Wednesday, June 20, 2012

SOM Week 1:Monday, Tuesday and some thoughts

It's Wednesday. I'm exhausted.

The learning is AMAZING. The friendships are rad. The conversations are insightful, life giving and fun! But 6 hours of learning a day, plus homework each night, and reviewing for the daily tests is exhausting!

Each day we have class in hour increments. We start at 9am. Usually we start with memorization drills - we are learning statements from each class section which we need to memorize verbatim to receipt to Paul - and occasionally to put into written tests. Also we are learning vocabulary - 3 new words each day - words we need to know the definitions of also verbatim, and know how to put it in a sentence. Phew! We do 50 minutes of class time and then 10 minutes for break, and an hour for lunch. The classroom is a technology free zone, outside of watches. So we have our break and lunch time for phones and computers, but usually you're so fried by that time that you need to talk to digest all that you've learned. 

Normally Paul Barker is our teacher, and occasionally Nick Jones. But we've had a few different speakers, and today we had the entire Every Nation Nashville Corporate office come meet us. So far we've heard from Gregg Tipton (10 Days), Russ Austin (Pastor Jacksonville, Florida) and David Houston (EN Church consultant and Coach - co leader of churches with Kevin York). They have been excellent. 

This week we've been studying "StrengthFinders", "Inside Out Transformation", "Search the Scriptures", "Effective Communication", "Next Generation Leader", and two new courses "Christ-Centered Preaching", "Contagious Christianity" and "Preaching the Gospel in Power." The names of these new courses are pretty self explanatory and the information is amazing. Gregg Tipton, leader of 10 days, taught the last course, "Preaching the Gospel in Power" and his tales of miracles and crazy awesome happenings around the world were pretty cool. He shouts a lot though - but it sure is exciting. 

I've been thinking a lot about my strengths - and Paul's strengths. I'm "WOO (winning others over", "Positivity", "Empathy", "Arranger" and "Includer". I've also added three strengths to my bundle (that i feel really explain me as well) "communication", "achiever" and "strategic" (though strategic goes hand   in hand with Arranger). 

Woo stands for winning others over. You enjoy the challenge of meeting new people and getting them to like you. Strangers are rarely intimidating to you. On the contrary, strangers can be energizing. You are drawn to them. You want to learn their names, ask them questions, and find some area of common interest so that you can strike up a conversation and build rapport. Some people shy away from starting up conversations because they worry about running out of things to say. You don't. Not only are you rarely at a loss for words; you actually enjoy initiating with strangers because you derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection. Once that connection is made, you are quite happy to wrap it up and move on. There are new people to meet, new rooms to work, new crowds to mingle in. In your world there are no strangers, only friends you haven't met yet -- lots of them.

You are generous with praise, quick to smile, and always on the lookout for the positive in the situation. Some call you lighthearted. Others just wish that their glass were as full as yours seems to be. But either way, people want to be around you. Their world looks better around you because your enthusiasm is contagious. Lacking your energy and optimism, some find their world drab with repetition or, worse, heavy with pressure. You seem to find a way to lighten their spirit. You inject drama into every project. You celebrate every achievement. You find ways to make everything more exciting and more vital. Some cynics may reject your energy, but you are rarely dragged down. Your Positivity won't allow it. Somehow you can't quite escape your conviction that it is good to be alive, that work can be fun, and that no matter what the setbacks, one must never lose one's sense of humor.

You can sense the emotions of those around you. You can feel what they are feeling as though their feelings are your own. Intuitively, you are able to see the world through their eyes and share their perspective. You do not necessarily agree with each person's perspective. You do not necessarily feel pity for each person's predicament -- this would be sympathy, not Empathy. You do not necessarily condone the choices each person makes, but you do understand. This instinctive ability to understand is powerful. You hear the unvoiced questions. You anticipate the need. Where others grapple for words, you seem to find the right words and the right tone. You help people find the right phrases to express their feelings -- to themselves as well as to others. You help them give voice to their emotional life. For all these reasons other people are drawn to you.

You are a conductor. When faced with a complex situation involving many factors, you enjoy managing all of the variables, aligning and realigning them until you are sure you have arranged them in the most productive configuration possible. In your mind there is nothing special about what you are doing. You are simply trying to figure out the best way to get things done. But others, lacking this theme, will be in awe of your ability. "How can you keep so many things in your head at once?" they will ask. "How can you stay so flexible, so willing to shelve well-laid plans in favor of some brand-new configuration that has just occurred to you?" But you cannot imagine behaving in any other way. You are a shining example of effective flexibility, whether you are changing travel schedules at the last minute because a better fare has popped up or mulling over just the right combination of people and resources to accomplish a new project. From the mundane to the complex, you are always looking for the perfect configuration. Of course, you are at your best in dynamic situations. Confronted with the unexpected, some complain that plans devised with such care cannot be changed, while others take refuge in the existing rules or procedures. You don't do either. Instead, you jump into the confusion, devising new options, hunting for new paths of least resistance, and figuring out new partnerships -- because, after all, there might just be a better way.

"Stretch the circle wider." This is the philosophy around which you orient your life. You want to include people and make them feel part of the group. In direct contrast to those who are drawn only to exclusive groups, you actively avoid those groups that exclude others. You want to expand the group so that as many people as possible can benefit from its support. You hate the sight of someone on the outside looking in. You want to draw them in so that they can feel the warmth of the group. You are an instinctively accepting person. Regardless of race or sex or nationality or personality or faith, you cast few judgments. Judgments can hurt a person's feelings. Why do that if you don't have to? Your accepting nature does not necessarily rest on a belief that each of us is different and that one should respect these differences. Rather, it rests on your conviction that fundamentally we are all the same. We are all equally important. Thus, no one should be ignored. Each of us should be included. It is the least we all deserve.

