As most regular readers know, I’ve been on a journey — call it a quest — to discover my life strengths for the last five years. I’ve made quite a bit of progress, I think. The journey has caused my to take some pretty dramatic steps of faith into the unknown.
But I haven’t stepped completely into the unknown, thanks to five key resources that helped me discover my life strengths. On a recent stay with friends, I shared some of these resources with their sons. It reminded me that I have been sharing this list often of late and others might be helped by my sharing it here.
“First, know thyself.” Aristotle’s words ring more true today than ever when the wide array of options before us in Western culture can be paralyzing. For many years, I stood transfixed by the plethora of dishes at life’s buffet. Sure, I occasionally nibbled at leftovers on others’ plates while promising myself that someday I too would step up. Someday.
To be nobody but yourself in a world that is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight. ~ e. e. cummings
Uncertain of my own strengths, I waited, afraid I’d mess it up if I tried to figure out the direction my life should take. Maybe you can relate. Eventually I realized that I’m going to die whether I ever figure it out or not — so I’d best get busy.
The 5 resources I share below helped me to discover this as my life calling:
To equip Christians to think, live, and lead with abundant faith.
I just wish I had discovered them earlier in life. If you know any teens or twenty-somethings, do them a favor. Pass on this list.
My top 5 resources to help you discover your life strengths:
- In, But Not Of Revised & Updated: A Guide to Christian Ambition and the Desire to Influence the World by Hugh Hewitt. No, I’m not just listing this one because I wrote the Forward, Study Guide, and Group Leader’s Guide. I did those things because it is that good. Loaded with proven practical advice, my friend Hugh’s book started me thinking in a very intentional manner about how to use my gifts to get and use influence for Christ.
- Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton. Although not the most scientifically reliable tool out there, it is a great starting point to help you identify your strength themes. After reading the first 80 pages or so, take the on-line assessment to identify your areas of natural giftedness. Mine were ideation, intellection, input, responsibility, and belief. Out of that came my preliminary purpose of creatively questioning, connecting, and communicating in the context of my beliefs.
- The Truth About You: Your Secret to Success also by Marcus Buckingham. Especially targeting the twenty-something demographic, Buckingham included a DVD and exercises for drilling down into your strength themes. I found when I did the work of drilling down, I quickly identified both my strengths — those things I did well which energize me — and my weaknesses — those things that sucked the life out of me no matter how good I was at them.
- StandOut: The Groundbreaking New Strengths Assessment from the Leader of the Strengths Revolution I know. Again with the Marcus Buckingham! But his British accent is so cool! [insert girly giggle here] Sorry, can’t help it. He’s done some outstanding work. This latest one gets far more scientific in its results — and it is uncannily accurate in assessing what role you play when part of a team. The on-line assessment solidified much of what I had uncovered already, but gave me even clearer vocabulary with which I could talk about my contribution. By the way, I am what Stand Out describes as “The Hub at the Center.” Provider and Connector led the way on my results with Pioneer not far behind. In short, I am a catalyst who gets things moving and cares deeply about making everyone around me better.
- Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will My most recent entry onto the list is from Kevin DeYoung. It is the straightforward antidote to that life direction paralysis that keeps so many of us standing still. His practical yet theologically sound advice speaks candidly to young and old alike but is especially targeted toward the young adult demographic.
I know I’ve left a lot of resources off the list, including a lot of books by John Maxwell that have dramatically influenced my life: Thinking for a Change: 11 Ways Highly Successful People Approach Life and Work, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You, and Put Your Dream to the Test: 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It.
Dreams come true when gift sets are set on fire with passion. ~ John C. Maxwell
Start with these five as a gift pack for any young person in your life — or for yourself. It’s never too late to discover who you were made to be and begin to walk in that direction by faith.
What other resources have you discovered have discovered to help you find your life direction? Share your suggestions with a comment here so we can start the New Year right.