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Finding Strength (continued) – Achiever, Responsibility

Today continues the weekly Best of Mike series with a post from August 16th, 2004. Enjoy!

Selective perception is a really funny thing. Now that I've started focusing more on my strengths and developing them further, I've picked up on people in my life reinforcing these aspects. No less than 3 times over the weekend I heard various people describe me as an 'achiever' and an 'action-oriented person' (activator). While one was my wife, the others were an old business acquaintance and someone from school. Of course, I paid the $20 on Amazon to buy this book – but whatever it takes to move forward, I'm willing to do. This is my next action.

I'm continuing to blog today about my 5 dominant strengths as highlighted by the StrengthsFinder. The 'Achiever' theme is next on the list. Boy – is this one a pain in the neck to tote around.

It brings you the energy you need to work long hours without burning out. It is the jolt you can always count on to get you started on new tasks, new challenges. It is the power supply that causes you to set the pace and define the levels of productivity for your work group. It is the theme that keeps you moving.

Yes – that explains quite a bit. As the Summer winds down for me (this is the last week before the MBA program ramps up) I find myself as a thirsty sponge. I'm looking for books to read, roads to run, weights to lift, grass to mow, and challenges to overcome. Sitting idle for prolonged periods does not suit me well.

The other theme for the day is 'Responsibility'. Here is an excerpt…

This conscientiousness, this near obsession for doing things right, and your impeccable ethics, combine to create your reputation: utterly dependable. When assigning new responsibilities, people will look to you first because they know it will get done. When people come to you for help-and they soon will-you must be selective. Your willingness to volunteer may sometimes lead you to take on more than you should.

Another nail on the head. At least it feels like a good fit. As I mentioned before, there are 34 strengths that have been identified by the Gallup Organization and your 5 dominant strengths can be found using the StrengthsFinder. I highly recommend the book Now, Discover Your Strengths to help you identify your strengths and learn how to grow them, rather than focus solely on your weaknesses.

Finding Strength – Activator

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.

Mike Schubert Version 3.0

The great thing about the Internet is the ability to start over. The hard part is starting over. There is a lot of content that I have generated over the past few years, and just because I am changing platforms does not mean I should have to leave that content behind. 

If you check out using the Wayback Machine, you will see a couple of different iterations on a website and a blog. I have come to realize I do not really need a website with a given structure per se. Rather, all I really need is a web presence that allows me to capture my thoughts, share some experiences (code, triathlons, projects, marathons, etc.) and experiment with code.

So Why Change?

I believe in reevaluating everything. In this case, my original site was a blend of HTML and the Movable Type blogging engine. That blend was a decision I made in August of 2004 when I started working on my MBA. My needs at that time were something simple that would let me get my thoughts out. Over time, I dabbled in writing add-ons and such, but the base platform was Perl and that language is not one of my strong points. Nor did I want it to be.

I am primarly a J2EE, or I guess now I'm called a JEE, engineer and architect when it comes to enterprise applications. However, I have a background in C, C++, and C# (not to mention LISP, Pascal, 8086 Assembler, and a few other languages I have limited recollection of). As a hobbyist, I prefer the .Net platform and as such I chose it to support version 3.0 of my site. On top of that, the BlogEngine.NET platform and community seems robust. I should be able to leave the plumbing to them and focus on advancing thoughts around technology, business and sport.

I am not sure where version 3.0 will take me. I have wanted to experiment with semantic web technologies as well as richer experiences. I also want to spend less time worrying about format and more on content. When I first started blogging my vision was around distributing thoughts and collaboration to the edge of the network. Then Facebook, MySpace, etc caught on and people were driven to these centralized sites. My gut tells me there is a growing movement around establishing personal points of presence on the net and turning it into a hub for this other content. Markup like APML, FOAF and SIOC (pronounced like SHOCK) will gain momentum and a new breed of social networking will take off based on machine intelligent affinity. Then the marketers and hackers will catch up and it will all be ruined. Tongue out

In any case, Mike Schubert v3.0 is launched. Let's see where this goes.

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