“Know Thyself…”

“Our greatest instrument for understanding the world—introspection . . .  The best way of knowing the inwardness of our neighbor is to know ourselves.”
~ Walter Lippmann (1889-1974), A Preface to Politics

Less than a year ago, I was asked by one of my colleagues to take a test for work to assess my strengths.  At first, I wasn’t too keen on the idea but I warmed up to the idea over time and took the test.  The test was created by the Gallup Organization (a source noted for being reputable) and I have to say that I was quite impressed with the results.  As with any assessment, you’re not gonna get 100% but I did find many accuracies with the report.

Many years of research conducted by the Gallup Organization suggest that the most effective people are those who understand their strengths and behaviors.  These people are best able to develop strategies to meet and exceed the demands of their daily lives, their careers, and their families.

A review of the knowledge and skills you have acquired can provide a basic sense of your abilities, but an awareness and understanding of your natural talents will provide true insight into the core reasons behind your consistent successes.

Your Signature Themes are very important in maximizing the talents that lead to your successes.  By focusing on your Signature Themes, separately and in combination, you can identify your talents, build them into strengths, and enjoy personal and career success through consistent, near-perfect performance.

Empathy
You can sense the emotions of those around you.  You can feel what they are feeling as though their feelings are your own.  Intuitively, you are able to see the world through their eyes and share their perspective.  You do not necessarily agree with each person’s perspective.  You do not necessarily feel pity for each person’s predicament – this would by sympathy, not Empathy.  You do not necessarily  condone the choices each person makes, but you do understand.  This instinctive ability to understand is powerful.  You hear the unvoiced questions.  You anticipate the need.  Where others grapple for words, you seem to find the right words and the right tone.  You help people find the right phrases to express their feelings – to themselves as well as to others.  You help give them voice to their emotional life.  For all these reasons other people are drawn to you.

Relator
Relator describes your attitude toward your relationships.  In simple terms, the Relator theme pulls you toward people you already know.  You do not necessarily shy away from meeting new people – in fact, you may have other themes that cause you to enjoy the thrill of turning strangers into friends – but you do derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends.  You are comfortable with intimacy.  Once the initial connection has been made, you deliberately encourage a deepening of the relationship.  You want to understand their feelings, their goals, their fears, and their dreams; and you want them to understand yours.  You know that this kind of closeness implies a certain amount of risk – you might be taken advantage of – but you are willing to accept the risk.  For you a relationship has value only if it is genuine.  And the only way to know that is to entrust yourself to the other person.  the more you share with each other, the more you risk together.  The more you risk together, the more each of you proves your caring is genuine.  These are your steps toward real friendship, and you take them willingly.

Deliberative
You are careful.  You are vigilant. You are a private person. You know that the world is an unpredictable place.  Everything may seem in order, but beneath the surface you sense the many risks.  Rather than denying these risks., you draw each one out into the open.  Then each risk can be identified, assessed, and ultimately reduced.  Thus, you are fairly serious person who approaches life with a certain reserve.  For example, you like to plan ahead as to anticipate what might go wrong.  You select your friends cautiously and keep your own counsel when the conversation turns to personal matters.  You are careful not to give out too much praise and recognition, lest it be misconstrued.  If some people don’t like you because you are not as effusive as others, then so be it.  For you, life is not a popularity contest. Life is something of a minefield.  Other can run through it recklessly if they so choose, but you take a different approach.  You identify the dangers, weigh their relative impact, and then place your feet deliberately.  You walk with care.

Futuristic
“Wouldn’t it be great if…”  You are the kind of person who loves to peer over the horizon.  The future fascinates you.  As if it were projected on the wall, you see in detail what the future might hold, and this detailed picture keeps pulling forward, into tomorrow.  While the exact content of the picture will depend on your other strengths and interests – a better product, a better team, a better life, or a better world – it will always be inspirational to you.  You are a dreamer who sees visions of what could be and who cherishes those visions.  When the present proves too frustrating and the people around you too pragmatic, you conjure up visions of the future and they energize you.  They can energize others, too.  In fact, very often people look to you to describe your visions of the future.  They want a picture that can raise their sights and thereby their spirits.  You can paint it for them.  Practice.  Choose your words carefully.  Make the picture as vivid as possible.  People will want to latch on to the hope you bring.

Developer
You see the potential in others.  Very often, in fact, potential is all you see.  In your view, no individual is fully formed.  On the contrary, each individual is a work in progress, alive with possibilities.  And you are drawn toward people for this very reason.  When you interact with others, your goal is to help them experience success.  You look for ways to challenge them.  You devise interesting experiences that can stretch them and help them grow.  And all the while you are on the lookout for the signs of growth – a new behavior learned or modified, a slight improvement in a skill, a glimpse of excellence or of “flow” where previously there were only halting steps.  For you these small increments – invisible to some – are clear signs of potential being realized.  These signs of growth in others are your fuel.  They bring you strength and satisfaction.  Over time many will seek you out for help and encouragement because on some level they know your helpfulness is both genuine and fulfilling to you.

If anyone is interesting in knowing more about these tests, feel free to contact me.

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