Quit Juggling and Start Cultivating!

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Today was our second event for Cultivate Her and we had an amazing time!

I’ve never seen so many ladies that eager to be up at 7AM!!

Our topic for today was discovering your strengths (based upon Strengths Finder).

As leaders, I believe it’s so critical that we do the tough work of understanding ourselves and how we are uniquely wired.  As women in particular we have a tendency to allow a lot of other things in our lives to define us and we lose sight of our God-given gifts, talents and abilities.  It’ s my passion to help the women of Cultivate Her more fully understand themselves and use their gifts and abilities to lead well.

I shared an excerpt from Marcus Buckingham‘s latest book Find Your Strongest LIfe:

“Over the last fifty years women have secured for themselves greater opportunity, greater achievement, greater influence, and more money.  But over the same time period, they have become less happy, more anxious, more stressed, and, in ever increasing numbers, they are medicating themselves for it.”

That statement is heartbreaking to me.  It’s heartbreaking because I really believe it’s true.  I’ve begun to see this in my own life.  Our opportunities have increased rapidly and we’re adding pressure, responsibility and activities daily, but we’re not taking the pressure off in other areas.  We’re just piling more onto our already overflowing lives.

Marcus also shares in his book:

“‘Having it all’ doesn’t mean having everything, all at once, all the time.  ‘Having it all’ means taking yourself seriously.  It means knowing yourself well enough to find your purpose in life.  It means knowing what needs to change when you sense that you’ve lost that purpose.  It means having the faith to believe that change is possible and the courage to make those changes.  It means drawing strength from the relationships in your life, and, if there’s no strength to be drawn, knowing when to cut those relationships out of your life.

The conventional image of a successful woman today is that she’s a virtuoso juggler, somehow moving fast enough to keep all the many aspects of her busy life in the air at the same time.  This is a common image, but it’s also quite sad.  the core skill of juggling is throwing, not catching.  To keep every object in the air, you have to get rid of each one as quickly as possible, barely allowing it to register on your fingertips before you toss it up and away, preparing for the next object to throw.

A strong life is the opposite of juggling.  Juggling requires you to keep everything at bay, up in the air, away from you.  The secret to living a strong life lies in knowing how to draw a few things in toward you.  It asks you to be discriminating, selective, intentional.  You can find energizing moments in each aspect of your life, but to do so you must learn how to catch them, hold on to them, to feel the pull of their weight and allow yourself to follow where they lead.”

I’m willing to bet that most of you are jugglers.  You’ve learned to be really good at keeping things moving but rarely are you stopping to evaluate what you should be spending your time on.  You feel like you can’t put anything down and as a result you tap into your strengths less and less until you are not even sure what they look like anymore.

I challenge you to stop juggling and seek to understand what makes you uniquely you.

What are your strengths and gifts?

And how do you need to reorganize your life to experience the joy of leading from them?

I recommend any of the following resources to get you started on this exploration:

Now Discover Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton

Strengths Finder Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath

Find Your Strongest Life Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham

Truth About The Truth About You by Marcus Buckingham

Today at Cultivate Her we gave away a free copy of The Truth About You to everyone who attended compliments of Lindsey Nobles and our friends at Thomas Nelson(Don’t you just love free stuff?  We do too!)

I’m going to give away several more copies here on my blog.  Leave a comment and tell me:

1) Your top 5 strengths according to Strengths Finder (if you haven’t taken a Strengths Finder assessment just skip to #2)

2) What is one thing this week that you did that really energized you and made you feel strong?

Have a wonderful weekend!

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  • jan owen October 16, 2009  

    Strengths: 1) Connectedness 2) Arranger 3) I can’t remember what this was called, it was the one where you are driven to do the best, never satisfied. 🙂 4) Belief and 5) Empathy. When I took this test these made SO MUCH SENSE to me….it helped me out and explained alot.

    This week – hmmmm….this was a hard week. But I did arrange two mission/equipping trips and worked on curriculum for worship leaders to use on these trips. Getting this started was energizing.

  • Karen Davis October 16, 2009  

    I haven’t taken the test yet, but have just picked up the Strengths Finder 2.0 and the Strength Based Leadership books, so I plan to do so very soon. I would like to read his latest one after I complete these. I’m looking forward to all three.

    What did I do this week? I went to my Executive Pastor with two ambitious spiritual growth projects that were very well received and got the go ahead to proceed. I had plenty of support material and it felt good to answer all of his questions. Now on to creating a project management plan for each one. It felt good to end the week on such a high note!

