Wednesday, 19 September 2012


A friend sent me some links to wonderful videos about playing to your strengths last week. There is a lot of great stuff to chew on; I highly recommend that you sit down and watch them sometime. I'll post them here:

I love how Marcus Buckingham (the guy in the videos) defines strengths (things that make us feel strong and magnificent) and how he defines hobbies (things for which we have a huge appetite but little ability).

This made me think about my own hobbies. In the past, when I would list my hobbies in the "interest" section of my resume, they looked something like this:

  • reading
  • writing
  • playing piano
  • languages
  • gardening
  • camping
Kind of dull, eh? They were either things I'm already good at, or interests of mine that I'm semi-good at already. Or things where there's not really a scale of good or bad, gifted or struggling, for them. Like "I'm an amazing camper - I'm probably the best camper in my family." Who really cares? 

But I didn't have any hobbies on this list that were things where I have little ability.

So this made me wonder: why do I avoid the things I'm not good at?

Pretty easy to answer that question: because I don't like failing. Especially in front of others.

In high school I even avoided team sports, except for soccer. Because I didn't totally suck at soccer. But besides that, I ran cross country and track. Individual sports where I had no one to disappoint but myself. 

If I would have been playing guitar for all of the years that I've said I'd love to learn how to play guitar, I'd probably be a pretty mean guitar player by now. But as it is, I'm not. 

I admire my daughters, who are learning many things right now and practicing, practicing, practicing. And playing. My daughters' piano teacher emphasizes that they find a "playtime" every day for piano. Not a practice time, but a playtime. I like this slight change of wording, and think I need to bring some "playtime" into my days.

So this fall, I've chosen a couple of things to try out where I have a big interest and absolutely no skill:

  • Bollywood dance lessons. I know that my friends who traveled with me to India will find this highly amusing. I've had a love affair with the Bollywood genre ever since I traveled there in 1995. The lessons are a hoot. So much fun and laughter and stumbling around. And absolutely humongous mirrors where you can't help but peek at yourself flailing around. The whole while, I'm thinking "Wow, I suck, but this is a pile of fun." The only thing I'm really good at in Bollywood dancing is smiling. I have one plastered on my face for the whole 45 minute lesson.
  • Poetry group. I have no idea what I'm doing as far as discussing or writing poetry, but I'm interested. And I'll probably make a fool of myself. Just like Bollywood. Only not so much hip and bum actions.


  1. Great timing! Thanks for the link and wonderful ideas to chew on. I want to pay attention to "activities that make me feel strong" ones where I feel energized and desire to learn more. I found the report card example interesting too. Lots to think about. Love

    1. Yes - especially from the teaching profession, eh? Every report card season we'd get kids to list 3 stars and a wish, remember? I don't know if I totally agree with him on that - I definitely will take time to consider any F's that might come home on a child's report card - but how can we switch our focus to the strengths, the things that make our kids feel strong - that's what it makes me think about.

    2. You said it Rebecca! I loved the three stars and a wish. I think about my own kids and where I will direct focus. When teaching, my heart always goes out to kids who struggle at school. I have this desire to find something that makes them tick, that gives them energy, a sense of "this is me, I can do this"! When a child struggles with reading, lets say, we focus more on reading. How can we switch the focus to their strengths and in that way build confidence and energy to tackle the tricky stuff?? I am covering for a Spec Ed teacher today. Thinking about my future in Education. Remembering how much I learned from and with you when we taught together. Loved working with you, Rebecca. Was so inspired by you. Felt energized and full of ideas when we would put our heads together. Thanks for that!!! What will the future bring....

    3. loved working with you too, Shauna! I learned tons from you too.

  2. I love that you are Bollywood dancing! That's precisely why I took up African dancing. I wanted to do some exercise, but I didn't it to feel like a chore. And didn't feel "good" enough to do the adult contemporary dance class (where for some strange reason I felt like I had to be a talented and graceful ballerina, which I am NOT). But African dance was so new and so different that it didn't matter - pretty much everyone was in the same boat. And it's the kind of dance that allows a lot of freedom of expression, everyone has their own style. It feels so GREAT to stomp around and flail my arms. Nonstop grinning and laughter. Our instructor is so beautiful and talented, and I look ridiculous I'm sure, but she and the percussionists are always telling us how fabulous we are. Where they are from (Burkina Faso), they say no one worries about how good they are before they dance in the circle, they just do it because it makes them feel wonderful. Letting go of the pressure to be the best is so liberating :-)

    1. Mara - I love your hobbies - African dance and the drama troupe you're part of. I've thought how brave you are to do them. By the way, our Bollywood teacher says "Nice!" after each step we learn - kind of like your African dancing instructors. Zoe in particular is keenly interested in this type of dance - and they're starting a class for kids! Fun times. :)

  3. Great post Rebecca! Gives me lots to think about...