Developing Talents and Strengths — Part I

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The adults pictured here are (L to R) me, my dad (Deane Gunderson), and my sister Peggy with several students at Northwest Elementary in Ankeny, Iowa. I was the media specialist (now called teacher-librarian) there for twelve years. The photo was taken in the school's library* in 1998 during our "Rock 'n' Read" reading program, hence the 1960s and '70s attire. When NW Elementary was remodeled ~4 years later, including a new library, the room in this photo was enclosed and became a kindergarten classroom. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Four  years ago my oldest sister, Clara, gave to me the book Now, Discover Your Strengths. I had just left work (retired?) after 12 years with the Ankeny (Iowa) Community School District. At the time, I wasn’t really in the mood for something I perceived as serious … like that book.

Then I got busy spending so much time with Daddy and other family and friends. I had more time to spend at the lake. And, I was able to embark on raising funds for the Rolfe Public Library. These are perks, for which I am grateful, of leaving full-time employment.

With Daddy passing away in July, the cottage being closed for the winter, the holidays passing, and being caught up on most of my appointments, yesterday was an unscheduled day. I had a choice of either organizing my back-burner-to-do list or … read the “strengths” book Clara gave to me. Organize a list or read? I opted for reading the book.

Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton, 2001. I recommend this book, but suggest getting the newer version which is Strengths Finder 2.0.

The theme of the book is helping people identify, focus on and capitalize on their strengths. Strengths, strengths, STRENGTHS. According to the book, each strength has at least one underlying talent. The authors of this book have the philosophy that it is a big no-no for us to focus on correcting our and others’ weaknesses. Positive results will not be obtained. When people focus on their strengths, positive results will be obtained.

On page 79 I was instructed to take the Internet-based “StrengthsFinder Profile” which I call the book’s “test” for identifying strengths.

It took about a half hour to complete the online test. (To access and take the test, I had to enter a unique code that accompanied my copy of the book.) Each of the “questions” was actually a pair of statements, of which I had to select the one that fit me most and indicate the degree to which it fit me; or I could just click on “neutral” which I bet I did for more than half of the pairs. One of the pairs of statements included something like, “You like to tell others about your life.” Um, how do you think I answered that!

(I just deleted from this post a long description of my test results. They are interesting to me; probably boring to you. Suffice it to say that I think three of my test-identified themes/strengths are 100% right-on for me. I think two of them are 50-to-75% right-on. Of course, that’s my subjective point of view!)

In Part II I’ll include a little bit about two people in my life who I believe share the philosophy of Now, Discover Your Strengths.

* * * * * * * *

*I believe it was 2002 when we moved into the new library/media center at Northwest Elementary. It was a palace compared to the library pictured, but each had its positive aspects.

(Click here to go to Louise Gunderson Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

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2 Responses to “Developing Talents and Strengths — Part I”

  1. Clara Hoover Says:

    I’m glad you read the book and found it interesting. Rather than telling us things we didn’t know, it puts a label on things we probably already sensed and explains those strengths very well. I was not at all surprised that three of my top five strengths are Harmony, Responsibility and Learner. The key thing now is to try to capitalize on those strengths for myself and also keep them in mind when working with others and understanding their strengths.

  2. Louise Gunderson Shimon Says:

    Clara, you and I “match” on at least two (and probably more) of our top strengths as indicated by the test. Those indicated for me are harmony, empathy, maximizer, focus and responsibility. I so admire the learner strength in you. Sometimes I feel like the Far Side cartoon where the student raises a hand to be called upon and says something like, “Teacher — my brain is full!” I am learning, though, that the more I put something in context, the more it sinks in. Go figure! I always tried to apply that with students at school, but it’s taken me a little while to apply that to myself!

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