Strength #1 – Connectedness

by on Mar.15, 2013, under Personal

From the book:

 Things happen for a reason.  You are sure of it.  You are sure of it because in your soul you know that we are all connected.  Yes, we are individuals, responsible for our own judgments and in possession of our own free will, but nonetheless we are part of something larger.  Some may call it the collective unconscious.  Others may label it spirit or life force.  But whatever your word of choice, you gain confidence from knowing that we are not isolated from one another or from the earth and the life on it.  This feeling of Connectedness implies certain responsibilities.  If we are all part of a larger picture, then we must not harm others because we will be harming ourselves.  We must not exploit because we will be exploiting ourselves.  Your awareness of these responsibilities creates your value system.  You are considerate, caring, and accepting.  Certain of the unity of humankind, you are a bridge builder for people of different cultures.  Sensitive to the invisible hand, you can give others comfort that there is a purpose beyond our humdrum lives.  The exact articles of your faith will depend on your upbringing and your culture, but your faith is strong.  It sustains you and your close friends in the face of life’s mysteries.

What does Connectedness mean to me?

Connectedness is obvious to me.  I look back at my past and I can point to a few moments in time (literally a minute) where if I hadn’t been in the right place at the right time, the event wouldn’t have happened at all, and I’d be in a very different place in my life right now as a result.  I met my wife at a rock concert that I went to on a whim with a friend.  I only had that friend to begin with because he’s someone I’d met through my ex-wife.  I only met my ex-wife by chance on IM with another one of my friends so many years ago, and if I hadn’t logged in then I may never have talked to her.  If I’d never met her, I’d never have met him, and I’d never have met my current wife.  Who knows what my life would be like now?

Also, I got my first (real) job at Best Buy because I happened to run into a friend who worked there and he told me I should apply.  I got my current job at Stryker because of someone I met at that job at best buy.  What if I hadn’t walked in to Best Buy that day and run into my friend?

Now, to link the two back together, it was my current wife who encouraged me to go get my pilot’s license, and it is my current job that gave me the opportunity to meet some Civil Air Patrol members…  so without both of those paths to this point, I might not be a pilot joining the civil air patrol right now.

All of these examples carry on and on into other parts of my life.  I see it everywhere, all the time.  Each thread intertwines with the others.  They make life a beautifully complicated mess.

Where does Connectedness show evidence in my life?

I gave some examples of actual Connectedness above, but the theme itself is the part that basically forces me to see things in this way.  My political views are driven pretty heavily by my Connectedness theme, for example.  I’d rather not go in to what they are here (I’ll save that for another post) but suffice to say the reasons I think the world should be the way I do is because of things I’ve seen with my own eyes.  I tend to not believe that things have a simple cause and effect relationship because underneath it all there are connections between events and circumstances that, on the surface, appear entirely unrelated.

How can I use Connectedness to my advantage?

The Connectedness theme has some baked-in advantages.  Just by the merit of having this theme as prevalent as it is, naturally connections are made, mentally, between the potential impact of various events and circumstances.  That said, I think it is worth mentioning that one of the advantages of knowing that Connectedness is a strong theme for me is that I can understand better why I’m making connections between items that aren’t, on the surface, related.  In understanding why I might be concerned about something that others seemingly aren’t, I might be able to convince myself not to stand in the way of something just because of an instinct.

I definitely see evidence of the learner theme and I’m glad I know more about it now, and how that theme affects my demeanor.  Hopefully after looking at all of my top five themes, I can have a better understanding of what makes me tick, and why I think the way I do.

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Strength #2 – Learner

by on Oct.24, 2012, under Personal

#2 – Learner

From the book:

You love to learn.  The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other themes and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process of learning.  The process, more than the content or the result, is especially exciting for you.  You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence.  The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned, the growing confidence of a skill mastered — this is the process that entices you.  Your excitement leads you to engage in adult learning experiences — yoga or piano lessons or graduate classes.  It enables you to thrive in dynamic work environments where you are asked to take on short project assignments and are expected to learn a lot about the new subject matter in a short period of time and then move on to the next one.  This Learner theme does not necessarily mean that you seek to become the subject matter expert, or that you are striving for the respect that accompanies a professional or academic credential.  The outcome of the learning is less significant than the “getting there.”

