Soar With Your Strengths

Soar with your strengths in 2009
When my husband began working at his current employer (a large global company), he was given this book for required “newbie” reading called Soar With Your Strengths.

… Which I’ll be honest, I thought sounded totally cheesy and ridiculous at first glance.

But after a brief perusal of the little pocket-sized book, I realized just how on to something the author was.

The book spoke reality: all too often in school or at work, we’re encouraged to fix the things that are “wrong” with us. To get better at this or improve that. Well, this book’s premise is the exact opposite.

If a student isn’t good at math, the book argues, don’t try to make her love it. Rather, let her flourish in her passion for British lit or pyschology.

If an employee is really good at Excel and administrative tasks, don’t put him on the phone making cold calls to new business prospects.

Sure, every corporate executive can benefit from media training. But that doesn’t mean that shy executive X should necessarily be the face of your company in a live interview on CNN to the world … especially not if he’s better at the written word or telephone interrogations.

If we strengthen the things we’re good at, the book proposes, instead of spending energy and money trying to fix what’s “wrong” with us, won’t we be better students and more productive employees? Better friends, better lovers, better partners? YES!

So how does this little book relate to my blog, you might be wondering. Well … I talked about using my anxiety to my advantage recently. But this goes far beyond anxiety.

I genuinely love to write, and since I was little, teachers used to tell me I was a good writer, that I had a way with words. Friends and loved ones said so, too. I used to write short-stories, poetry, prose. I’ve kept a personal journal since the sixth grade (I have about 30 of them by now). And I write whenever I have spare time.

Try as I might, I just couldn’t excel at math or science (so, naturally, I married an engineer). The truth is, writing and the field of communications was my forte, my calling.

So I got my bachelor’s degree is in international relations, with a minor in communications — which combined my love of foreign affairs with the dicipline of communications.

Towards the end of my senior year, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do profession-wise with my degree. Though I loved IR and politics, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work the policy side of things or even the academic side, but rather preferred the communications side — a discipline I could use anywhere.

So I followed my passion for the written word a little further and got my master’s degree in public communication.

(For any comm majors out there, public diplomacy, in particular, was the realm I was most interested in, but aside from my job at Peace Corps, I never got to do much with it because we moved to Michigan, far from the policially-connected, politics-obsessed city of Washington).

Today, I do public relations for an awesome interactive advertising agency, where I essentially write/strategize for a living. And, as you well know, I blog on the side.

All of which leads me to my biggest “strength.”

They always say to write about what you’re passionate about. For me, it’s disordered eating, and the side effects of weight loss that no one ever talks about.

I love that I’ve attracted a loyal, honest readership … and even moreso that I’ve been able to help other men and women while struggling with my own demons over the past six months. And blogging has been an awesome experience; one I plan to continue.

I don’t mean to toot my own horn here, but I really think with my blog, my passion, and my ability to write … that I have an opportunity to use my voice (as someone who is living the disordered eater roller-coaster); that I can make a difference in this world.

Every day I can view my blog stats and see which posts get the most interest and which people aren’t as interested in. The stats intrigue me; they have helped me become a better blogger, as I can now work to create content I think my readers will enjoy (for the most part), while still being authentically “Melissa.”

So my personal goal for 2009 is to continue to write … but I’m not limiting this strength to just blogging: I want to get a piece of my personal work published in a major online or print publication.

And my bar is set quite high: Self, Shape, Women’s Health, Health, Fitness, Glamour … one of the magazines I myself read and think its readers could benefit from my story or my words.

Initially, I said I wanted to author a book … and that very well might come to fruition further down the line (I’ve started a proposal, and am making progress on it, I promise!) but for now, my goal is a smidge less daunting: to just get one piece published.

(That whole “break it into palatable pieces” analogy I talked about months ago comes to mind here!)

Down the road, I’d love more than anything to freelance and write for women’s magazines or blogs on the side.

But for the here and now, I know this: Writing is a strength of mine, and if I could write about my what I know, my passion … I really think I’d be epitomizing the whole “soar with your strengths” notion and help others along the way. What could be better than that?