Wow. This all explains me to a T. Well especially if you add in my extra's...but for now we'll leave it at the 5 main strengths.

Paul is "Responsibility", "Input", "Context", "Relator", "Learner"

Your Responsibility theme forces you to take psychological ownership for anything you commit to, and whether large or small, you feel emotionally bound to follow it through to completion. Your good name depends on it. If for some reason you cannot deliver, you automatically start to look for ways to make it up to the other person. Apologies are not enough. Excuses and rationalizations are totally unacceptable. You will not quite be able to live with yourself until you have made restitution. This conscientiousness, this near obsession for doing things right, and your impeccable ethics, combine to create your reputation: utterly dependable. When assigning new responsibilities, people will look to you first because they know it will get done. When people come to you for help -- and they soon will -- you must be selective. Your willingness to volunteer may sometimes lead you to take on more than you should.

You are inquisitive. You collect things. You might collect information -- words, facts, books, and quotations -- or you might collect tangible objects such as butterflies, baseball cards, porcelain dolls, or sepia photographs. Whatever you collect, you collect it because it interests you. And yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting. The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity. If you read a great deal, it is not necessarily to refine your theories but, rather, to add more information to your archives. If you like to travel, it is because each new location offers novel artifacts and facts. These can be acquired and then stored away. Why are they worth storing? At the time of storing it is often hard to say exactly when or why you might need them, but who knows when they might become useful? With all those possible uses in mind, you really don't feel comfortable throwing anything away. So you keep acquiring and compiling and filing stuff away. It's interesting. It keeps your mind fresh. And perhaps one day some of it will prove valuable.

You look back. You look back because that is where the answers lie. You look back to understand the present. From your vantage point the present is unstable, a confusing clamor of competing voices. It is only by casting your mind back to an earlier time, a time when the plans were being drawn up, that the present regains its stability. The earlier time was a simpler time. It was a time of blueprints. As you look back, you begin to see these blueprints emerge. You realize what the initial intentions were. These blueprints or intentions have since become so embellished that they are almost unrecognizable, but now this Context theme reveals them again. This understanding brings you confidence. No longer disoriented, you make better decisions because you sense the underlying structure. 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. 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.

Relator describes your attitude toward your relationships. In simple terms, the Relator theme pulls you toward people you already know. You do not necessarily shy away from meeting new people -- in fact, you may have other themes that cause you to enjoy the thrill of turning strangers into friends -- but you do derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends. You are comfortable with intimacy. Once the initial connection has been made, you deliberately encourage a deepening of the relationship. You want to understand their feelings, their goals, their fears, and their dreams; and you want them to understand yours. You know that this kind of closeness implies a certain amount of risk -- you might be taken advantage of -- but you are willing to accept that risk. For you a relationship has value only if it is genuine. And the only way to know that is to entrust yourself to the other person. The more you share with each other, the more you risk together. The more you risk together, the more each of you proves your caring is genuine. These are your steps toward real friendship, and you take them willingly.

You love to learn. The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other themes and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process of learning. The process, more than the content or the result, is especially exciting for you. You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence. The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned, the growing confidence of a skill mastered -- this is the process that entices you. Your excitement leads you to engage in adult learning experiences -- yoga or piano lessons or graduate classes. It enables you to thrive in dynamic work environments where you are asked to take on short project assignments and are expected to learn a lot about the new subject matter in a short period of time and then move on to the next one. This Learner theme does not necessarily mean that you seek to become the subject matter expert, or that you are striving for the respect that accompanies a professional or academic credential. The outcome of the learning is less significant than the "getting there."

I think our strengths, working together, make us a rad team. Paul has the content, the discipline and the body strength to execute my dreams and arrangements. Plus between the two of us we both have an ability and love for people. 

Seriously though, understanding my own strengths and Paul's strengths helped me to understand myself and him. It has strengthened our talents, our relationships and our plans to execute goal.

Self evaluation, especially in this context, is very interesting. Not only are the questions in class geared to self assessment, but also as we talk and grow together in class we have opportunities to practically evacuate ourselves. This can be positive and negative - there are time this can make us overly introspective and possibly over critical but can also lead to real insight and help....and some fun conversations.

On to lighter things:

I like getting dressed up. We have a "church" dress code since we're in an office building.

After class on Monday we went out to O-Charley's for dinner.
It was awesome. 

Seriously...not only where there sweet rolls but also for $20 we got an appie and two meals!

Then we went shopping - Barnes and Noble and Walmart.

I got a sketch pad and markers for doodling well in class.

I bought 4 books - two dragon books, a Kristin Hannah novel and a Danielle Steel novel.
It would have cost me $70 in Canada but I only spent $30!

I also got sewing stuff to patch my purse and add a button for Paul's shorts.

We got home and relaxed.
It was lovely.

Tuesday was another full day.
After class Paul and I headed to Avengers at 4:45pm. 
We didn't realize that Tuesday was rather awesome for movie prices...
We paid $11 for two tickets and $3 for 2 small popcorns.

Also - I liked my outfit that day.

Oh and Paul found a twin.
Similar outfits - similar strength finder strengths.

This is Barry.
He's married to our teachers daughter, Jessica.
I met her when I was here for years ago and really enjoyed her.
They're both in Campus Ministry and have both been through the school.
We're having them over for dinner next week and I look forward to it greatly.

On our way home from the movies we were treated to a beautiful sunset.

Oh and this the where we're staying.

Yup...that's one long, gorgeous driveway.

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