Those of you who’ve met me or attended any of my training sessions know that I love to learn. And of course, one of the best ways to learn (besides attending training, of course!) is to read. I don’t often have an opportunity to attend training sessions unless I’m presenting them, but I do love to read. Imagine that!
The term “personal development” sometimes gets a bad rap these days, but if you think about it, those of us who help others learn in any context are really helping with their personal development, aren’t we?
In light of that, in my PLAN blog posts, I’d like to share some of the tools that have helped me in my own personal – and professional – development.
One book that quickly comes to mind is “Now, Discover Your Strengths,” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton. I originally read this book about seven years ago after one of those rare opportunities when I did, indeed, attend a training session, a simulcast presented by Mr. Buckingham. What he said really resonated with me – essentially, why don’t we focus more on our strengths? We can – and should – work on our weaknesses, but let’s face it…if it’s truly a weakness, we may never be able to turn it into a real strength.
I found myself nodding in agreement as Marcus explained his philosophy. So, following the session, I bought the book. I wanted to take the assessment included with the purchase to see if I could discover my own strengths.
Perhaps one of the reasons I’m a fan of that book is that it confirmed for me several attributes I somehow knew were within me, but had never acknowledged. More importantly, I never thought about using those attributes as “guiding lights,” if you will, as to how I should move through life so that I am living in my strength areas. Does my work reflect my strengths? Am I “in my strengths” during my leisure time?
To give you a little peek into what that might mean, one of my top five strengths is “Ideation.” The definition is, I think, fairly on target for me; “Your mind is brimming with ideas. You probably are eager to share them with whoever will listen.” That made me laugh – after all, I have a captive audience when I’m training! But it also says, “Chances are good that you enjoy reading, but you refrain from accepting information at its face value.” That, too, describes me. After nearly two decades of research, pondering, and reflecting on what I read for my workshops, I have concluded that every book on personal and professional development is just someone’s opinion. My job is to boil it down to what can be used in real life, then share that with my workshop participants. Alas, I must admit though, that if it seems to just be theory and opinion with no real-life application, I sometimes don’t even finish the book!
Getting back to the assessment, another one of my strengths is “Learner.” That one made me smile, too. It was as if someone was following me around, but in a good way! The explanation in the book said, “By nature, you are motivated to continually acquire knowledge and skills,” and “It’s very likely that you habitually bring together all sorts of information so you can refer to it later.”
Oh, Marcus, if only you could see my bookshelves – you’d see just how much information I habitually bring together!
I’ll share another favorite next time…until then, keep on learnin’!