Category Archives: My ENFP is showing again

Not the CEO

I thought I was done geeking out about the Strength Finders test. But I’m not. 

I learned something new about myself today!

The Strength Finders test measures strengths based on 34 different attributes. So much I knew. (As previously blogged, my top five are Strategic, Communication, Positivity, Learner, and Input.) However, what I didn’t know was that Clifton Strengths classifies those 34 attributes into 4 different types: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, and Strategic Thinking

The sheet I received describes the types like this: People with dominant Executing themes know how to make things happen. People with dominant Influencing themes know how to take charge, speak up, and make sure that the team is heard. People with dominant Relationship Building themes have the ability to build stronger relationships that can hold a team together and make the team greater than the sum of its parts. People with dominant Strategic Thinking themes help teams consider what could be. They absorb and analyze information that can inform better decisions. 

Guess what I learned? I do not have a single strength in Executing. Not this time I took the test. Not the last time. I guess not ever! 

Slightly less shocking given my recent discoveries, my dominant strength comes from Strategic Thinking. I absorb facts and find problems. I look for solutions. I’m happiest and most effective when doing this. I do not know about Amy 2017, but that sure describes Amy 2018. 

And I think I am okay with that. 

Strategic Thinking doesn’t sound like me. It sounds like someone who likes math, or plays chess, or runs the War Department. But I guess it also sounds like someone who loves writing research papers and playing Sudoku and growing community field offices. So that’s me. 

My results illustrate two other things about me that I did not previously realize: 

1. Leadership Style.

When I think of leaders, I think of the executive type. Those people know how to get things done. They have descriptors like Achiever, Arranger, Discipline, and Responsibility. I want those strengths and to be the sort of person who leads others with a single-focused drive. But that isn’t me.

Just because I am not an executive leader doesn’t mean I am not a leader, though. My leadership skills reflect big-picture problem solving. I plot. I plan. Sometimes I even follow through on those plans. I am less the executive CEO type…and more the in house legal consultant. (Hey, that’s convenient!) 

2. I might not be as entrepreneurial as I thought. 

I love entrepreneurs. I want to be one. But when I started thinking about my strengths, the lack of executing stands out pretty strongly. It also explains some of my previous difficulties running a field office. Just because I can see a problem does not mean I am good at fixing it. I need to work with others who can. 

No one functions entirely solo, but turns out I really can’t. I would never accomplish anything and I would unhappy if I tried. It isn’t the way I am wired. Far from depressing me, I find the realization somewhat freeing. I do not need to build, or accomplish, anything on my own. I am most effective when working with others.

I suppose that is probably true for everyone, but I still find it gratifying. I do not need to partner with an Executing type because I am weaker or underdeveloped in that area, but because I am better and more fulfilled doing something else. Heck, that’s the beauty of the free market. I do not know why it surprises me so much to find that in my everyday life!

On a more personal level, my discovery looks like this: Maybe I do not actually want to start my own law firm like I thought. Maybe that was the expectation I placed on myself because I am not a natural, executing leader but I still want the independence that comes with authority. So I told myself I needed to start a law firm to gain that independence. You know what that tells me, though? Independence is the value I crave, not authority. 

Where does that leave me? Somewhere between a need for others and a desire for independence. I do not know what that looks like yet, but I do know that when I find that sweet spot, I will be set

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Shifting Strengths

Law school does things to you; it changes the way you think and the way you interact with people. You start viewing language differently. You exist in a pressure cooker all semester and when finally released from it…the world seems different. I have struggled to explain the difference to people. I feel…firmer. Or grounded. More analytical. Possibly more capable, or at least developed. 

Yesterday I took the Clifton Strength Finders test and I might have more words now. 

The strengths test measures your inherent “talents.” It isn’t supposed to change much, at least not once you hit adulthood. Yet over the past year, my strengths shifted dramatically

I took the test the first time almost exactly a year ago. At the time, I was leaving my adult job to move to the mountains of Idaho to work as a camp counselor and hopefully attend law school in the fall. Uncertainty was my watch word. It shows in my strengths:

Adaptability
Activator
Positivity
Intellection
Includer

Roughly translated, that tells you I am a flexible, happy, smart, inclusive person. Which I like to think is true. 

I took the test again yesterday. This time my top five strengths were: 

Strategic
Communication
Positivity
Learner
Input

First off, I don’t think anyone has ever called me strategic before, much less ranked that my top strength. 

Second, while input sounds cool, it really just means I collect things like words, books, and ideas. 