You will always be drawn to the process of learning — This theme describes me very well, in many ways. (continue reading…)

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Employee Spotlight: Get to Know…Tom!

by on Oct.05, 2011, under Technical

Employee Spotlight: Get to Know…Tom!

This is an Employee Spotlight our wonderful communications team did about me this week here at Stryker.  I guess some people don’t care much about these, but I’ve always found them to be a great way to learn about your coworkers.  I am told mine was a lot of fun to write & compile, and that I provided enough info that they could write two of them!

Tom Busch, Technical Lead

Check out that crazy curly hair!






(continue reading…)

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Strength #3 – Relator

by on Feb.12, 2011, under Personal

#3 – Relator

From the book:

Relator describes your attitude toward your relationships.  In simple terms, the Relator theme pulls you toward people you already know.  You do not necessarily shy away from meeting new people — in fact, you may have other themes that cause you to enjoy the thrill of turning strangers into friends — but you do derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends.  You are comfortable with intimacy.  Once the initial connection has been made, you deliberately encourage a deepening of the relationship.  You want to understand their feelings, their goals, their fears, and their dreams; and you want them to understand yours.  You know that this kind of closeness implies a certain amount of risk — you might be taken advantage of — but you are willing to accept that risk.  For you a relationship has value only if it is genuine.  And the only way to know that is to entrust yourself to the other person.  The more you share with each other, the more you risk together.  The more you risk together, the more each of you proves your caring is genuine.  These are you steps toward real friendship, and you take them willingly.

Impressive.  Again, please ignore the bad grammar.  I am tempted to write a letter to their editor…

What does Relator mean to me?

I like this one.  I almost feel like the Relator theme is what makes me human.  I don’t mean that like “Hah, I’m a machine, nothing can stop me” but I mean this is the theme that drives my social side.  The description above is very accurate, grammar aside.  I do work harder for & with people who I genuinely care about and who genuinely care about me, and I can tell if it’s not genuine.  I do want to understand people, their motives, their history, and I want them to understand me as well.  I believe this is a very powerful theme and I’m glad it’s one of mine!

Where does Relator show evidence in my life?

Oh, where should I begin?  I love to relate to people.  I love to have deep conversations about not only what’s going on in life (mine or theirs) but also why and how we can affect it.  I like to understand the natural psychology of humans.  I like to understand where their point of view originates, how they came to their present opinions, etc.  I think I have an excellent ability to extract myself from a situation and look at it from many other angles, and it is this Relator strength that allows for this.

I think the Relator theme also can have the effect of making me look like I’m playing the Devil’s Advocate, or “just trying to be difficult.”  Clearly this could be a problem when dealing with a person who is not strong in the Relator theme.  That person may not immediately understand why I would choose to argue another side of an issue, and could therefore become aggravated!  There’s an interesting conundrum in this theme, isn’t there?  On the one hand you’re trying to relate to another party, possibly one that isn’t represented.  On the other hand, you can relate to the person you’re debating against, too.  How’s that for internal conflict?  Due to this intriguing paradox, the Relator theme is not always simple, but certainly can be complex and confusing, even stressful!

That’s not the only interesting paradox, either.  Think about that person that you’re debating with.  If they aren’t strong in the Relator theme… then not only might they not contemplate the angle you’re trying to show them, but they won’t even understand why you’re trying to bring it up.  See, that person may not even be able to relate to you!  That’s hard for us Relators to Relate to, can you Relate?

How can I use Relator to my advantage?

The interesting thing about the Relator theme is that it’s what gives me the ability to  learn what drives the people around me, and therefore it leads to the ability to motivate those people.  After all, if you can’t relate to someone, how are you going to understand why they do what they do?  A carrot on a stick won’t lead a horse that doesn’t like carrots!

Here’s an excerpt about how to manage a strong Relator:

Ask him to build genuine trusting relationships with the critical people that you want to retain.  He can be one of the human ties that bind good people to your organization.

