Another set of guide-lines

I’m home again, which I enjoy as much as going away. And I’m feeling dragged out, which could be due to having one less hour of sleep, or could be a mild ‘welcome home’ backlash…a biorhythmic version of my cat walking away from me for the first hour after I’d been gone for a couple of days. Either way, I’m not in The Mood. I’m so not in The Mood that I can’t decide whether I’m glad I made up this assignment before I left town, or cranky about it. Beats thinking, though.

I have found that there are three key steps to identifying your own core personal projects.

I pulled this from Susan Cain’s Quiet, p218. It struck me that, though she wove this into a narrative, it made a good self-awareness exercise. Let’s see what I can become aware of today! 

First, think back to what you loved to do when you were a child. How did you answer the question of what you wanted to be when you grew up?

The ambition I remember most specifically was wanting to be an architect. Oh, and in middle school I wanted to be a librarian. (Yeah, yeah. Shush.)

The specific answer you gave may have been off the mark, but the underlying impulse was not. (KDS summary: Articulate what aspect of the role especially drew you in.)

Librarian-ness for me was all about sharing interesting and/or entertaining books–information, really. Which aligns with Malcom Gladwell’s “maven” behavior: when you know cool stuff, you want to share it all around. And I already do, and those who love me are very gracious about this.

Architecture…that’s more interesting to consider. I think it had to do with creating beautiful, affirming spaces. Feeling grounded and peaceful where one happens to be. And I was fond of adding gardens into the middle of my houses: quiet spaces full of natural life. It may also have been set-dressing for whatever internal narrative I had running, though my narrative impulses diffused around the time I hit middle school.

Second, pay attention to the work you gravitate to. (KDS summary: What do you raise your hand for?)

What do I raise my hand for? Teaching and facilitating. So sharing knowledge (again!) and helping people figure things out. 

Project planning, though not so much execution if I can… I like being an advisor. I enjoy the thought-experiment aspect.

Setting up systems, so we’re not flopping around or running the same thought experiment more than once.

And writing things down! Well, writing things in general, naturally. But I was the queen of Frequently Asked Question files back in the day.

Finally, pay attention to what you envy. 

Getting to travel frequently. I used to envy people who had quiet time to think: now I have quiet time to think, so I’m not as envious.

And voilá, just as Ms. Cain indicated! Writing here is an aspect of one of my core personal projects. As is ‘that Girl Scout stuff’ I keep doing. It would be wise of me to figure out what core personal project my Presbyterian Women work addresses (now on two fronts!), but I bet it’s some combination of systems thinking and maven-ness.

I wonder if Ms. Cain is going to develop a coaching tool out of her work? I bet not. Writing is in her core; according to her writing, teaching doesn’t move her needle. <grin>

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