Do you remember the old fill-in-the-blank word games we used to play back in the day? We’d get a little book for just a few cents, and inside, it would have stories…only the stories were missing words. All we knew was that the words had to be nouns, verbs, or adjectives as indicated for each blank. And so we would have someone randomly pick nouns, verbs, and adjectives as we filled in the blanks.
For just a few cents, we certainly got a lot of fun out of making up sentences like, “I want a happy green gopher for Christmas to ride in my bad convertible.”
Now the not-so-funny thing is this. When you ask the average person to fill in the blanks regarding their purpose (which is to say, “I _____(verb) _______ (noun) for ______(noun)”, you get something like, “I drive a wagon for green gophers because I don’t know what else to do with my life.”
There’s an exercise we do in one of my strengths programs where we have folks write their success stories, telling about things they have done and enjoyed doing. Then we go through and mark all the nouns, and then, separately, the verbs.
We begin to mix and match the nouns and verbs…
- ”I led a class for entrepreneurs.”
- “I designed a fitness center for my company.”
- “I helped earn the sales reward bonus for my team.”
- “I led the line for my first grade class.”
And then the magic happens…we begin to see patterns.
Where these coaching clients have succeeded in the past indicates use of their strengths. In the examples above, you will see, for instance, that there is a leadership pattern. In another, there is a support pattern. We can see sales patterns, teaching patterns, and creativity patterns. We can tell whether a person likes to work in their own business or for a company, and whether they like to work alone or with a team.
I challenge you to take some time during the holidays to give yourself the gift of reflection.
Write your success stories. Circle the verbs. Underline the nouns. And start filling in some blanks. “I _____(verb) _______ (noun) for ______(noun).”
What are you writing?
Well, when you boil it down, you are writing your purpose – your strengths plus how you use them to serve others.
And that, my friend, is a wonderful gift!
In fact, I’m thinking of a person who went through this exercise with me seven years ago. She just celebrated seven successful years in a business based on the one sentence we developed from this exercise. Basing your business or career on your purpose – your strengths – works, and it works in a big way. For more tools to help you find your strengths so you can serve others and grow your business in the process, click here or contact me. Purposeful, strengths-based growth is my passion!