The January 8th Professional Development workshop was a fun one for me. The work for the past six years with so many great people on campus with StrengthsQuest was finally going to have the anchor it needed – a talented presenter from the Gallup organization to ground this conversation in discussions about the relationship that StrengthsQuest has to Wellbeing, Hope and Engagement. The conversation inside my head shouted excitement! Most of the division was going to be there! We were going to focus on using these tools to facilitate student success! We were going to have leaders from across campus also joining us! How fantastic! One quick pause… I’ve seen this presenter before. How different could it actually be?
What was different was the conversation in my own head as I was making meaning of the information he shared. Yes, the five areas of wellbeing are still Career/Purpose, Social, Financial, Physical and Community wellbeing. Yes, I can still see the areas I need to work on glaring at me like a neon sign. What else could possibly be a take away?
The mic drop came from the presenter when he reminded us,
“Strengths Finder was never created for self-awareness. Strengths Finder was created to be actionable.”
BOOM. The connection between my “Top 5” and Wellbeing is just that. My “Top 5” (Futuristic, Individualization, Communication, Ideation, Activator) is the “how” for improving wellbeing. My task as someone looking to lead her best and most authentic life possible is to figure out how to deploy my talents to make things better. Sign. Me. Up.
When looking at how to use this knowledge in my work, I find this incredibly empowering. When Wellbeing is off, a focus on Strengths will give someone a way to highlight their existing potential to take action and make things better. (yes, this is my “Activator” theme smiling at you). An instrument like Strengths Finder helps give language to what a person may easily already know, but formalizing language to describe it makes using it to take action so much easier.
It may make me unpopular, but I’ll say it out loud. Work/life balance conversations have made me tired over my years in the field. I’m energized by this conversation, however. It helps remind me that I have the ability to take action to improve my Wellbeing and, in turn, improve my quality of life.
Dr. Cindy Kane is the Director of the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership