strengths and historical context…

I’m sad I missed this last Thursday’s #sachat on utilizing Strengths on campus and in our positions, as being new in my position, I have seen my strengths showing up often.

My top strength is Context, which means I like to know about the history of something, and all the details that made what something into what it is today. When I first did Strengths Quest, I felt this mesh with my personality and approach extremely well, and may have helped to explain my first semester switch in college from Physics to History. I never looked back from that decision and have always appreciated the methods and skills my history major taught me, finding excitement in the discovery of details that up until college had been glossed over and ignored in the interest of speed and teaching to the test.

Back to what is happening now though. In my position at MIT, in the Student Activities Office, advising many major programs and event registration as well as Class Councils and the closest thing MIT has to a programming board, I spend a lot of time relying on policy and procedure to make my decisions. However, I have found myself asking more and more often about how and why policies and procedures came to be, and whether the modern state and path of student life at MIT still supports that policy.

Faced with new people and new situations, it will take you a little time to orient yourself, but you must give yourself this time. You must discipline yourself to ask the questions and allow the blueprints to emerge because no matter what the situation, if you haven’t seen the blueprints, you will have less confidence in your decisions.

Now, thinking about context and my experience here this week at ACUI International 2013, a second part of the context strength has come to light for me as I consider the path I wish to take in student affairs and ACUI.

You become a better partner because you understand how your colleagues came to be who they are. And counterintuitively you become wiser about the future because you saw its seeds being sown in the past.

As I think about what path I want to forge for myself, or really, what the variety of paths are that lay in front of me, my sense of context truly informs how those paths look. When I meet and get to know colleagues, I am most eager to hear the story of their paths and the lessons they have learned from previous experiences, meshing those thoughts and insights into my own decision making on where to go next and how to build my professional self. I know that there is always learning to be had, but at the same time, I want to ensure I am moving forward in a way that both challenges me to think bigger and faster than before in addition to allowing me to utilize and tap into a developed proficiency on various subjects. Seeing the history of others, the history of past triumphs and missteps and the lessons learned from both better informs my own paths, and really allows me the confidence to pursue new opportunities, whether at MIT or in ACUI.

This post is probably a bit disjointed, as it was written in an airport and a hotel, on my IPad. I apologize for any rambling or misspellings, and for the lack of an awesome gif.


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