Developing Talents and Strengths — Part II

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(Part II is continued from Part I. Both posts are about the book Now, Discover your Strengths.)

* * * * * * * *

The chapters are short and segmented into mini-chapters, making a good mix for an easy and light, yet thought-provoking read. Combined, they all point to the authors’ philosophy that our talents, knowledge and skills combine to create our strengths.

One Chapter 5 segment is titled “Why Should I Focus on My Signature Themes?”*  Other segments are titled: “Not all of the phrases in the theme description apply to me. Why?” “Why am I different from other people with whom I share some of the same themes?” “Will I become too narrow if I focus on my signature themes?” “How can I manage around my weaknesses?” “Can my themes reveal whether I am in the right career?”

Fall 1996. Marcy Sparks (Northwest Elementary building principal) and I (media specialist, with the scissors) are pictured celebrating the "ribbon cutting" for Northwest Elementary's (Ankeny, Iowa) first Macintosh computer lab. We are in the lab; the library is on the other side of the pictured door. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Back to my formal teaching career (mentioned in Part I) … Paula Lee was my first building principal in Ankeny (for years 1 and 2 out of my twelve years there). Marcy Sparks (pictured above) was my principal there for the next eight years (for my years 3-10). Their formal evaluations, notes in my mailbox, and verbal communication including genuine caring about ME (one of the signature themes for both of them just has to be “empathy”), had a way of focusing on my strengths. They made me want to keep on keepin’ on.

Don’t get me wrong. If I or others needed redirection, they gave it. But their overriding focus was on strengths. Although I didn’t realize it then to the degree that I do now, they (especially Marcy because I was on her teaching staff longer than I was on Paula’s) were both empowering influences on my teaching career, and therefore my life.

Am I glad I’m reading the book? Yes. Is everything it reveals news to me? No, but it does blow some dust off my brain and I think will help me (and those around me) get more out of my strengths. Will the book do my thinking for me? No. (Duh! But some people expect a book to do just that.) Do I recommend the book? Yes. However, I’d get the newer publication: Strengths Finder 2.0: A New and Updated Edition of the Online Test from Gallup’s Now, Discover Your Strengths.

*I think of the authors’ meaning for the word “theme” to be similar to the meaning of “strength.”

(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 II”

  1. glennmarkley@msn.com Says:

    Louise: Guess they used Mac computers in the public sector early in computing, I made a choice to go with PC. It sounds like you had teriffic leadership while working at Ankeny, I have found that what they did is a winning combination for helping people empower themselves and grow. That Marcy is good looking also.

  2. Louise Gunderson Shimon Says:

    Glenn: Not only did we have the Macs at school at that time (now-ancient LCs and newer) but we had the Apple II computers before that. At some point we transitioned to the Windows operating system throughout most of the building. As I recall, cost and applications used were two of the driving forces. It was a change for many staff members, but they transitioned pretty well; many already had Windows PCs at home.

    Your word “empower” is perfect. When Clara gave the book to me, that is a word she used for effective administrators — empowering — which Marcy definitely was.

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