Thursday, November 6, 2008

Strengths and Weaknesses

Before I get to the main topic, I thought I would share three things I saw on the way home from work today (Wednesday) that helped take my mind off the same old commute.

First, a dog in the Toyota 4Runner in front of me simply could not stop pacing back and forth in the rear cargo area. It kept walking from the driver to the passenger side and back again, stopping every so often to stick its head out of the window. Why do dogs like to stick their heads out of car windows? This one was so restless I couldn't help but laugh.

Next, while waiting for the light to change at the end of the off ramp, I noticed the two cars in front of me had synchronized turn signal lights. How often to you see the lights blinking in unison on two different cars? I watched it for more than a few seconds and they stayed right with each other. I'm going to suggest that this become an event at the next Olympics.

Finally, closer to home a peacock ran across the street in front of my car. They come from the Arboretum. At least they have enough sense to speed up when they see a car headed towards them, unlike pigeons. Seeing several of them zip across the street at the same time reminds me of those freeway signs that are posted down near San Diego way.

Coincidence? I think not. In some strange way these are connected and there's a story there somewhere, lol..

Onto the real topic for today's entry...

One of my October choices to review for the Amazon Vine program was "The Truth About You: Your Secret to Success." Written by Marcus Buckingham, whose expertise is coaching people to discover and utilize their strengths, it consists of a book, DVD, and small notepad.

I like reading books that go about assisting the reader to discover his or her aptitude for various career choices; I find it interesting to see what they say is the path for me. I suppose one of these days I ought to listen but I find it more enjoyable to pick up another one of these books in hopes that there will be that magic bingo formula providing the revelation that perfectly matches me to my ideal calling in life, as if I haven't figured it out yet.

What's nice about this particular book is that it is short. Since they all say pretty much the same thing (to which you will probably ask, then why do I read more than one?), better to use less words than more. What's just a little bit different in this one are:

Buckingham says that your strengths are not necessarily what you are good at, nor are your weaknesses necessarily what you are bad at. Rather, a strength is what you really enjoy doing, something that makes you feel good and satisfied afterwards, or something you look forward to doing even though you may not excel at it. Weaknesses are the opposite. That bucks conventional wisdom that says do what you are good at, making use of your talents, without giving due consideration to whether or not you actually enjoy it. It just assumes the two go hand in hand when really, they don't always.

The other difference is the package comes with a notepad. You're supposed to carry it with you and whenever you do something that really gets your blood flowing, write it down right then and there. When you do something you really dislike, write it on the other side of the page, right then and there. There's 24 pages. When you have filled them up, these are supposed to be used to give you some idea about what your "strengths" and "weaknesses" are.

It's a $29.99 package that Amazon sells for $19.79. Is it worth it? You're paying for the DVD, the silly notepad that you could buy at the 99 Cents store, a 100 page book and a fancy binding that puts them all into one package. They forgot the pen or pencil, though! I wouldn't pay that much for it but luckily it arrived gratis, courtesy of Amazon's Vine program.

Like I said, there are plenty of books on this topic floating around and I've read my share of them. I notice that many authors in all areas of non-fiction (and fiction too), simply repackage the same material under different titles and rearranged chapters. But they all say basically the same thing. Is there really anything new under the sun?

If they all say the same thing, then why do people keep buying them? Because we all have hope that one of them might have that big revelation the others didn't? Because it helps us string out our period of procrastination? Because we buy gifts for other people? I wonder what percentage of books that are purchased are actually read.

Anyway, I already know what excites me and what doesn't, what my passions are and aren't. I guess what I really need is a book that puts my finger in the wall outlet to shock me into action and actually DO something about it! Either that or a kick in the pants will help..

We should all take the path that makes us feel the earth move. Like this person, whom I very much admire, has done.

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