Maurice Gibbons (c) 2008 Personal Power Press International
The next activity, #4, is new as of November 2008. This section, Becoming Self-Directed, will be developed over the next few months into approximately 25 units.
Each of us has the potential for genius, not if we are lumped together and tested on the same body of facts, but if we are able to gather our strongest features and use them strategically on tasks that we choose. That’s what this section is about; finding the strengths and resources you have available when you are deciding what to do next. Drawing on your resources—playing to your strengths—greatly increases your chance of success, and if you work hard, you may well become a genius at what you choose to do.
You have far more personal resources than you think. We are not only going to start identifying them, we will soon be adding to them. We will be adding skills and strengths and experiences at a surprising rate, but first we need to see what you already have, and that will be a lot, I assure you.
Taking a Positive Approach
This search doesn’t work very well up hill. That is, if you don’t believe that you have great potential and move toward it with confidence, it will be difficult to make the kind of progress that I want for you and, I hope, that you want for yourself. So, if you feel doubtful, let’s go to work on that right now with one step that will begin the journey we will take together to positive, powerful expectations for your own success.
What we say to ourselves about ourselves influences our performance; it’s often called self-talk. Saying, “I’m no good at this. I’m going to fail. It’s too difficult. If I quit now at least I won’t be embarrassed,” or anything like that is self-talk that works against you. You can intervene and change it with forceful thinking, and you must in order to start being successful. So make a positive mantra like our slogan—“Yes, I am (a person who can do this and do it well)! Yes, I can (do this and do it well)! Yes, I will (do this and do it well)!” Use this or design your own self-talk and use it. This is just the first step to success, but it is an important one. Start positive self-talk about your personal profile now: “Yes, I have many strengths, and I’m going to list as many of them as I can.”
Why This Profile is Important
So with positive expectations, let’s turn to making out your personal profile. This is an outline of all of the resources that you bring to the tasks of self-direction. It will often require some digging but that will be worthwhile for several reasons:
First, it begins your exploration of yourself, and self-knowledge is essential for self-direction.
Second, it enables you to play to your strengths, to use your own resources as a guide to your activities, and this is a great advantage.
Third, it encourages you to add to your profile, to make it as broad and deep as possible, because it is a sketch of what you can do and who you are becoming, and you want it to be a great one.
You will be using your profile, and developing it, throughout this program, and you can use it throughout your life.
Maurice Gibbons (c) 2008 Personal Power Press International
How to Identify Your Strengths
We find that many people do not know themselves very well and often ask, “How do I identify these characteristics? How will I know what they are?”
Here are some guidelines:
1. Events in your day will tell you a lot. Think about particular situations, remember what you thought and what you did, and then decide what it reveals.
2. What activities do you eagerly pursue, activities that feel good when you are doing them. What are you doing when you’re happy, when you are absorbed in the activity? These almost certainly reveal assets.
3. What dreams about the future have you had during your lifetime and what dreams do you have now? We are usually passionate about what we feel we can, or could, do well.
4. Note any patterns of repeated thought, feeling or activity and check out whether or not they reveal personal assets.
Trust yourself. This is a topic you know well, or can know well—the self in self-directed. If you have a friend to work with, you can interview each other. The last client I interviewed listed 18 skills and a similar number in most of the other categories, so allow time to reflect and dig.
Your Personal Resource Profile.
This is information to help you make your choice of interests and activities throughout this program and your life. The basic theme is to identify your strengths and play to them when you are deciding what to do. Write these headings in your journal and fill in as many items as you can. Generally, begin with the most important or strongest items. Start your list and keep adding ideas as you think of them or discover them.
A. Knowledge: What do you know a lot about?
Your knowledge may be about anything; it can come from any source, such as, experience, authorities, work, reading, a course, television, a pod-cast, experiments, study, a speech or a conversation.
Examples: “animal diseases,” “healthy diets,” “bringing up children,” building with stone,” “local history,” “karate,” “musicals,” “surviving on the streets,” “welding robotics,” “hunting.”
B. Skills: What do you know how to do well?
These may include skills developed and used at work, around the house, in sports or games, at your hobbies or recreational activities, or in anything else that you do.
Examples: dog training, laboratory experiments, finding bargains, swimmer-competitor, reading fast and remembering, managing household finances, chairing a committee, watercolour painting, laser technology, growing things, day-trading stocks.
