me what's important, and where and on whom I should spend my time, energy, and talents. Strongest life, here I come!

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