Strengths

It’s Saturday and I’m lying on my bed reading the new syllabus created by Joel Williams. It’s the same syllabus I’ll be working with this semester. He’s picked an interesting reading selection for students including a web project called “This I Believe” on NPR.org. Browsing the selections online I click on a couple of topics that interest me. I read about how one woman’s father taught her to never give up in any situation no matter how hard or painful. At a moment she gave up on herself, her father never did. She is now successful in her recent endeavors. In another essay, I read about a father and son’s relationship growing deeper the day the young man drives off across the country to go to college to start anew, and the third, definitely not the last, essay I read was about a woman who pursued a career in literature because it does matter the way the arts can help us see ourselves in new ways.
You see, I’ve been away from academics for almost three years yet still held out for that full time faculty position at an accredited college despite the ever-rising stack of rejection letters I have received and the mental notes of all the times my resume and desire to teach has been ignored.

I have understood the value of writing and have shared my passion to teach to others for many years. I even call myself the Grammar Guardian. You should see my costume. I’m sure my students thought my standards were rather high for grammar because I would find every error. To ease their minds I would tell them that I had written a love letter at the end of each of their papers upon returning them. Whether they understood what I meant, I’m not sure. I have missed their ah-ha moments and triumphs as they improved.

This Monday I’ll be back in the classroom. The phone interview, only a couple of days ago, was the first in about five years. I had almost given up. Somehow the conversation was much less stressful, and I felt much less needy. I explained the type of service I have provided students through my tutoring and teaching as an adjunct professor. I explained the profound love I have to help a struggling student receive a passing grade on a paper. I have tutored my own students on my assignments before the due date if needed. Generous? I suppose. A better term may be service. I was offered the job the following day. I’ll move to a new city in two days to serve more students.

Before this fateful event, I found a website called AuthenticHappiness.org. I took a free quiz to find my character strengths. I wasn’t at all pleased at first when I received the results. My top two strengths are Love and Mercy. Mulling these over I realized that my techniques were completely in line with my strengths. I showed love and mercy in and outside the classroom. I helped students achieve their goals. It’s a wonderful feeling to know my strengths enhanced someone else’s strengths. Give the site’s questionnaire a try. You might be surprised at the results. I surely was, but also thrilled to use these as often as I can now and in my future.

Joy,
Cheryl

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The Journey

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
Henry David Thoreau

Where are you headed? In life, in your career, where you’ll spend your time? I imagined my recent vacation would be one of excitement and wonder. I, for as long as I can remember, had always wanted to see a redwood tree due to the pictures I viewed as a child. I am amazed at the height and vastness of the species. Living on the east coast all my life, I knew I’d have to visit the west coast to do so, and last week I had the most wonderful opportunity to see and touch one of these magnificent trees. The experience was a spiritual one for me; I noticed great feelings well up inside me and I shed a tear of gratitude as my friend snapped this picture.
What I learned about dreams that day inspires me to follow more of them as a way to feel like that again. A life lived in this manner would be quite a journey. Imagine if we all gained success by being adamant about attaining our dreams. Be confident, Thoreau says, in the manner of pursuit.
Press onward.
Lean into your dreams.
You may just live the life you really want.

Joy,
Cheryl

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Who are you?

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.

Henry David Thoreau

As synchronicity would have it, this quote, which I’ve used so many times, winds up as another’s comment in a discussion I’m reading through on LinkedIn. That’s because we are all connected. I’m certain you’ve all had moments, events, that seem coincidental. Don’t overlook these occurrences. Pay attention to them; they may prove more meaningful than you’d think.

On with the chosen quote. Thoreau, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, has influenced me in many ways. This time, we should look carefully at what’s been written here.

‘What you get’ implies that goals are things or heights we strive to obtain in order of some importance to us. The end result seems the final destination. What’s in it for me? Sometimes it’s the body we desire after countless days spent in the gym. Sometimes it’s the degree we’ve earned through years of reading and writing papers. The end result. Yes. Ahhhh

‘What you get by achieving your goals’ leaves out the journey, the means to the end result. Think of this: there’s a mountain over there, lets call it your goal. You could reach the top by helicopter, yet nothing is gained in this manner. Would you know the terrain to make the journey again? No. That would be like cheating on a test and ‘getting’ a good grade. You still don’t know the material, so the reward isn’t yours. You’d need to continue to cheat, but the result remains unknown as a vast canyon. There’s something about stomping up the side of the mountain a step at a time, maybe slipping a little too, that helps you understand yourself a bit more.

Think of a time when you’ve achieved something rather fantastic. Did getting the thing, the trophy, the degree, the job leave you almost with a sense of emptiness? Were you still looking for the triumph to last longer than it did? Did you ask, “Is this it?” Perhaps you’ve forgotten to stop at each small step along the way in your journey to the end result and assess what has happened to you as a person. This is the most important part of your hike to the peak. What did you add to your character on the way? Are you more efficient at time management? Did you recognize where you slacked? Will you be able to understand now how to get past the snags? How have you changed?

Try a free questionnaire provided by the Via Institute. It’s a character test. Do the test now, and at a later date (perhaps after achieving a goal, like starting a budget) to test how much you’ve improved or evolved.

Here’s the site address:
http://www.viacharacter.org

Becoming Self Aware is the first and best thing you can do for you. Find out what your character strengths are; you’ll be glad you did.

Joy,
Cheryl