Stepping Stones Blog

Discovering the Soul’s Agenda: Character Strengths (Part 3)

These past few weeks I have posted about the process of discovering the soul’s agenda.

The first week was an introduction to what will be my Writer’s Manifesto.

The second week focused on the first step in the process: following the Passions of our Hearts.

Last week focused on identifying our Core Values and Beliefs.

This week will discuss assessing our Skills and Talents.

I believe that God not only gives us a purpose in life, but He fully equips us with the skills and talents to meet that purpose.  In return, I am to cultivate and develop those skills to become the best me I can be. Not to become the best…. just to become the best ME.

For a recovering perfectionist Type A personality, this is easier said than done.  I am often my own worst critic and am rarely satisfied with my performance.  There is always something more I can do to improve.  But assessing my Character Strengths necessitates that I balance who I am – with the potential of who I can become.  This requires self-acceptance and a willingness to give myself a break.

To that end, I am learning not to compare my talents and skills to others – for that only fosters feelings of inferiority or superiority – neither of which is in line with a spirit of gratitude for what the Lord has given me.

While I am my own worst critic, I have come to realize that this criticism is rooted in a competitive spirit.  In an effort to be the best, I constantly judge myself in relation to others and simultaneously I am also judging them.  As my children learned reading the Berenstain Bears … it is never good to put others down (even if silently in our minds) in order to build ourselves up.  This constant striving to be “the best” has negatively impacted my life.

Instead, I am learning to accept myself for who I am without comparisons or superlatives.  I no longer wish to be “the best” or “better than” … I only wish to improve myself for the purpose of pursuing my soul’s agenda.

So In the end I developed  the following list of what I consider my skills and talents:

  • Organized (and a detailed planner)
  • Insightful / introspective
  • Resourceful (I adore research)
  • Life-long learner – and in turn, teach others what I have learned
  • Writer – I communicate best through the written word
  • Reliable – dependable – honest
  • Self-conscious and modest
  • Traditional and family oriented

Discovering my soul’s agenda will necessitate that I find a purpose that maximizes these strengths and minimizes areas of weakness.

How did I discover these personal gifts and talents?  First, I thought about what I enjoy doing because chances are if I enjoy it, I have an aptitude in that area.  In addition, I considered what others perceive as my personal strengths.  They are often more objective than myself and have helped me uncover skills that were not self-evident.  Lastly, I reviewed academic and career evaluations to see where I excelled.  These served to confirm why I enjoy certain jobs and tasks.

Next week I will share the final step in this discovery of purpose in the second half of life:  personal experiences that have brought me to the present day.

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