This seems like good advice.  You work hard to hire good employees, right?  Have you ever put a model airplane together?  Even if all the pieces fit together perfectly, nothing will hold a model together like a little glue.  Relators are the glue that will keep your employees from straying!

Here’s another:

Help him know the goals of his colleagues.  He is more likely to bond with them when he knows their goals.

Makes sense, right?  A Relator needs to understand why a coworker prioritizes things the way they do, and once they understand that, they can perhaps predict that person a little more.  For example, I have a coworker who is very quick to respond to help desk tickets, regardless of how engrossed he may be in another project at that time.  As a Relator, I recognize that while our team is not measured on number of tickets closed or time to close, this is important to this individual, likely because he’s been recognized for it in the past.  When we recently both began to work on a ticket at the same time, rather than chiding him for closing a ticket that I was working on, I simply asked him to keep me informed when he’s already working on it by copying me via email or somehow letting me know not to spend my time needlessly.

So, here’s how I’m going to try to use the Relator theme to my advantage:

  1. One of the Gallup Q12 questions is “Do you have a best friend at work?” — I think Relators are the key to a good score on this question.  Relators are likely to score pretty high here due to their nature, but a Relator may also be the person that comes to another’s mind when they answer this question.
  2. I’ll continue to use this ability to try to represent points of view that may not be present in a debate, wherever I can… however it is necessary to remember to relate to the others present!

I’ve enjoyed delving into this theme.  It’s been quite the eye-opener.  The Relator theme is a strong one and I can definitely see how I emulate it, and I think it’s incredibly important that I now understand how this strength can be misused!  That’s the point of all of this, right?  To understand the tools we have, so we can use them right!  You don’t use a cleaver to comb your hair, or a hammer to brush your teeth!  Can you relate?

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Strength #4 – Achiever

by on Jun.17, 2010, under Personal

#4 – Achiever

From the book:

Your Achiever theme helps explain your drive.  Achiever describes a constant need for achievement.  You feel as if every day starts at zero.  By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself.  And by “every day” you mean every single day — workdays, weekends, vacations.  No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied.  You have an internal fire burning inside you.  It pushes you to do more, to achieve more.  After each accomplishment is reached, the fire dwindles for a moment, but very soon it rekindles itself, forcing you toward the next accomplishment.  Your relentless need for achievement might not be logical.  It might not even be focused.  But it will always be with you.  As an Achiever you must learn to live with this whisper of discontent.  It does have its benefits.  It brings you the energy you need to work long hours without burning out.  It is the jolt you can always count on to get you started on new tasks, new challenges.  It is the power supply that causes you to set the pace and define the levels of productivity for your work group.  It is the theme that keeps you moving.

Wow, that’s a mouthful.  Despite the poor grammar, let’s break it down.

(continue reading…)

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Discovering My Strengths

by on Jan.26, 2010, under Personal

StrongGuyI thought I’d take a moment to reflect on what the Gallup Organization believes are my signature themes…. my top 5 character/personality traitswhich, if they are to be believed, will tend to proliferate themselves in all aspects of my life.  I took this survey about five years ago, when I started with Stryker.  I’m not convinced that these themes are infallible.  That said, I don’t have any major disagreement with their analysis — In fact, I think some of these begin to describe me very well!

I’ve decided to break this article up into separate posts.  Today I’ll talk about one of the five strengths each post and the conclusion will be attached to the final strength.

(continue reading…)

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Self Image

by on Dec.06, 2009, under Faith, fitness

Why is it so hard for so many of us to have a decent self image?

I had coffee with a friend today and he gave me a card.  In this card he had written me a nice note.  Here’s an excerpt:

You’re a great guy always looking out for others whether you’re the one to congratulate them during the good or be a shoulder to cry on for the bad.  You’re a very smart guy with a steady career who is very independent.  You strive to keep up your body, mind and spirit like no other and I respect that.

