|NCFDD Newsletter - June 2014|
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When It Comes to Mentoring, the More the Merrier
Find Your Genius:
I believe there is GENIUS in EVERYONE.
The truth is, most people are looking in the wrong places for their unique genius. They are looking exclusively at their work life - instead of their whole life - to find their genius. And it's why so many people struggle to identify it.
There are many places to look for your unique genius. Here are three clear, but often surprising places you can look:
Genius Clue #1: What You Do Terribly?
While it sounds a little funny, looking at what you're not very good at often points to your genius, IF you look at it the right way. For example, I worked in the corporate environment for over 12 years and completely sucked at playing office politics. It wasn't because I thought that I was "above it all". I just get confused when people don't say exactly what they mean, or mean exactly what they say.
I also completely suck at poker. I am terrible at bluffing or understanding when someone else is, so I lose all my money in the first 5 minutes. I love the idea of playing poker. But the reality is I'm terrible at it.
Let's look deeper. The reason I suck at office politics and poker, and any other thing that requires you to say something other than precisely what you mean, is that I Have No Filter. And guess what, one of my pillars of genius is that "I Have No Filter".
In order to excel at my work as a coach, I need to understand the raw, unfiltered truth. That means I ask my clients lots of detailed questions, to get past their surface story and get to the unfiltered truth. I do this because my clients' nuggets of gold lie in the unfiltered truth. In this way, my pillar of genius (I Have No Filter) is one of the my most powerful assets on my work. Just ask any of my clients who have experienced it, and nailed their genius because of it. So take inventory of what you suck at. If you look closer, you may find that your genius is hiding there.
Genius Clue #2: What Agitates You?
Often what drives you nuts points straight to your non-negotiable values and behaviors. These are core to who you are because you just don't know how to be any other way. For example, let's say poor customer service drives you totally nuts. You have a bad customer service situation, and your family and friends hear about it for days. You post it on Facebook. You wake up in the middle of the night thinking of how that company "should have handled the situation", and write it down on the notepad beside your bed.
If you're a professor, you might think to yourself "students are not customers, so this has nothing to do with creating a vibrant learning community in the classroom (i.e.: my job.)".
Not so fast, genius. It likely has *everything* to do with your genius.
If bad customer service drives you batty, is it possible that every single policy and process in your classroom is tight as a bow? You run a tight ship and when students are displeased, you're effortlessly able to turn their complaints into learning opportunities? Your TA's are fully empowered to do whatever it takes to support student learning. And your evaluations consistently sing the praises of your content, your TA Team, and how much you make students feel valued, seen, and heard as learners in your classroom.
Is it possible that if you wanted to, you could train others how to run large lecture course that provide great learning outcomes and a positive experience for students? You betcha. Is it possible that students sign up for your class in droves - partly for the great content - and partly because they know they will be treated like GOLD? Does that differentiate your courses? Of course it does. So look a little closer at what agitates you because your genius may be hiding in what drives you completely nuts.
Genius Clue #3 - What Are Your "Quirks" and So-Called Flaws?
What do your best friends, partner and family members rib you about (hint: it's usually accompanied by eye-rolling, and statements like "You're so (fill in the blank: ________ chatty/analytical/detailed)?
Listen closer - their ribbings are helping you identify your unique genius. It could be that you're the one who creates 20 spreadsheets for a family camping trip. Or, you have to have your entire home organized and labeled. Or, like me, you ask overly personal questions to complete strangers, whether it's a taxi driver or someone in the elevator.
Is it possible that your approach to leading your department is more powerful because you somehow analyze and organize data differently than others? Do you create spreadsheet tools for your faculty committees, staff, and events that organize everything they need to do? You might think "well that's no big deal". Quirks never seem like a big deal to you. But they are most likely the exact reason why people rave about you as chair. They love those spreadsheets that come from the same source that your family ribs you about. In other words, work your quirks! They are pointing straight to your unique genius.
What would happen if you got serious about finding your pillars of genius by looking in these surprising places? It's Simple. You'd set yourself up to find your unique genius and use it to serve your students, colleagues and campus in a way that you -- and only you -- can.