by Beth Moriarty, Director – Residence Life and Housing
When I first took the Strengths Finder Assessment and found out my number one theme of talent was Learner, I was really taken aback. I had some preconceived notions that made me react negatively. I thought learner = nerdy. But as a true learner, I set out to find out everything I could about my Learner theme. Initially, I thought I would “learn” about this theme and prove that it was not a strength of mine. Do you see where I’m going with this? I immediately began to use this strength. The truth is that Learner actually suits me to a “T”. I love the description from my Signature Theme Report: “You love to learn and you simply enjoy the process of learning”. Reading this I thought, wow, how did they know that about me?”
Q1: How do you define this theme of talent for yourself?
For me the learner theme manifests itself in my natural curiosity. I hear about something new and I immediately want to know more. I want to research what it means. I want to know how I can use this knowledge. Most importantly, I want to share what I have learned about whatever it is that I am currently learning about. I believe this is why I love to teach and I enjoy presenting at conferences so much. Teaching in the graduate program and presenting workshops at conferences gives me the outlet to share my learner strength with others.
Q2: When this talent is applied, what has this theme enabled you to do in your role at BSU?
It’s hard to separate my learner strength from the other themes of talent in my Top 5. I have often stated that having learner, input and achiever together help to make me a strong Director of Residence Life and Housing, however on the flip side, I sometimes feel that this combination can make me difficult to work for. How this helps to move my department forward, in my opinion, is that I’m constantly looking for new and better ways to do things. I like to read up on new trends and to be first to try to implement them. I think an example of this would be instituting on-line room selection for students. We undertook that process at BSU long before any of our peer institutions did. I like to constantly raise the bar and my learner strength facilitate that.
Q3: How is this theme of talent sometimes misunderstood?
Again I feel that it’s a combination of my learner and input strengths that are most often misunderstood. Both of these themes involve a level of curiosity. When a staff member has a new idea or project that they are trying to pitch usually in a staff meeting, my Learner and Input will often come into play by asking lots of questions. Often times staff members misread these questions and think I’m against their new idea and I’ll shoot it full of holes. In fact, it is just the opposite, the more interesting I find the idea; the more questions that I will ask because I can’t wait to hear more.
Q4: What are ways you have helped this talent to “mature” over the course of your career and experience?
Like a true learner, the more I have discovered about this strength the more I want to continue to use it and to embrace it. In my career, I have most used this strength in my role as an educator; whether it’s one on one learning opportunities with students, teaching in the graduate program here at BSU, presenting at conferences or attending workshops, I’m always trying to take my development to a new level. On a more personal level, I’m an avid reader and I enjoy reading all types of books. I seldom go anywhere without my Kindle and I’m often reading more than one book at a time.