First, let me say that I have a lot of respect for him too for many reasons that I’d rather not go into here.  Let’s just say most people in the situation he and I found ourselves in would never end up as friends.  Frankly it should say a lot about both of us that we built a friendship out of it.  Based on that, what he said there means more to me than I can put into words.  The person he described is the person I have tasked myself with becoming during the last couple of years.  I don’t know if I’m there yet, but that’s kind of the point of this blog post 😉

(continue reading…)

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My ‘Fletch Fit’ goals

by on Nov.20, 2009, under fitness

Fletch Fit: What do I want to do?
Well, I’ve lost about 70# and I would like to drop about 25 more. In addition to that I want to be strong (muscular).

I've come a looooong way!

I've come a looooong way!

In order to do this and to maintain it, there are three things I need:
1. A good workout regimen (Got it)
2. A good, maintainable nutrition plan (Need it)
3. A much better sleep schedule (REALLY need it)

I strongly believe that fixing my sleep schedule is the most important of the three, because it will affect my entire life and not just my physical well-being. Once I have that under control, I believe I’ll have the energy I need in order to learn how & what to cook to solve my nutrition issues. As far as the workout goes, I’ve got more muscle than I’ve ever had, I’m more flexible than I’ve ever been, I’m faster than ever. If not for a little extra weight, I’m in the best shape of my life.

In the end, if I can get these three parts of my life in line, I believe it will provide the self-image that I need in order to be a more confident person. Confidence, as many of you know, is one of the key personality attributes to being successful in most areas of life!

So. What could possibly stop me from doing this? Well, right now it’s kind of a catch-22. I don’t sleep enough because I can’t get everything I want to do, done, in the time I am currently awake. I don’t get everything done because I just don’t have the energy like I should. I don’t have that energy because I don’t sleep enough. Bah! It also makes it harder for me to think critically & solve problems at work, and since that’s basically my job (software developer) it leaves me feeling inadequate.

So, in a nutshell, what could stop me is laziness and/or lack of willpower.

(continue reading…)

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What’s wrong with developers?

by on Oct.18, 2009, under Technical

Here’s an excerpt from a comment I saw on today:

Software types are more analytical, (either as a result or as an cause of them being in their field). As such they see things that Joe Random doesn’t even notice.

When the waitress says “If you need anything else, my name is Betty” Joe Random grunts and takes a bite of his meal. Programmer dude wonders what her name is if he doesn’t need any thing else.

When the reporter says “For CNN, I’m Wolf Blitzer”, programmer dude shouts at the TV demanding to know who the reporter is when he dons his lederhosen and cowboy hat and goes dancing.

Ouch, that hurts to think about, I’ll stop now. (continue reading…)

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Hello, World!

by on Oct.01, 2009, under Faith

Hi everyone!  I’m “Solid” Thomas, and this is my new blog site which I promise to faithfully ignore and forget to post to as often as possible 🙂

Sitting at work... playing with camera phone...

Sitting at work... playing with camera phone...

If you’re wondering about the nickname, here’s the story.  Last summer I finally found a home for my faith — somewhere that I felt I could grow spiritually.  That place is Granger Community Church, which is located in Granger, IN about 15 minutes or so from where I live.  In about October of last year, I finally realized that the best way to feel comfortable at a church that size (5,000+ attendees per weekend) is to become involved beyond just showing up.  One weekend they offered a “VolunTOUR” which is an opportunity to take a guided tour through the facility and be shown the various opportunities that the church has for its members to become involved on-campus.   

This tour, given by Brian (a volunteer who occasionally plays bass for the worship team), was very eye opening for me.  It is amazing how much work goes into creating the atmosphere there which allows people to feel comfortable even on their first visit.  They need people who clean, plant flowers, mow lawns, teach children, sing, dance, play instruments, collect offerings, greet people at the front door, check kids in to their classes….  there are dozens of different jobs to do on a given weekend and they are ALL important!  Given my past working with the stage crew in high school, I felt like I would be right at home working with the technical arts team, so I expressed interest there and they took my name.

A few days later, I was contacted by Kim Volheim, the Creative Arts Talent Specialist.  Kim invited me in to interview me and give me a rundown of what specific needs they had on the tech arts side, and to see where I’d be a fit.  I told him about my history with stage crew — Lighting, flashpots, spotlights, set construction, etc — and he suggested that the spotlight history, in particular, made me a good candidate for an I-Mag Camera operator.  So, I signed up! (continue reading…)

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