Passionate Strengths…

There is an opportunity on the horizon that I am seriously considering.  This part of my journey sparked several years ago as I attended an informational meeting for mission work in South America.  I remember feeling compelled to attend and felt interested – but not called.  It provoked conversation and I shared my interest with my inner circle.  The moment passed, the thought faded –

Recently I sat in church listening to a pastor that speaks directly to me.  The connection is sometimes uncanny and my openness to his words are validated by how I experience life.  He talked about the need for educational leaders and teachers – the need for people to make a difference. However, it wasn’t his passion that touched me – it was my own.  I was not just compelled – I was called.  The journey reignited.journey

As I reflect on my direction and move through the process, I was asked to take an online assessment.  As a lifetime educator I am not new to assessments.  I have taken and given more than I can count…reflecting on my own results and debriefing those where I was charged with their growth and development.  I had taken this particular assessment more than ten years ago when I was working as a school principal.  I remember the results; thinking that they felt accurate and reflected how I showed up as a building administrator and teacher leader.

Amazing to me how life shifts its focus and how our journeys meander through a path that we never dreamed might show up.  As I look at the results of who I once was, my strengths of Activator, Command, Futuristic, Maximizer and Strategic served me well as I provided leadership for a progressive and talented school community.  Without even knowing the descriptors, the words themselves show up as ‘in charge, moving things forward, making things happen’.  I was successful – and a school moved from an average to exceptional state rating under my leadership and through the hard work and commitment from teachers, parents and students.  Mission accomplished – I was living my strengths.Strength Tattoo

The new me is quite different.  As I reflected on the results of my recent strengths assessment, I was stunned at the accuracy of my location on this journey.  I continue to be Futuristic and Strategic, but now my complementary strengths show up as Connectedness, Ideation, and Relator.  My connectedness defines my belief that all things are linked – that we are inherently connected.  Ideation speaks to my fascination by ideas and my interest/ability to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.  As a relator I am engaged and energized by the close relationships of my inner circle – innately caring and being drawn to those I have created close bonds with.

This exercise touched my soul.  Not only could I relate intimately with the results but I was moved.  These aren’t just my strengths as defined by Buckingham and Clifton in “Now, Discover Your Strengths” as consistent near perfect performance in an activity. These are truly my passions – what motivates me – what energizes my life – what led me to teaching, coaching, consulting and now to considering the opportunity of true servant leadership.Passion

My experience, maturity and my meandering path have led me to this place of awe.  My worry is for people who are cautioned to not follow their passion, that practicality and responsibility requires us to somehow discount our passions and strengths as we navigate our careers and lives.  But can’t we really have it all?  By understanding who we are, uncovering our passions, discovering our strengths – doesn’t it make sense that we can find careers, open businesses, invent products, offer services that fulfill us and facilitate joy on our journey?

I have learned that my passion isn’t singular.  Clearly my strengths and passion have evolved over time.  They have followed the seasons of life.  Times when I have been required to be ‘selfless’ and others when I had the luxury to be selfish.  Whatever your ‘life season’ it is worth exploring your strengths and pursuing your passions.  Don’t let those that have given in to the rhetoric that we can’t have it all.  Life may be messy – but my passion speaks to me…guides me.  Passion rules me. And I must obey.

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