Third, initially, these results really shocked me. They seemed so…different. But then I started reading about them. And, y’all, these are me. Future oriented, chatty, enthusiastic, thirsty for new ideas and intent on remembering them. Throughout, the test emphasizes my love of books and reading.

I really do love books. (Though the test also says I think speed reading is a waste of time because I want to ponder each new idea, which isn’t true by a long shot. But I do process things fast.) 

These results are not as far off from last year as I initially thought. Adaptability and Strategic strengths share a common theme of flexibility – just with the Strategic strength I have learned to pick an option and follow through on it. With Activator I got people excited about projects, now I use Communication to carry through on the whole project, not just the beginning. 

My main purpose in sharing all this stems from a broader theme I’ve learned over this past year. Going into law school, I felt a bit like a fraud. Detail-oriented people are supposed to go to law school. Not big-picture, idea people like me. You go to law school to put things in boxes, not to turn the box upside down and beat on it like a drum. 

Or so I thought. Over the last year, I have learned my talents aren’t that uncommon for the law, and are in fact quite valuable. Where I am weak, I have learned to adapt. And where I am strong, like in communication, I flourish. 

I am waiting for one last grade, but in all but one class so far this semester I’ve gotten an A or A-. You might find that par for course knowing me, but in law school that is hard. But I am learning and I am loving what I learn. It is a bit of a relief to realize that I am not a fraud and 6-year-old me wasn’t crazy when she announced she wanted to be a lawyer.

Moreover, I am good at this. Just saying that makes me feel a little bit crazy, but also happy. I see God’s hand at work around me and I cannot wait to see what comes next.


Three Years

Three years ago today, I graduated from Bryan College with my bachelor’s degree. I then chose to take a gap year (er, two) before attending law school. In an alternative universe, I would have gone straight to law school. Instead of ending of my 1L year, this week would culminate in my graduation from legal education. That was the plan. 

I am so glad it did not happen that way. 

It strikes me as funny when I talk about the past two years. I murmur offhandedly, “Oh, I worked for a few years before coming to law school.” As if two of the most formative years of my life were just NBD…no big deal. 

I suppose in the big picture they might prove just that: a mere blip in time between college and my “real” career as a lawyer. 

But even if that is the case, I wouldn’t trade those years with AFP for anything. My work there developed so much of who I am and how I see myself. I can’t imagine who I would be if I went straight from my undergraduate to the pressure cooker that is law school. That vision holds no appeal for me.

From an academic standpoint, straight-from-undergraduate-me might have embraced law school better. Independence would mean little to her, so a life of student loans and borrowed rides to church would feel natural. I would still be a perfectionist with an angsty desire to go go go so I imagine I would have joined just as many clubs (if not more) and still jumped into an internship as soon as possible. From a practical standpoint, I doubt my legal career so far would look very different. 

Yet that isn’t quite true. I landed both my legal internships to date because of my connection with AFP. I’ve prioritized certain activities and de-emphasized others because I know the sort of people I want to be around. I’ve approached projects and people and ideas with the confidence of someone who has achieved something difficult, and failed multiple times while doing it. 

I am so much more me because I waited two years. Also, I owe a heck of a lot less loans because I paid off those undergraduate ones. 

It gives me hope for the next three years. I never saw myself here three years ago, and yet here I am. Who knows what will come next? The only thing I know for certain is that  whatever it is, I’ve been equipped and mentored and well prepared for it. And if I fail? I’ve got an amazing community that will cheer me on anyway.

(Plus, I can always peace back to the mountains of Idaho and live the rest of my life in chacos, right?) 


Hello, Madison!

It has been a long time since I have updated, but that doesn’t mean my life hasn’t been full of crazy, exciting changes! I am excited to announce that this Fall I will be attending the University of Wisconsin’s Law School.

I had a peaceful, wonderful summer working in Idaho and hopefully that will be the topic of my next blog post (once I have consistent internet.)

Until then, I will happily fangirl about this new opportunity. I am so EXCITED to go to law school! Becoming a lawyer has been my goal and dream for 18 years. The longer I am here, the more it dawns on me that this is really happening. I am finally here. Orientation hasn’t even started yet and I think I might burst from happiness. Imagine when it does! That is why I am getting this post out now, in case I combust from enthusiasm.

I am excited. I am excited for textbooks and assigned readings and class discussions. I am excited to meet my professors and talk with other academic minds. I am excited for structured learning. This is going to be fun!

This buoyancy inside my soul heartens me. I wasn’t really feeling it until I got here. I could logically list all the reasons for going, but my emotions weren’t behind it yet. As an emotionally driven person (ENFP, y’all), that worried me. However, I should have realized it would come once I got here. I love school. I love books. And you know, I might even come to love Madison.