So I’m going to see what I can accomplish this first quarter of 2009.

I have high hopes, but not unrealistic expectations. I do PR for a living, so I know what it’s like to pitch until you’re blue in the face … and that more often than not, attempts are fruitless … but that persistence really pays off.

That said, rejection or inaction hasn’t stopped me from trying in my professional life, and it won’t stop me in my personal life, either.

I’ll keep you posted!

How about you? What personal or professional strengths can you soar with in 2009?


12 thoughts on “Soar With Your Strengths

  1. Great post and you are a fabulous writer. I could see you easily achieving your goals!

    What personal or professional strengths can you soar with in 2009?

    My best friend and I are doing a self-inventory right now to determine this as we want to develop some type of business on the side. I think writing, organization, and ability to see the big picture are assets of mine.


  2. Well I really liked this post. I hope so much that my blogging will help others on their journey like you are helping people. I also love to write. I enjoy the blogging. I never dreamed I would llike it, but as I blog and I see that people are inspired, it is a wonderful thing. I will keep on doing it as long as I can. Thanks for the great post.

  3. Hi Melissa.

    First off, I’d like to say that I am new to your blog. I came across it through I think you are an excellent writer, who has the ability to really connect with your readers. That in itself is quite a skill. I really admire your honesty and ability to just type whatever and however you feel. You’ve got me hooked 🙂

    Personally, I, like many other of your readers, are able to relate incredibly to your posts. It is comforting, I think, to be able to read someone else’ thoughts and say “Hey, that’s how I feel.” Particularly when one is dealing with any kind of internal problem/challenge/what-have-you. I really like reading how other people tackle problems and interferences in their daily lives in hope that I can draw something from that, to incorporate into my daily life.

    Sorry this is long, just wanted to say that I think you’re very talented, you should DEFINITELY get an article published, and I will be coming back frequently. 🙂

  4. What an awesome goal! I’m totally excited and inspired just hearing about it, and I really feel that you can accomplish it :).

    Personal strengths I want to develop and lean on this year are: my writing and my determination to get to the bottom of things that confuse me!

  5. Thanks so much, Kelly! Best of luck on your business!!! Utilize those assets!

    Thanks, Run4change. Your blogging is so inspirational; I never would have seen myself doing this either but it totally makes sense. Keep on inspiring others!

    Hi Jessica and thanks so much for coming by and commenting, too! I love MamaV’s blog and in person, she was wonderful (I met her at the Chicago bloggers meet and greet in Nov)!

    Thank you for the compliments; I really appreciate them. I hope I am connecting with you all — I love hearing feedback that I am. It means a ton.

    Thank you so much and I’m glad I’ve found a new reader 🙂

    Thanks, Ms. Turtle!! I hope so — anything the mind can believe, the body can conceive. Best of luck as you work on your writing and self-reflection.

  6. What a great, positive post! I’d love to be a freelancer writer, too, and I think my strength is my love for writing and passion for connecting with people. Anyway, I guess it’s a strength when you look at it as a business asset (rather than as something that keeps me preoccupied during my 9–5!) Good luck w/ your proposal 🙂

  7. My team at church is reading Living Your Strengths and it sounds similar is some respects to the book your husband got at work.

    I want to work to see my strengths AS strengths… but also want to learn how to utilize them in my personal and professional life (aka FIND A NEW JOB, haha). According to the test, one of my strengths is “restorative”… the ability (and desire) to solve problems. This is definitely me.

  8. M – this is just wonderful! I’m so glad you have come to this conclusion. for a while you weren’t sure if your blogging was even healthy, but I know you love it and it fascinated you and those are reasons alone why you should continue.
    I love reading what you have to say and learn alot. Keep it up! I look forward to all your postings in 2009!!!!

  9. I’ve heard way too much about the pro-ana and pro-mia sites out there, and they deeply sadden me. MamaV’s post just reminded me how much of a disease these eating disorders are… more than just dieting…real sicknesses.

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