Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Finding Strengths

Written by: on January 11, 2024

About 10 years ago it seemed that everyone I knew was obsessed with “Strengths Finder” as a self-assessment tool. It never excited me the same way that Enneagram or Extended Disc has done, but I still remember three of my top strengths were Responsibility, Learner, and Strategic. Those strengths, and their corresponding shadow sides provide a framework for my current and future abilities to read, take notes, and write in my doctoral training.

One of my so-called ‘strengths’ Responsibility seems like a boon for academic work, but the shadow side has potential to hinder.  Overblown responsibility drives me to read every single word of assigned text out of duty.  During my Master of Divinity there eventually came times that I had to skim a text, or even skip an article. Other than vague concern over having possibly missed something, nothing truly bad happened as a result. In fact, something good happened, it helped deflate my perfectionistic pride. I knew I could not approach the DLGP program without more suitable methods, but I remained skeptical of my own ability to change. Thankfully, another strength can help.

Being a Learner means I just love learning new things. Sometimes, people ask about hobbies, mine is collecting knowledge and information. This week I learned Inspectional Reading and feel excited about how it will equip me for DLGP, and that it has potential to dent the stacks in my office…the stacks that loom and shame me for spending money to buy books that never get to fulfill their purpose of filling me up with more knowledge and ideas.

As a Learner I initially approached the DLGP with both excitement and terror accompanying my expectations. I was excited at the prospect of shiny new knowledge and equally terrified about my ability to effectively store and make use of what would be coming my way, especially in terms of delivering large writing projects. Until now, I did not how organize myself to translate learning into notes into writing in an efficient and effective manner.

The third strength is Strategic. Usually, being strategic means that I can see the most direct way through complex problems, but when it comes to writing that has not been true. My many ideas and various notes lacked both an organizational system and a reading system, therefore, writing was often convoluted and painful. Even though the finished products were good, the route was torturous. I appreciated Ahrens delivery of the slip-box method. Through his understandable explanation of Luhmann’s physical system I am emboldened to use a digital organizational tool purposefully. Learning about Smart Notes made me feel like I was experiencing light and fresh air at the same time. Suddenly I can see and breathe and even look forward to research and writing for DLGP.

It is like hearing a great sermon. Puzzling things are answered in a powerful way and I have received a strong call to action. May I be found faithful in consistent application of this new truth.

About the Author

Julie O'Hara

7 responses to “Finding Strengths”

  1. mm Shela Sullivan says:

    Julie, I appreciate you openly sharing your strengths. Identifying my top three strengths—Relator, Focus, and Achiever—has provided valuable self-insights, similar to your experience. I’m curious to discover the note organization tool you find helpful, as I haven’t explored Smart Notes yet.

    Isn’t it remarkable how God guides us to a point where our strengths align with our minds, seamlessly falling into the right place?

  2. I look forward to seeing how you approach the craft of taking smart notes, built through applying your strengths.

  3. mm Jennifer Eckert says:

    Excellent work, Julie. My top three strengths are strategic, connector, and learner. StrengthFinders is more helpful to me than traditional assessments, such as Myers Briggs. Who can help me with strategy? Who knows other people? Who has the futuristic strength? Knowing this means I can go straight to the person with that gift, which is more valuable than knowing personality traits.

    I am confident you will perfect the skill of introspective reading and put all those books to work very soon!

  4. Elysse Burns says:

    Julie, I share two of your top strengths, learner and responsibility. It’s good to know that there is someone who understands! When reading, I feel like I am somehow letting the author down if I do not read every word. The idea of not having the ability to read every book makes me a little uncomfortable. However, I know this will be a very good way to be stretched.

    I am also a collector of facts. I love learning just for the sake of learning, whatever the subject. I liked the way you phrased it: “shiny new knowledge.” I believe this will be the most challenging thing for me throughout our doctrinal training. I am so oriented toward obtaining information that I neglect the higher practice of understanding to be enlightened.

    Your note-taking system is very similar to mine. I have pages and pages of notes, but they are filed away on a shelf never to be seen again. There is no organization system or reading system. It’s a shame because I know there’s some really good material somewhere in those notebooks.

    Have you already implemented the Zettelkasten method? I think the highlight of my week was learning this word, Zettelkasten.

  5. Noel Liemam says:

    Hi Julie,

    I like that self-assessment tool, maybe someday i could use to identify the tools that I could work with. When I think about the qualities we have, most of the time they are like vectors in our lives. What our lives becomes is the sum of all those vectors. Thanks,

  6. Daren Jaime says:

    Julie! You already know I feel you on the transition from the Masters’s program to now this Doctoral journey! The perfectionist approach and imposter syndrome has helped to alieve some of the impending fears entering this semester. When you mentioned skimming a text and reading articles, I also sat in that space with you. Adler really equipped us and gave insight as to how this ought to be done and how we were not far off track. Thank you for bringing this to my remembrance.

  7. Erica Briggs says:

    Julie, I understand the drive for perfectionism. It’s an imperfect and quite torturous strategy. This is often my default response to work in general with inevitably delays my efforts. How will you remind yourself to leave space between your default response and the newer, improved response as you approach your studies?

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