Cultivating What Comes Naturally

Bea is known for her daredevil bike stunts in our cul-de-sac. She recently took off her training wheels and a whole new world has opened. She rides fast, jumps the curbs, and is constantly off-roading. I think an appropriate stocking stuffer will be a nice patch kit.

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Riding to the park

My dad comes over to help her repair her thorny tires and she’s right next to him, finding the puncture, patching it up, learning how to care for her bike. One day, when a wheel was off, Bea spun the back tire and said, If I just lift up, I probably would only need one wheel anyway….

Our neighbor’s nanny loves her fearless spirit and when he heard this statement, he laughed in an Of course Bea’s figuring out how to pop wheelies sort of way.

As my dad cleaned up after the repair, he talked with the nanny about his love of bikes and fixing them – he remembers his first bike, when he was just a bit older than Bea. How his dream is to have space to just clean up and tinker with a variety of bikes.

A few days later, we were watching the kids ride and Jake mentioned this conversation with my dad. We were talking about Bea’s skill and how it wasn’t the average four-year-old biking level. He wondered if it was partly just who Bea is but also partly my dad’s love of biking. Would she be as enthusiastic, as fearless, if a love of bikes wasn’t modeled?

StrengthsFinder talks about this whole nature vs nurture idea, or as they label it: talents and skills. In their language,

Talents are naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied. Talents, knowledge, and skills — along with the time spent (i.e., investment) practicing, developing your skills, and building your knowledge base — combine to create your strengths. strengths.gallup.com

It’s not that we’re just born with these strengths and then, without any investment or time nurturing these skills, we’re just amazing at these particular areas.

Connectedness, Context, Learner may all be innate strengths for me but if I don’t spend the time cultivating these areas – reading books, surrounding myself with people of different views, taking time to know the world around me – these strengths would just stagnate.

If I’m not intentional, I can’t use my strengths as powerfully. Again, they would be part of how I process the world, but perhaps not as powerful as if I’m aware of how to best use them.

I think that’s what I love most about personality tests (and this goes for whichever one you most connect with). When we know ourselves deeper and understand the why behind how we function, I think we are able to make better decision and are able to better interact with those around us.

Just like we had to buy a bicycle for Bea and teach her how to ride it, we need to intentionally use our strengths to grow them. But, in the end, that fearlessness is innate – it just takes someone showing you how to pedal.

What’s your favorite personality test? How do you spend time cultivating your natural strengths?

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This post is Day 28 of the Write 31 Day Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the StrengthsFinder test. You can find the entire series over at Live Your Strengths page.

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6 thoughts on “Cultivating What Comes Naturally

  1. Annie, I love reading your blogs each day. Your writing is so real and very calming. The way you weave events that happen in your family’s life with the strengths you have identified make them more meaningful. Thank you for sharing. Your daily writing has inspired me!

  2. I like your definition of talent. I know, it is not yours, but I really like it. Gretchen Rubin’s four tendencies resonate with me. She generalizes people into four groups. Upholders, Obligers, Questioners, and Rebels. I fit into the Upholders and Obligers categories. I suppose those of us writing for 31 Days straight are not questioners or rebels, right? It does give power to recognize what comes naturally. I went two years in college trying the path of English major only to find out that I am a natural with children and really needed to be teaching littles.

    1. I’ve seen others refer to Rubin’s categories – I need to check out that book! And so true – rebels most likely wouldn’t take on a task like this. Or it’d look completely different! 😉

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