The Right Mum…

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"Mum" handwritten by my sweet 3-year-old

Yesterday we chatted about The Perfect Woman. Here is part deux.  Actually, this post is the one I wanted to do yesterday but when I started writing, I realized there needed to be a preamble… and out came yesterday’s musings.

So with yesterday’s thoughts in mind… here’s the next part of my story:

As I said, I was struggling to find my stride as a mother of two little ones.  I was exhausted and feeling a bit caged.

In a space of a couple of weeks, two of my favorite friends independently shared with me how they survived the baby years by establishing and following a schedule.  There is a popular book that provides a guide to get it worked out.

On these two separate occasions I listened to emotional testimonies of how scheduling brought hope to their lives.  However, as I listened, it felt like their words were caging me.

How could a method that brought these two women such freedom, bring me feelings of dread??

When our first baby was very young, my sister-in-law encouraged me with these words:

“You are the right Mother for your kids.”

Those words kept coming to mind as I wrestled with the feelings of dread about establishing a schedule.

Enter StrengthFinders.  Have you heard about it? The vision of the book is to help people identify and develop their talents instead of the usual cultural norm of helping people work on improving their weaknesses.  Tom Rath offers an idea: What would happen if, instead of having kids spend time on improving their grades in their weakest subjects, we invested in their strengths?  Instead of spending the summer improving their deficient math skills, what if they took a class for their amazing creative writing gift?  The test identifies your top 5 “strengths” and gives a personalized report about the unique way they are in play in your life.

My test results transformed my life.  I’m not exaggerating.  What happened?  It’s funny.  I fell in love with me.

At first I was surprised by my results and questioned the testing.  But over time I kept seeing things in me that the test report described.  And even more importantly, I saw my relationships and joie de vivre being affected when I tried to fight my “strengths”.

Check out this excerpt from my personalized report (emphasis added):

My #2 Strength Theme: “Adaptability”

People who are especially talented in the Adaptability theme prefer to “go with the flow.” They tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.
Instinctively, you might prefer to be an individual performer because you like to deal with things as they occur. Perhaps your flexible approach makes your job or studies a bit more pleasurable. You might be less effective when you are forced to adhere to every step or deadline of someone else’s action plan. If the plan also is outdated, your efficiency might be diminished. It’s very likely that you might have an ability to accept and deal with each day as it unfolds. You may be flexible enough to handle unexpected discoveries and situations. Driven by your talents, you may appreciate people who are not worrywarts. You might work better with individuals who avoid fretting over unimportant details. These people might approach everyday situations or crises with an inner calmness that frees you to modify plans, rules, processes, or assignments. Because of your strengths, you may be happier with life when you quit trying to control the day’s events, opportunities, or surprises. Perhaps you experience a sense of freedom when you relax and live in the moment. You might be able to deal with certain types of change better than some individuals do. Chances are good that you can sometimes be flexible about how a game is played. Perhaps having a good experience is more important to you than winning. Periodically people marvel at your ability to move on to something else after you have met with defeat.

DO YOU SEE THAT?  A schedule really IS a cage for me.  Ahhhhh!  Hello me.  Nice to meet you.

Want to know my best day?  When there is absolutely nothing on the calendar.  Those are the days when we do the most: a spontaneous outing, a spontaneous adventure, a spontaneous redirection, a spontaneous play date… taking each thing as it comes.  Also, things like menu planning are no fun for me and add stress to my life.

What about the consequences for my kids’ lives?  I don’t know what their strength themes are.  Later in life they may discover that they thrive in a scheduled setting.  But for now what I’m seeing is when I walk in my strengths, they seem to flourish too.  Thank God!  This is a much better life.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — and how well I know it.   (Psalm 139:13-14)

My top 5 Strength Themes:
1. Strategic
2. Adaptability
3. Connectedness
4. Maximizer
5. Individualization

Have you had a revelation that has brought a renewed joy-of-life for you?  How do you see your unique style and strengths coming into play in your life?  If you’ve taken StrengthFinders, what are your top 5?

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5 responses »

  1. I love the strength based approach . To me it is the was of grace for ourselves and others. I have learnt a lot about being strength based in the work i do with struggling parents helping them focus on what they do well and whotheir children are, not what they or others want those beautiful. Unique individuals to be a great tool I use in my workshops is the tree of life from narrative therapy

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  4. Justine I am in awe of your adaptability strength. I learn from you every time we speak. It is amazing how you learn and move forward.
    Today, instead of being discouraged because I am not great at adaptabity I am going to relish the fact that I rock at restoring and including.

    • Yes please! I need the fulness of life that comes when you are operating in your restorative and including strengths. Our community is better because of you. Because of Jesus in you. This is what I meant when I talked about us being so different. We don’t see things the same way and that is a gift from God for our lives. 🙂

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