About Conversation Kindling

The purpose of this blog is to share stories, metaphors, quotes, songs, humor, etc. in hopes they'll be used to spark authentic and rewarding conversations about working and living fruitfully. There are at least three things you can gain by getting involved in these conversations. First, you'll discover new and important things about yourself through the process of thinking out loud. Second, you'll deepen your relationships with others who participate by swapping thoughts, feelings, and stories with them. Finally, you'll learn that robust dialogue centered on stories and experiences is the best way to build new knowledge and generate innovative answers to the questions that both life and work ask.

I write another blog called My Spare Brain. This is where I am "storing" ideas for use in future books, articles, blog posts, speeches, and workshops. There is little rhyme or reason for what I post there. I do this to encourage visitors to come as treasure hunters looking for new ways of seeing and thinking vs. researchers looking for new or better answers to questions they already know how to ask.

23 April 2010

Do Not Go To Your Left

When author and TV commentator Roger Rosenblatt graced us with his presence at The Masters Forum several years ago, he gave us this advice on how to live a more successful life:
"Do not go to your left."
He explained that going to your left is a basketball term for working on a weakness; a right-handed player who learns to dribble and shoot from the left side will be more effective on the court. And while this is great for basketball, he said, people who try to compensate for weaknesses in life usually get weaker.

Roger's words could easily be a one-off title for the book - Now, Discover Your Strengths - by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, or even a folksy mission statement for a human resources department. In other words, forget about identifying and correcting weaknesses and focus on building up strengths instead.

There a many ways to discover your strengths. One is to buy Gallup's book - Strengths Finder 2.0 - by Tom Rath. There is a code tucked away inside each book; you can use it to go online and complete a questionnaire that will point to your greatest strengths.

Another approach is to meet face-to-face with four or five people you know and trust, and ask them for feedback on your strengths. The benefit is you get to see yourself as others see you - which isn't always the way you see yourself. You can also ask questions to clarify things you don't understand.

  • Pick four or five people who have seen you in action and experienced your behavior over a reasonable (a few months) amount of time.
  • Meet with each of them individually, and ask what they value most about you. Listen. Ask questions to clarify. Take notes.
  • Upon completion of the meetings, sift through your feedback and list the top three things they said they value most about you - your strengths.
  • Meet with each of them again to share your findings and get their response. Ask one or more of them if they would be willing to help you further develop these strengths.
"Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig." - Robert Heinlein
"Thou shall not kill. Thou shall not commit adultery. Don't eat pork. I'm sorry. What was that last one? Don't eat pork. God has spoken. Is that the Word of God, or is that pigs trying to outsmart everybody?" - Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show
“There is a Japanese proverb that literally goes ‘Raise the sail with your stronger hand,’ meaning you must go after the opportunities that arise in life that you are best equipped to do.” - Soichiro Honda

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