Strengths and Personality

“These differences are exciting for two reasons: 1) it explains why these strange others function the way they do, and 2) it lets us know that someone else finds energy and joy in doing tasks we find tiresome or difficult.  In short, we need each other.”

Immanuel Staff Team’s agenda changed a bit this week.  We decided to revisit Strengthsfinder, which is a test we have all taken that tells you, surprise surprise, your strengths. It is a good sign that we are once again stepping into this test because it means we are doing more than thinking about how to handle the pandemic.  In general, I would say that in the last week or so I have felt a shift from adjusting, to anticipating what might be as we move forward and out of pandemic mode.

We do Strengthsfinders as a team because though there are 34 themes, as they are called, you can’t have them all at the top of your list.  And since it is a ranking list, some have to be at the bottom too.  For example, three of my five top themes are in Ruth Ann’s bottom five, and vice versa, three of her top five are in my bottom five.  Which is a long way of saying we fit the cliché “opposites attract”.  As a staff team, we will chart our collective top fives and see that as a group we have a vast array of abilities.  These differences are exciting for two reasons: 1) it explains why these strange others function the way they do, and 2) it lets us know that someone else finds energy and joy in doing tasks we find tiresome or difficult.  In short, we need each other.

I am guessing that the idea of needing each other is not a hard sell right now.  If ever there was a time in life when we know we need each other it is now, because we can’t be with each other.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the grass is greener on the other side of the fence when you are not allowed to go through the gate and get a closer look.  (That is a little known fuller version of that last saying).

We need each other. Even introverts need other people.  In fact, introversion (and extroversion for that matter) are much misunderstood realities.  For one thing, as with most labels, applying them often makes us think we know what is in the box.  Just because it says “kitchen utensils” on the outside doesn’t guarantee that someone didn’t put books inside.  I test “extrovert” though I used to test “introvert”.  Basically I am not strong in either direction.  We are all on a continuum.  It is probably better to say more introverted or more extroverted.

I would also suggest that there are different kinds of introversion and extroversion.  There is extroverted thinking – people who don’t know what they want to say until they start talking it out.  I know someone who often starts talking on one side of an argument and without any input or interruption from others may land on the other side before stopping.  I also know extroverted feelers (same thing except with feelings) and extroverted experiencers.  An extroverted experiencer did not really enjoy something until someone else has heard about it.  

Introverts come in a variety pack as well.  Some are quietly processing on the inside and won’t share unless asked.  Others are very expressive of thought and feeling with people they know, but not interested in connecting with more and new people.  Still others keep their feelings to themselves but express their ideas readily.

I wonder if, in the end, all of us both gain energy from being in some circumstances with some people while at the same time all of us need time away from others to rejuvenate.  All of these personality preferences and strengths tests simply help us understand that we are unique and that our uniqueness needs to be complemented and completed by the variety of other unique people around us.  Again, likely not a hard sell at a time like this.

ES