People exceptionally talented in the Context theme enjoy thinking about the past. They understand the present by researching its history.
This week our guest blogger is Jay Wright. Jay has worn may hats in TeamMates, including Mentor, Program Coordinator for Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools in Sioux City, Iowa, and most recently, as Regional Coordinator for the Eastern region. His top five strengths are Context, Achiever, Developer, Includer, and Learner. Here’s what Context looks like for Jay:
I can still remember when I fell in love with history. We were driving to the 1982 Peach Bowl to watch our beloved Iowa Hawkeyes take on the Tennessee Volunteers in Atlanta. (Relive the Hawkeye win here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujQQ96qV3U4). The Hawkeye win is not the moral of the story however. For me, the highlight of the trip was the stop at Chattanooga to see the Civil War battlefield which was, for 6 year old me, life changing. I became fascinated by what I saw as we went up Lookout Mountain and learned about General Grant finding a hidden trail up the mountain. For the rest of our trip I had my dad (a history teacher) regale me with stories of history and wars and Presidents and Kings and Queens. We had these books in elementary school (all with orange covers) that would describe the lives of famous people in history as kids. I read every single one of them, and several of them more than once. I was the “book nerd” as a kid who was always reading when I finished my actual school work. So, studying history in college and becoming a history teacher was probably not a surprise to many. Quite honestly, I thought it was just something I enjoyed, but I never saw this as a “strength”.
|Jay, 6 years old, at the peach Bowl Game, 1982|
Fast forward to a couple years ago when I took my strengths finder. I was surprised to see Context as my number one strength. The others on my list I would have picked out ahead of time, but not Context. As I studied it a bit, however, I realized that Context indeed fit my personality, but I was not sure how that was transferred into being a strength.
However, as I look back, I can see that strength playing out in numerous ways. First off, I love that everyone and everything has a story, and that story needs to be told. I am not really a math guy, but I love data and statistics and what stories they can tell. At the two schools I worked at I spent countless hours researching school records for football and basketball (the sports I coached) and put them on the school websites. I even wrote a blog about the football uniforms at Heelan High School that made it on to uni-watch.com (one of my favorite websites). I am one of those guys who enjoys SABR metrics in baseball and all of the analytics in basketball, etc. I find it really useful to tell the story of a season or a team or a player. Those numbers also make it possible to compare players from one generation to another. We can actually have an argument, based on data, about who was better, Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds. But that is just it, the data and stats are there, but it takes someone to make sense of that data and the story it tells, and that is where a strength like Context is valuable, because I love to tell these stories.
Information is coming at us at lightning speed these days, and so much of it is “Fake news” or inaccurate or misleading. Again, this is a time when we need more people with a strength of Context, as we have the ability to see the bigger picture and decipher what is true today and how we got to where we are at. I am fascinated by the Confederate monument / flag controversies. Yet, it is not about what side of that debate I lay on that I find fascinating, it is rather the history of the debate and the historiography of the Civil War in general that I am struck by. So many people weighed in on that issue that were simply misinformed, which caused not just bad history to be floated out there, but actual rioting and violence. Had more people looked to the past for the right Context about this debate, a much more sensible answer could have been found. But, alas, many people make decisions based on emotion in the heat of the moment, and not on actual facts based on research (which takes time).
My strength of Context is also a benefit in my job as Regional Coordinator for TeamMates Mentoring. I would say I am a people person, but it takes me a while to warm up to others and feel comfortable around them. Why? Because my strength is in getting to know others and what their “story” is. Where are they from? What do they enjoy? What is their sense of humor? Do they like Will Ferrell movies (and if you don’t I am not sure we can be friends). In this way, I like to get to know others before opening up myself. How has this helped in my job? Well, I have spent the first couple months of the school year visiting each chapter in my region. Each chapter has a different story. From how and why they started, to the different challenges they face to the different size schools and communities they are in. By getting to know the chapters and the people in each of those schools, I now have a way better feel for how I can serve them in the best way.
In conclusion, having a strength of Context has been a blessing to me and will continue to be in my new job. For starters, I have the ability to understand data and stats and put them into the context of a larger story that is being told. We Context people also have the strength to sort out the facts and real news when needed, and trust me, the rest of you need us more than ever in today’s social media world! Finally, I think a strength of Context actually helps us get to know other people on a deeper level. We may not be gregarious and outgoing right away, but we will listen and learn the stories of others, and be genuinely interested, which in turn gives us the ability to serve others in the way they need and develop deeper personal relationships.
Gallup says that with Context, we “like to look back, because that is where the answers lie.” So, I am now off to listen to a podcast about Persian kings battling the Greeks. Thanks to Gallup Strengths, I now find being a history nerd is really cool!
If you are interested in guest blogging about one of your Top 5 StrengthsFinder themes this school year, please email Tess at email@example.com