I wrote the other day about the problem of shifting platforms, updating software and changing directions. I looked back over some of my old posts and found some that really bear repeating. So with that, I launch the Best of Mike series. For the next few Sundays, I will repost an entry from the past in its original form. If I have any updates to post or thoughts I will either note them editorially or put them in a separate post.
Today's Best of Mike article comes from August 15th, 2004. Enjoy!
Finding Strength – Activator
People spend a lot of time focusing on their weaknesses and trying to overcome them. What if we spent more time on our strengths? Maybe this is part of the secret to becoming a C-level executive. For a long time, I've felt that while there is a time and a place to be a subject matter expert, there are plenty of other times when your decisions are made on the expertise of others.
I recently read Now, Discover Your Strengths. The Gallup Organization has interviewed over 2 million people to ascertain traits of people and categorize them into 34 different attributes. This book is based on that research, and includes 1 usage of the survey at the "StrengthsFinder" website. There are 180 pairings of statements from which you choose the one you agree most with. From this, 5 dominant characteristics bubble to the top. Over the next few days, I'll share my results with you.
The first of my five dominant characteristics is "Activator". I agree with this one. They characterize the activator as someone who knows that only action is real and that action is the only thing that will get things done. The description is quite lengthy, but this section particularly strikes accord with me:
Others may worry that "there are still some things we don't know," but this doesn't seem to slow you. If the decision has been made to go across town, you know that the fastest way to get there is to go stoplight to stoplight. You are not going to sit around waiting until all the lights have turned green. Besides, in your view, action and thinking are not opposites. In fact, guided by your Activator theme, you believe that action is the best device for learning. You make a decision, you take action, you look at the result, and you learn. This learning informs your next action and your next.
Holy cow that's dead on. This reminds me of the "Extreme Programming" paradigm. It also fits in pretty well with David Allen's Getting Things Done program. I don't always know what every single "next action" is that needs to be done to get a project completed. I know milestones and function points along the way, but there may be some minutiae that has to happen that doesn't show up on any project plan and isn't apparent until you're sitting at that next stop light.