Category Archives: 100Things

2. Strengths and Talents

No, not for a talent show!

It’s amazing that most of us get through 12 or more years of education without ever identifying our strengths and talents. We step into the work world with “an education,” but often without a clue what we like to do or are good at. It’s well worth doing an assessment or two! And repeat the process for time to time.

My quick definitions (probably taken from Marcus Buckingham):

Talents: automatic, what you were born with
Strengths and Skills: things you learn

Now, Discover Your Strengths
First Published 2001

Most character habits and values are LEARNED! Strengths and habits are LEARNED. It’s great to build on what you were born with, but most valuable things can be learned. Things that fit or talents are the easiest to learn.

Two Aha ideas:

1. It’s incredibly easy to fail to recognize our own talents, or to not appreciate them. Because we are born with them, we don’t notice they are special. We expect we’re just like everybody else. The population is so diverse that we will probably never meet anyone else with our collection of talents. You are more unique than you first suspect.

2. Per the research from Marcus Buckingham and others, there are things that fit our strengths that are naturally easy for us to get better with. Conversely, it’s really hard for us to significantly improve in our areas of weakness. Since you can fairly easily get better in your strengths, don’t spend a lot of time trying to overcome your weaknesses. Mitigate your weaknesses, don’t try to turn them into strengths.

Within your Strengths, you most likely have a super-power that others don’t! Dig to find it, then use it to your advantage!

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1. Choose Gratitude

1. Choose Gratitude

“Those who are not grateful soon begin to complain of everything.”
–- Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

Years ago, I started keeping a “one line” journal, and part of what I kept track of was the best and the worst of each day. It didn’t take me long to realize it wasn’t very helpful to keep up with the worst, so I switched nearly 100% to just the positive. Even though I’ve had a life of generally positive and optimistic thoughts, this one little change ramped that up tremendously. I can’t remember the last time I had a “bad” day! Of course, since I look for the good, not the bad, I’m not saving bad memories to be remembered!

In a future post I’ll address the idea of keeping a gratitude journal but for now I’ll just mention that I have a simple system for taking notes of good things that happen each day, then also reviewing past good things as I start each day.

A choice

This sign sits in my office where I see it every day.

When I was young, I mostly accepted that good and bad things will happen each day that are out of my control, so bad days were inevitable. Then, through all kinds of influences, I learned that even if I couldn’t control the events, I could control my responses. I could choose to find the good in any situation. Imagine my surprise to discover this sort of thinking goes back to the Stoics, and probably before. A fascinating, easy, daily, read on this can be found in The Daily Stoic,

Observation (nothing scientific here, just personal observations): People I know who deal most with depression tend to focus on the bad things of the past. The happiest people I know find the silver lining in almost everything and regularly express gratitude. I don’t know that I can claim a cause/effect pattern here, but just in case, I choose gratitude every time!

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100 Things – Introduction

100 Things – Introduction

This is something I’m doing for me. Things I wish I had learned earlier, or things where I need regular reminders. No matter how much I’ve learned, for many things, I need to remind myself again. “My brain leaks.”

Compare to Marcus Aurelius and Meditations. He wrote it for himself! That’s what I’m doing.

There is a little book that’s been around more than thirty years titled All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I’ve never read it, but the title sure resonates. I often see people who seem to have such wisdom or understanding, and I wonder how I missed out on what they know. Maybe I was absent that day of kindergarten?

Mickey Mellen wrote a nice little article , about how most advice any of us have is for our own past selves. So that’s where I am … so many things I’ve learned and just wish I had learned them, and reminded myself of them, a lot earlier in life!

My hope is that this will be a collection of short articles of wisdom and practical advice for living my own fulfilling and meaningful life. These articles are designed to serve as a reminder of things that are important as I try to stay true to my values and goals.

I invite you to join me. Challenge me where you disagree. Or tell me what I’ve left out. What are your “secrets” for living a happier and more fulfilling life?

Even though I’m calling this “100” things, there’s nothing special about that number. I may end up with 1000. Or only 50. I regularly see books that have 365 things, to have one per day. Maybe that’s where this will end up. We shall see.

I offer all this very open-handed. This is for me. And all of it is offered with the simple idea that “I could be wrong!”

Just wondering, kindergarten or otherwise, was any of this taught in school?

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