C. Your Strengths: Identify any personal characteristics that contribute to your success and productivity.
Examples: "I’m very disciplined about pursuing my goals,” “I take charge,” “Generally positive about things,” “My faith sustains me,” “I’m a good communicator,” “I play to win,” “I’m careful; I like to think things over before I make my move.” “I’m sensitive to others.”
D. Your Abilities: What kinds of things do you have a talent for, or believe you have, if given the chance to use it?
Examples: "I have the ability to fix things.” “I relate easily to other people.” “The only thing I’ve ever thought about doing is soccer,” “I seem to be able to help disturbed people.” “I think I could run a large organization if I had the opportunity.” “People tell me that I’m a natural at music, especially singing;” “I thrive in the outdoors.”
Don’t worry about overlapping entries between any of these categories.
E. Your Interests: What kinds of things do you like to do; what have you dreamed of doing; what is your vision?
Examples: “I have always dreamed of having a small shop selling children’s clothes that I design and make (maybe not all of them) myself.” I’ve never traveled beyond this continent; I’d love to travel to some exotic place and work there.” I want to make a lot of money and live a rich lifestyle.” “I want to meet a partner to love and be loved by.” “I’d like to make a difference by helping others,” “Spiritual. I need, I want, to be more spiritual.”
F. Your Experience: The things you have done in your life.
What have you done that equips you for future tasks you choose to pursue, or has opened the doors of possibility to you? What experiences were compelling, exciting? What have you done that you might build on?
Examples: “I canvassed in a political campaign.” “Army cadet corps.” “During college, I worked in a research laboratory.” “High school football.” “I teach history,” “A group of us taught old people computers.” “I spent 30 days in jail for drunk driving,” “Greg and I hiked a quarter of the Appalachian Trail.” “I wrote a column in the local newspaper years ago,” “I volunteered in a nursing home.”
G. Your Category: A category you want to add to this profile.
If there is any other kind of data you want to add to your profile, add it here. Include anything that prepares you for action or would support you when you take action.
Examples: Sculpture is one of my hobbies and is a separate category of assets that I have to work with. It includes such items as modeling in clay, sharpening tools, shaping wood, creating ideas, a shop and equipment, mounting an exhibition, developing a portfolio, and so on. If there is a category that has equipped you with a number of resources, add it here. Someone suggested, “Why not a category of questions I want to answer?” Why not?
Identify and Use Your Strongest Abilities
In each category, look over the list you have written down, identify the features that you consider to be your strongest, and mark them with a highlighter. These are the key assets you can depend on whenever you are preparing to take action. When it is time to act, these key features will outline the productive resources at your disposal, what we could call your “productive personality.”
I invite you to use this profile whenever we turn to action during this program, and whenever you are making choices in your life. To begin using it now, look your profile over, paying special attention to the key features that you highlighted. Identify any themes that stand out, and with those in mind, name several activities that you might pursue. Name three to five in your journal and then select one activity that you find especially attractive.
Here is one example: Bill sees that one of his interests is “Helping others” (E), and that he is “Sensitive to others.” (C) He also notes that he “Relates easily to other people.”(D) Taking these together, Bill sees the theme of working with others clearly outlined. When it comes to action this will be a serious guide to his choices. The possible activities he worked out included...
Taking a course in interpersonal relationships
Working as a volunteer in a local drug rehab program
Becoming a group leader in a spiritual study group at church
Asking a counselor for guidance on improving his relationships at work
Devoting time to improving his relationship with his children
Bill decided that working with a group at church was the most attractive choice for him right now, but he also realized that all five of the activities seemed interesting to him. Looking at his profile again, Bill found three other themes and cited them in his journal for future reference.
A Summary of Work with Your Profile
1. Identify the features in each category of your profile that are your strongest. Three to five strong features is a useful guide to your choices.
2. Search your profile for the themes for action that are suggested, especially by the key features you have highlighted. One of Bill’s themes, for example, was relationships.
3. Identify three to five activities you could pursue following the theme that interests you the most.
This is a lot of work, but when you are finished, you will be well prepared to move forward in self-directed activities. And it is about a subject we all know well—ourselves.
Footnote: You may find Now, Discover Your Strengths (2001) by Buckingham and Clifton useful. They outline 31 strengths that emerged from their research.