I guess what I’m getting at is that PM won’t solve all of your problems. Earlier today I was reflecting on why I felt so “blah.” At least part of it is that I look at life as a puzzle. Or a project. And I think, “if I just follow these rules and figure out the game, it’ll all come together.” But that doesn’t happen. It’s never happened. I can’t approach life as a problem to be solved. That begs the question, then, how does one live life? If it’s not a project or a problem, how do I drop my tendency to approach it like one? How can I “roll with the punches” without feeling like I am relinquishing control?
“Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem.” About a week ago, I reported that my highest theme – perhaps one of my greatest strengths – was my inclination to see situations as problems to be solved. Even without the assessment, I can attest that I view the world as having a set of issues that need to be resolved, though I think everyone feels that way to some extent. The problems I’m facing now, both personally and professionally, are beyond my current set of problem-solving skills. I still don’t know the answer to the question I posed, but I’d guess that part of the solution requires a total shift in judgment.
You could argue that I don’t really have control anyway, that it is an illusion. But seriously, though, how can I move through life without the nagging feeling that I’m screwing up or that I’m missing some big important piece of information? How do I let go?
I think I posed this question a few days ago, and I still don’t know the answer.
There is a part of me that is an organizer and a planner. I like for everything to be in its place and there to be no surprises. I want to be in control. That part of me is so exhausted from trying to be three steps ahead of life. I know that I do it to try to protect myself. It’s well-intentioned, but ultimately it just makes things more difficult.
Just reading this sentence gets me annoyed all over again. Maybe there’ll be a breakthrough if I just give up.
Maybe the blog’s goal can still be about project management, focusing on your life as the project. But maybe there’s a need to be less focused on “managing” and more focused on “living.” I legitimately do not know how to do this. But maybe I can use this blog to stumble on it.
This blog doesn’t have a specific goal yet or a target audience. I’m writing my ideas as they come. I know you need to “know your audience,” but trying to accommodate a specific group of people – at my current skill level – stunts my creativity, and it adds more pressure. Also, this is a hobby, and I don’t want it to add more stress to my life.
The 34 CliftonStrengths themes are divided into four categories
- Executing – Making things happen
- Influencing – Taking charge, speaking up, and making sure others are heard
- Relationship Building – Building strong relationships that hold a team together and make it greater than the sum of its parts
- Strategic Thinking – Absorbing and analyzing information that informs better decisions
Of my top 10 themes:
- 2 are in Executing (1-Restorative, 3-Deliberative)
- 4 are in Relationship Building (4-Connectedness, 7-Relator, 9-Individualization, 10-Empathy)
- 4 are in Strategic Thinking (2-Futuristic, 5-Intellection, 6-Input, 8-Learner)
- 0 are in Influencing
At first glance, these seem accurate. I don’t rely on influence or execution for success, though I could stand to get better at them. I consider myself a strategic thinker, but I think I have a different approach to relationship building. My relationships are based on my curiosity about other people and their uniqueness. I don’t think I build relationships to widen my circle of friends. Instead, I value close, deep relationships that create safe spaces for all of us.
According to Gallup, Intellection – the propensity, proclivity, and preference to think – rounds out my top 5 themes. One action they suggest: “Take time to write. Writing might be the best way to crystallize and integrate your thoughts”. And look at me now! I’ve often thought writing helped me organize my ideas, but here’s an objective assessment that says the same thing.
To recap, my strongest themes are:
(4) Connectedness and
I like to problem-solve.
I like to think about the future.
I am rigorous in my thought processes.
I believe everything is connected.
And I am addicted to thinking.
If I am to maximize these strengths, it seems like I should l should deconstruct my problem-solving approach and re-build it with intelligent problem-solving and decision-making paradigms. It also appears that I should create a vision of the future that inspires me but that I need to break it down into smaller milestones. I can continue to look for connections among things, and I can embrace my thinking mind and try to harness its power effectively.
My fourth-strongest theme is “Connectedness.” I think Gallup sums it up nicely with this synopsis: “People exceptionally talented in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links among all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has meaning.”
I do tend to look for connections. That’s part of the purpose for which I [re]-started this blog. I wanted to find connections between the different books I was reading. Intellectually, making connections helps you remember things better. But I think it also makes you smarter. Instead of zooming in, I like to zoom out and look for stuff in common.
I believe that this can be a practical approach to resolving political division. For example, I suspect that there are things most of us can agree on – we want to be healthy, we want to be safe, and we want to be part of a community that accepts us. This looks different for everyone, but I think focusing on the broad similarities can help us overcome political obstacles.
I also like to look for connections in books. I consume a lot of self-help media, and I see some of the same things running through – acting with integrity, balancing discipline and compassion for yourself, and managing your emotions are some of them. Some authors say it better than others, but it’s still the same.
When I consider my other themes of Restorative, Futuristic, and Deliberative, I think my new statement is something like: I am motivated by a vision of the future that I create. My ultimate problem to solve? What does it all mean? (Obviously a work in progress, but I like where this is headed).
On a scale from 1-10, how hard is it for you to make a decision?
- Do you find that you can be too careful or vigilant?
- Do you believe there’s always more to the story?
- Does that belief send you down the rabbit hole for more information?
- Do you have a habit of identifying, assessing, and managing risk?
- Do you think it’s more important to make the right choice – even if it takes a long time?
Well, you might be strong in the Deliberative theme, like me!
People who are strong in this theme are somewhere on the spectrum between thorough analysis and full-blown skepticism. Gallup places this theme in a positive light, but I think it’s important to identify when it can get out of hand. Generally, deliberation is a good thing. You don’t make impulsive decisions, and you like to set off on a path only after you’ve weighed the pros and cons.
Building on yesterday’s post:
“And if I pair this with my strongest theme – Restorative – it would seem that problem-solving would be significantly influenced by my vision of the future. That is to say that the way I can solve problems is by looking ahead to where I want to go and then deciding how to get there. Then, I break the path down into smaller steps and whittle away at the list. It’s also important to reflect on how my vision for the future changes. Then, I can refine it over time.”
Suppose I add “Deliberative” into the mix with my “Restorative” and “Futuristic” themes. I think it suggests that I construct a vision of the future with painstaking effort, all to solve some complicated, complex problem.
This actually sounds like me. As I unpack the final two strongest themes, I hope to develop a personal philosophy or mission statement that aptly describes who I am. I’ve had some resume writers get close, but I think I can bring it home.