  • Michelle Unwin October 17, 2009  

    Strength Finders: Man, this book nailed me. I have Adaptability, Empathy,
    Connectedness, Belief, Responsibility. Normally I take these with a grain of salt, so when we were asked through work to do this I was the typical skeptic. then I read the report that went along with it – whoa. It was me through and through.

    One thing this week that energized me: Can I pick more than 1?? Building into our ministry leaders and seeing them just run with their ministries, my daughter’s birthday party, laughing @ tv show w/ my hubby! There ya’ go. 3 big highlights from my week…

  • Emily October 17, 2009  

    My top 5 strengths are:

    This week we were able to meet the birthmom we have been matched with- she is due in 2 months. It truly energized me to be able to lavish love and kindness on her and get to know her face to face after many phone conversations. Truly amazing.

  • Jenni Catron October 17, 2009  

    So cool to hear some of the things that have energized you this week. Praying that this week you experience many more energizing moments where you can use your God-given strengths.

  • lindseyreadenobles October 17, 2009  

    Strengths – Focus, Context, Individualization, Woo and Responsibility.

    I felt strong after I pulled together a lot of details for a team meeting. Guess it fulfilled the responsibility part of me? Also, loved meeting and hanging with new friends. Probably my WOO got satisfied.

    Thanks for letting me be a part of Cultivate Her.

  • Melody Ruehling October 18, 2009  

    Wow! I just stepped down from serving on our praise team, and in my letter to our music minister, I used a juggling metaphor. To be honest, letting go of that commitment energized me. Even though I was very good at planning and leading worship services, I was over-committed. I was juggling, and when they threw one more responsibility at me, all of my plates came crashing down.
    I think even our “God-given” strengths can become overwhelming. I was definitely using those strengths, BUT I was neglecting my family as well. So I had to step back and realize that I had to let go of some of the areas which are strengths, simply to be a good mom and wife.
    I agree that we don’t have to use all of our talents/strengths all of the time. I know that paring back my commitments has allowed me to do a better job (already!) with my other ones. The seasons of life change so quickly, and with 4 young children, I need to make sure that I don’t miss this season. I will be able to step back into leadership roles as my kids grow older….

  • Jenni Catron October 19, 2009  

    @Melody – I don’t know how you juggle it all! I had no idea you were volunteering in such a huge capacity. Sounds like you made a good decision to focus in the right areas right now. And by the way, you’re still leading… a house full of little people! Your investment there is priceless. (Miss you friend!)

  • Bethany Swickrath October 19, 2009  

    Jenni – thanks for sharing this. I have recently decided to quit being a juggler and to be a potter. A potter has to be hands-on, in the project and intimate acquainted with what is happening. That’s my new metaphor.

    My strengths, (and this is from the original book) strategic, maximizer, activator, woo and futuristic.

  • Pingback: Now, Discover Your Strengths | Lindsey Nobles October 21, 2009  
  • Nicole Hawker October 26, 2009  

    What did I do this week that energized me and made me feel strong. Honestly I would have to say getting time alone with God is the one thing that keeps me energized. As a wife, mom of 6 children (3 biological and 3 fosters)and working part-time with my husband as Life Development Directors @ our church; I desperately need time with God each day!! I would love to read this book to maximize the potential that God has given me.

  • Osann Heisner November 20, 2009  

    Last weekend I took a trip back to Nashville to visit with my sister who flew in for a conference. I purposely arrived 2 days early and had that time “planned out”. Lets just say that God had a different plan! My time was free to just “be”. I spent time with God, I drove through my old neighborhood and took a major trip down memory Lane driving all over the place…lots of tears and laughter too. Just taking that time alone wih God and my own thoughts and then with my sister has energized me!

    I realize that I do many things that drain me and keep me from living the life that God has planned for me. After reading your post I wonder…if I stopped juggling and allowed all those plates to come crashing down…what would be worth picking back up and repairing?

  • Michelle December 5, 2009  

    I took the strength finder test when the book was brand new, so several years ago. My husband kept both of our strengths posted in his office, I need to ask him to tell me again. I can only remember the first one because it gave me freedom in this area (I was able to be proud of this!). I am a starter! When can we start? I have learned to surround myself with people who are good finishers.

    Something I did this week that made me feel strong is that I pushed hard to meet some deadlines I was up against. The ironic thing is that this is the opposite of my strength listed. It feels so good to finish! I am thinking it might be good to revisit the strength finder and see if I have changed over the years.

  • Kirsten January 2, 2010  

    Strengths–Ideation, Strategic, Futuristic, Achiever, Intellection

    Something I did this week that made me feel strong was go see two movies, read one novel, and start another. When I carve out time to soak in art, it feeds my creativity and I suddenly have ideas sparking out all over the place.