Why We Must Find Our Distinctive Strengths

When I participate in a webinar, I am especially excited when the host provides opportunities for me to truly interact with him or her and with the other participants.

Whitney Johnson's Disrupt Yourself webinar on October 7 provided precisely that type of opportunity, and has given me lots of food for thought.

In discussing the S Curve of Personal Learning, Whitney explained its seven stages, from the frustration and unfamiliarity of being at the start of a learning curve through mastery.

I gained three takeaways from this webinar:

  1. To Dial In To My Distinctive Strength - Whitney advised us listeners to go to our LinkedIn profiles and see what our top-rated skill was. On LinkedIn, other people can endorse you for particular skills. She theorized that your top LinkedIn skill may be an indicator of your top distinctive strength. Before doing the exercise, I could not have told you what my top LinkedIn skill was.

    Drum roll please, it was:

    I really shouldn't be surprised. The reason my social media identity is Big Green Pen goes back to editing, and I have always edited in one way or another, paid and unpaid, for fun and for a living. In all honesty, the skills listing sort of tells the story of my career path over the last six years or so as managed care (my previous professional field) fell farther down the list while blogging, social media, and editing climbed higher.

  2. To Take The Different Path - In the webinar, Whitney shared the example of Jayne Juvan, who began discussing her legal practice via social media channels while social media was still in its infancy. Her fellow attorneys thought it was a waste of time, but she persevered. They weren't really chuckling quite so hard once she made partner at 32, based partially on the network she built as one of the few attorneys growing their network by social media.By all objective measures, my choice to leave my full-time job in May 2014, four months shy of my 20-year anniversary and with no safety net of another job to catch me, was unwise. It is a different path, one whose outcome still remains to be seen. But it is a path which has helped my distinctive strengths see the light of day, and has given my spirit hope, which makes me motivated to forge ahead.
  3. To Champion Disruption - When I attended the Social Good Summit in September, I heard speaker after speaker, each one more motivated and articulate than the previous one and many of whom are extremely famous, like Charlize Theron.

    One speaker, however, stayed in my mind for a different reason. She is Vivienne Harr, an 11-year-old who has raised more than $100,000 to fight human trafficking, rang the starting bell at the New York Stock Exchange for the Twitter IPO, and developed an app called Stand which allows people to find and help various causes.

Vivienne is different from me; she doesn't have all of the existential questions that can plague you by the time you're 50. I am thinking she has had her share of nay-sayers, people who say she's too young, too inexperienced, too idealistic to climb the learning curve of app development and philanthropy. I think we all should take a page from Vivienne's book and adopt her belief about disruption:

I didn't think of all reasons why I couldn't; I thought of all the reasons why I must.
~ Vivienne Harr

Whitney Johnson's webinar helped me frame my thoughts about the next steps for me as I plan for my life after my responsibilities for being my father-in-law's caregiver end and as I take on additional responsibilities with Weaving Influence. I am grateful for her perspective and will find my copy of her new book, Disrupt Yourself, invaluable as the journey continues.

I encourage you to buy a copy of Disrupt Yourself for yourself and/or a friend. As Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorsen says, "it's the how-to guide you've been waiting for."

Twitter feed is not available at the moment.