Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"Make your strengths extraordinary rather than making your weaknesses adequate"

I recently heard this quote in the context of leadership development.  It is the mantra of StrengthsQuest, an asset-based personality test.  As a two time veteran of the test and the training program, I appreciate the sentiment.  And I've largely followed that advice in my own life.  I fine tune what I'm already good at, and ignore the parts of me that I have deemed hopeless.

But hearing the strengths leadership methodology stated so simply made me think.  Have we killed the Renaissance Man?  Is the world so specialized now that there is no value in being decently good at everything?

I've been told to be a T person.  Choose one thing to excel in and stay shallow in other skills.  It is the hallmark of the marketable college grad and the individualized American.

What do you think?  Is the focus on strengths to the exclusion of areas of development destroying the well-rounded person?  Comment below and share your thoughts!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Following the Pact

When I was young and foolish, I could not get my mind around traffic jams.  Why were we just sitting there?  Why don't the first cars just move already?

Nowadays, I still don't understand all the dynamics of a highway, other than a slight decrease in mph
creates disproportionately high increases in road rage.  But I realize it isn't as simple as a large block of cars, moving at the same speed.  There are entrances and exits, merging highways, adverse weather, the occasional deer.

  Not to mention drivers' personalities and motives.  While some are perfectly content to putt along, 10 mph under the speed limit, others seem to see driving on the highway as a real-life version of Frogger and get sick thrills from merging at dangerously fast rates, for no apparent reason.  Some are rushing to an important meeting, others are dragging their feet in getting into the office.  One has a sick spouse at home that they can't wait to get back to, others have a sick spouse at home that they are trying to avoid for as long as possible.

I'm none of those.  I'm a copy cat driver.  I slow down when others do, speed when everyone else is, take the detour that the majority of cars are taking.  This works decently well on the highway.

But I have a tendency to do so in real life too.  We've been talking a lot about abiding in Christ lately at my internship.  One of my key take-aways was the foolishness of comparing ourselves to other branches (believers) instead of the vine (Christ).  I don't know where they are going.   I don't know there personality, motive, experiences.  I definitely don't know what God has planned for them.  So why do I spend more time trying to mimic the growth or avoid the pitfalls I see in others rather than nourishing myself?

Driving like that would end me up in Houston instead of Lancaster.  Living like that means I miss out on my own journey and end up exhausting myself just spinning my wheels.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

How To Survive A Lecture-Based Conference

You open up the obligatory "Schedule of Events"  A quick scan reveals that all you were hoping against will be your reality for the next few days.  Hours of lectures.  A break-out discussion.  More speakers.  If they're feeling crazy, maybe even a panel discussion or two.

I'm very confident that we weren't designed to thrive in these settings.  Yet it is a necessary part of the Summer of Growing Up and so I have compiled a survival guide in case you find yourself in such a predicament.

How To Survive a Lecture-Based Conference

  1. Pretend that you have stumbled upon this odd gathering of two-legged creatures by accident.  Take detailed notes on their habitat, diet, behaviors.  Compile into a log journal--including the peculiar sounds they keep making.
  2. Make friends.
  3. Develop your doodling.  I had to graduate past my trusty triad--the heart, the balloon,  and the square house--in order to not appear completely disinterested.  Instead, trying organizing your notes in creatively graphic ways and transform interesting soundbites into typography.
  4. Eat as much of the delicious food they provide as possible.  No portion control, no regrets.
  5. Explore!  If given the time, do some adventuring wherever the conference is.  My favorite way to do this is to do a few investigative  morning runs.  You get your bearings, find neat things, and don't feel so sluggish during the 23rd keynote speaker.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Riding Solo

In this Summer of Growing Up, I have officially accomplished one of my many goals.  You'll be hearing about the rest later.

I successfully completed my first road trip by myself!  This may not sound that impressive, but given my affinity for getting lost, the mere fact that I made it to my destination within a five hour window of my intended arrival time is something that I gleefully celebrated.

Even though I wasn't able to indulge in my favorite activity of car sleeping, it went by quickly.  I became proficient in radio channel changing, food sign scanning, and meaningless merging.

Next Growing Up Goal: Surviving the Wild Topography of Lecture-Based Conferences

Stay tuned for more adventures!


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Three Sixty-Four

In three hundred and sixty four days, I will be marrying my fiance.  It is hard to believe right now, when we are literally a world apart and the future is as unclear as it always has been.

And 364 days is a lot of days.  Yet I am excited by the possibility engendered in each one of them.  On one of those days, we will decide where we are living.  Another one will mark the decision of whether my business should be continued.  There will be job interviews and decisions.  Apartment and housing contracts to be signed.  A million and one wedding details to cement.

I'm told they will go fast and I hope they do.  Yet I plan to savor them too.  Ready or not, here I come!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Cereal and Salads

Cereal. Salad. Salad. Cereal. Salad. Cereal. Cereal.  

With an occasional injection of coffee, that nicely sums up my diet from the past few days.  I'm not complaining though, I am honestly just very happy to know where food is located and when I can get it and where I'll be sleeping tonight.

Over the past two weeks, I've slept in 7 different places.  I have mastered the art of living out of a trunk of a car.  Looking back, it really was an adventure.  During my most dramatic moments, I felt homeless and rejected.  It felt like an over-privileged extension of the poverty simulation.

Confused yet?  I'll clarify my references.  This summer, I am interning with HOPE International, a Christian non-profit providing financial services to the poor across the world in a Gospel-centered way.  When I first arrived in south central PA, I attended the HOPE International 2014 Leadership Summit.  It was a great time of getting to know the staff, the other interns, learning about HOPE and God and life, and getting thrown into a simulation where I was feverishly making paper bags and giving out hugs in order to provide for my family (a group of 5 HOPE staff partners and staff).  It was an intensely emotional 30 minutes and gave me a very small dose of what it feels like to be trapped in poverty.

Needless to say, my home hopping of the last two weeks comes no where close to the kind of entrapment and powerlessness that millions of people experience worldwide every day.

This is a post of gratitude.  I am so thankful to be working with such a genuine and effective organization this summer.  I am also blessed with the surprise of a very good part-time job that allows me to do things I love and get paid for it.  I am living with some incredible young people that are constantly giving me examples of how I want to live and view life and I even have a closet all to myself now.

So long, suitcase living! Hello, breakfast munchies and leafy greens!

Until next time,