Whether you work at home or outside of the home, many hours a day are spent on menial, mundane tasks and responsibilities and simply going through everyday routines. We do laundry, pay bills, prepare food and eat it, weed the garden, clean the house, and so much more.
Over the past month, I have had an extremely busy schedule. I have been traveling quite a bit for consulting engagements and our family has had an unusually full calendar. In these moments, I can feel like a victim of my schedule, rather than the one in charge of it. I know this pace is only for a season and I’ve learned there is a great deal of character shaping and learning that happens during stressful times. So, I’m learning to slow my Activator down and pay attention.
This mindfulness has resulted in some fun and fascinating discoveries about my Strengths amidst some of the most mundane logistics of life. These learnings have sparked questions which have been helpful in deepening my own reflective practice and in fostering deeper relationships with friends and with clients.
Think about the following three things to gain a new awareness about how your Strengths show up in the mundane of everyday life.
Think About What You Love to Do
My husband and I had a dear friend visit us recently. One afternoon, while we were in our garage, we began talking about mowing the lawn (probably because we were standing next to our lawn tractor). My husband, Jed, said, “Bethany loves mowing the grass. To her, it is like vacuuming.” The moment the words came out of his mouth, I realized they were 150% true. I do love mowing the grass…and vacuuming! Then I began thinking, “Why do I love these tasks?”
My Achiever sees each row of grass mowed or each strip of carpet sucked as a check box. There is a huge check box of accomplishment called, “Finish mowing the grass” or “Finish vacuuming,” but there are baby check boxes along the way. There is also motion attached to both of those tasks, which my Activator loves.
Question: What menial task do you love doing? Why do you love it? What Strengths might those behaviors point to?
Think About What You “Always” Do
I love calendars. When I was younger, I loved having a daily/weekly/monthly planner on hand and a wall calendar I could easily glance at. The digital age has revolutionized the calendar, making information so accessible. I am certain I look at my Google Calendar on my phone and/or laptop more than 30 times each day. A friend recently was looking over my shoulder and said, “Wow, you have a lot of stuff on your calendar.” My response back to her was, “Not really, I just document nearly everything I do, particularly for work.” I paused. I have asked clients to recall things they “always” do, consistent patterns of behavior that are very natural for them, but perhaps not to others. I spotted something in myself.
My Achiever views each “event” I create in my calendar as a something I can look back to and say, “I accomplished that today.” My Arranger can see how each task is a piece of a larger puzzle and I can easily manipulate my calendar to ensure success in each area. The Talents in my StrengthsFinder Theme of Responsibility show up in my deep loyalty to Leadership Vision, colleagues, and clients. My Responsibility and Communication Themes work together. I want to ensure I am meeting expectations, reaching my goals, and fulfilling commitments. By expressing myself through my calendar, I have a tangible means of accountability, to myself and others.
Question: Think back on the last week or two. Have there been times you noticed yourself repeatedly doing something? Has someone commented about you “always” doing something (maybe even in a negative light)? What Theme does this point to? How could you frame these behaviors positively?
Think About What You’re Really Good At
With all of the traveling I have been doing for consulting over the past month, I’ve done a fair bit of packing. I actually enjoy packing a suitcase. I lay out everything I need to bring on our guest bed, in a sequential fashion, and then determine how I will “Tetris” it all into the bag. Recently, while packing for a trip to South Dakota, I remarked to myself, “You’re good at this.” I thought about times I have asked clients to recount things they are good at or behaviors others compliment them on in order to deepen my understanding of their Strengths.
Pausing, I found myself realizing my packing pizazz flows from my Arranger Talents. In my mind, I can see everything needed for a trip, and picture it in my suitcase. I can easily pack for my entire family in this same way. I see projects, organizations, and systems in this same fashion – from up above. I’ve been told, “You’re really good at seeing things…it’s almost like you can predict the future.” Those are talents flowing from the Strength of Arranger.
Look at Your Themes
Spend a few minutes brainstorming a list of things you’re really good at.
- What Theme(s) do these behaviors point to?
- Has anyone complimented you recently?
- What behaviors were they noticing?
- What Strength(s) may have been at work?
There is much to be learned and discoveries to be made about ourselves and others in the every day and the mundane. May this post and corresponding questions encourage you to be curious and reflective about yourself and those closest to you, both professionally and personally.