Interestingly, two different processes coincided for me at the end of the year 2022. In a reading group dedicated to conscious leadership inspired by the book “The 15. Commitments of Conscious Leadership” we reached chapter 8 that was devoted to what they called in the book the “zone of genius”. In short, the idea was to reflect on what I as a leader am not only good and excellent at, perhaps even better then someone else, but were my excellency meets my passion.
Because, if someone manages to combine their passion – their natural inner drive or motivation – with being good in doing something that they have done many times over and over, or with something they just are naturally more talented in they should reach their “zone of genius” It would mean working without feeling of working. Just being their passion. Or at least this is how I interpreted the idea of what the book was trying to convey about being in the “zone of genius”.
The readers were asked to reflect on their own strengths, but they were also encouraged to ask their family members, colleagues and friends for a reflection where they experience me most energized and happy and at my very best. Also, the readers were encouraged to ask friends, colleagues and family members to describe the best three qualities of me and what they see as my special gift.
Parallel to the feedback exercise I was introduced to something called Clifton Strengths Assessment. A tool that has been developed to assess individual strengths in order to understand what kind of team member or leader you are and what are the strengths you bring with you.
Having completed both – asked feedback from my family members, friends and colleagues and answered the Clifton Strengths questionnaire – interesting results revealed themselves. According to the Clifton Strengths I am a strategic thinker. Most of my strengths lie indeed in strategy and strategic thinking, but the first strength was connected to people – being able to see people, the strengths in them and thus being able to combine teams of different people enabling their best sides to flourish.
The feedback that others gave me focused mainly around my courage, honesty and passionate (honest?) nature. Others notice me becoming truly alive when I talk about things I know and care about – literature, culture in the wider sense, also the connections between humanities and entrepreneurship, but also topics connected to library management. I was described as a person who likes to highlight and see connections or similarities were other perhaps would not see and look them. According to the Strengths Finder I am also someone who likes to research, collect information, archive it and then make use of it for making better decisions in the future. It is nice to see that the tool assesses me this way, although one can ask wheatear this is something I have become over the years through y training and work as a scholar or is that my natural state of mind, my curiosity in history, in the past. Probably both. But the fact that I ended up becoming a scholar researching memory and remembering, answers the question.
Someone said that my true gift is to manage life as a project, to be able to do that and to integrate new people into my life. Really… do I do that? I must, I guess. Taking a new job, in a new organization, you must be able to adapt, to be open, to learn to know and trust new people.
I would say that the two methods did highlight slightly different aspect of me but there were also overlaps. Firstly, the learned or natural tendency to have a research approach, the curiosity and thrive to know. I do value archival material, I do believe in building upon the past knowledge and experience. Secondly, the interest in people. I would say that I am definitely very curious and interested in the human nature, in what makes us how we are, what thrives us. Thus, I do like to see and find the best in every person, and I do really try to understand people’s motives and (hidden, unconscious) agendas. And I do get angry with stupidity, very angry. But I do also have the ability, perhaps the gift to let go.
This is because I do believe in the human being.
I believe in inner growth. Also change.