In fall of 2020, I took time to collect myself and reflect on what I value using an exercise from Brené Brown in Dare to Lead. I also revisited what my Clifton Stregthsfinders 2.0 said about me. How can I focus my effort to be more effective and where would it be most impactful for others to “tag me in”? It’s been a few years, but this introspection feels especially relevant today.
2020 was a rough year for nearly everyone. For me, I was struggling with the disconnected feeling created with a sudden move to being fully remote due to COVID-19, my children were struggling with remote schooling, my father died, and I was a year or so into some of the greatest professional challenges I have ever faced as a leader.
I was burning out and needed to reset.
Over a long weekend I spent several large blocks of time journaling and thinking. To help frame that thinking, I looked to two primary sources for inspiration:
- A personal values exercise from Dare to Lead
- My Strengthsfinders 2.0 results
Each of these gave me something meaty to think about. They challenged me to consider how what I have been focusing on — and how I have approached those things — maps to my internal tendencies. What do I like about what I see? What puts a fine point on the internal dissonance I was feeling?
Why This Post?
I don’t share this because “look at me, I’m navel-gazing!” I share this to help others better understand what seems to drive me, where I seem to be able to help most, and give them opportunity to use this to get the most from me by pointing me at the “right” problems and away from rabbit holes.
I also share this as an example of exercises I am happy to help others work through in shaping their own journeys and roles.
To be clear, what I will talk about here are the things I value in myself. In some cases, they may also be what others value in me but they are not externally focused.
One of the many good books on leadership is by Brené Brown called Dare to Lead.
This (now missing?) article talks about one of the exercises from the book where it asks you to do something very hard — narrow down your values to 2… from a non-exhaustive list of over 50! How do you not have a laundry list of things you think you value on that list? They may be important — critical even — but this exercise forces hard choices and drives to a sense of causality between those values. What is at the heart?
For me, this very challenging exercise led to Perseverance and Integrity. They are intertwined for me and they seem to influence much of what I do, and why, even if I am not consciously aware.
Let’s start with definitions I am operating from:
- Perseverance - Persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
- Integrity - The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; traits like being gracious, respectful, honest, trustworthy, hardworking, responsible, helpful, and patient.
How might this be useful to you?
Tag me in when the job calls for someone who, once committed, will ride it out until we get where we need to go. Assume that when I do engage, I will bring my full self and avoid short cuts that sacrifice personal integrity.
If something hard needs to be done “the right way”, I’m your person.
Conversely, if you expect those ideals will need to be sacrificed its probably best to find someone else.
I had a previous intern tell me:
You seem to prefer a swim level juuuust above drowning.
They said it out of respect but also insight. I gravitate toward those substantial challenges and value my persistence. I will come back to the dark side of this in a later point about “Responsibility”, but for now I will also say “like a dog with a bone” may be apt as well.
When I started at my previous company in early 2019, I took the Strengthsfinders 2.0 and was given my top 5. It was something included as part of an enterprise-wide onboarding program. Mine were the ones below. I included links to the descriptions and videos which I thought were pretty well summarized and resonated with me.
- Arranger (Executing) - organizing with flexibility in the moment, aligning and realigning as the puzzle pieces change
- Positivity (Relationship Building) - contagious enthusiasm
- Connectedness (Relationship Building) - faith in the links among all things, almost every event has meaning
- Developer (Relationship Building) - recognizes and cultivates the potential in others, “fills my cup” when others achieve success
- Responsibility (Executing) - takes psychological ownership of what they say they will do, committed to stable values of honesty and loyalty
As I watched each of these, I could see how they put words to things I struggled to. Patterns I feel, and choices I make, often without thinking.
I thrive on getting things done by working with others.
Responsibility especially struck home. While a strength, it is also an Achilles’ heel. I love that, unlike the other videos, it spends most of the time on “Yo, you tend toward overcommitting to too many things — watch out for that!”
How might this be helpful to you?
- Tag me in when there’s a puzzle and its shape and/or solution are unclear — especially if it is involves a confluence of humans (teams or individuals) and the systems/processes they have built
- Tag me in when you need a “cheerleader” to drive something forward — I can’t seem to help myself seeking silver linings and opportunities
- Helping others, especially individually, is never a burden — it is what fuels me day-to-day; it is in part why I am so committed to 1:1’s focused on growth
- Watch out for me to spread myself too thin chasing too many windmills — help me see when it appears I am focusing a lot of energy on something that’s not truly impactful
Consider your own values and strengths — what do they mean to you and those around you?