When my parents were dropping me off for my undergrad in Tennessee, a beat up pickup truck flying a Confederate flag passed us on the road and the driver promptly spat out a wad of tobacco in our direction. I remember that moment quite vividly because I was certain my parents were about to turn around and take me straight home.

Thankfully, my parents are made of sterner stuff…which is a good thing because Madison decided to take it up a notch for Interesting Beginnings. Greeting us upon our arrival this past weekend was a parade of topless women! (And some men. But they weren’t really the point of the parade.) They carried signs about objectifying women’s bodies. To be honest, I feel like there are better ways of making a point, but I guess they did have shock value going for them. Hello, Madison!

I am sure topless women are only just the beginning. I will be sure to keep you all updated on my adventures on this new journey of mine!


Young Adult Literature – PG or PG13?

I was around 12 when I made the “jump” (as I considered it) from the Juvenile Fiction section of the library to the Young Adult side. Besides a geographical relocation, the biggest impact of the move was that I now had to be extra careful with the books I selected. Compared to Juvenile Fiction (where anything besides a chaste kiss would have been shocking), the Young Adult books I perused seemed chalk full of sex, language, and dark, mature content. Where I once read broadly from all genres and authors, I now tiptoed, jumping from safe series (like the Hardy Boys Classified) to familiar authors (like Jessica Day George). In fact, it wasn’t until college that I fully embraced YA as a genre and felt comfortable trying books at random.  It seems silly now, but at the time this search for “safety” involved quite a bit of soul searching and boundary stretching on my part. 

Part of what got me reading YA broadly was that I moved libraries. The tiny, local library in Dayton, TN didn’t have the resources for a kids’ section and a teens’ section. The result was a sort of hodgepodge of the two, broadly called “Young Adult.” A part of me always felt they got it wrong. Either you have “clean” books, or you don’t. You can’t mix them. 

However, looking at it now, I’ve started to wonder about my definition of “young adult.” I’ve always considered it like a PG13 movie rating. When you enter, you go in with the knowledge that there is “mature content ahead.” Many books I’ve seen placed in YA recently seem to belong to the more innocuous PG rating, however. It is somewhat more mature than a G rating (or traditional Juvenile Fiction), but comparatively clean. Or perhaps they are just coming of age stories a grade schooler wouldn’t find interesting, particularly if it contains older characters or more subtle themes. 

I suppose the YA genre is a mix of PG and PG13, though it still seems like a nuanced jump to me. How would you define YA? Do you have a particular way of categorizing it in your mind?


Disney Princesses and Underrepresented Hair Colors

I am taking my youth group girls to see the new Beauty in the Beast movie in a few weeks and I feel like this calls for a serious conversation about hair. 

Now in general, I feel redheads are vastly underrepresented in pop culture. However, my sister was ranting the other day about the lack of brunette princesses, and I think she makes a very legit point. Take a look at this:

5 of these princesses have black hair. Three have blond hair. Two have red hair. Only one is a brunette!  

Add in Anna and Elsa…

Image result for all the disney princesses

We have 5 black haired princesses, three blonds, three redheads, one brunette and one sort of blond sort of white haired ice Queen. 

Image result for all the disney princesses

Now, there are a few less popular/not recognized Disney leading ladies who are brunettes, like Jane. (Actually, just Jane. I just looked it up and Megara is supposed to have auburn like hair.) And anyway, at the same time, you add another red head, another blond, and another black haired princess.

No matter how far you expand…

And who you include…

Brunettes really only have one good princess…

Image result for all disney princesses with moana(is that supposed to be Moana on the end?)

And that is Belle!


ENFPs & the Emo Mode

If there is one thing ENFPs like, it is self-discovery. I love reading about my personality type and if you are looking for something, Heidi Priebe writes especially great articles.  However, my favorite article hands down is Your ENFP Care And Handling User Guide And Manual. (Clink on the link to read the article.) 

Not only is this article relatable and funny (or at least I assume it is for those of you who have to live with me) but it has this marvelous paragraph under “Modes” that reads: 

Emo – Activated seemingly randomly by a large influx of emotion that your ENFP unit must withdraw and analyze in order to understand and integrate. occurs approximately one (1) out of every fifteen (15) days. Completion of this mode is often signaled by your ENFP unit announcing it has learned something new about itself.

I nearly shouted out loud when I came upon that passage. “YES! THAT IS IT!” Someone put it into words! ENFPs are the most introverted of the extroverts; we like people but we also are big on self-understanding and that takes quiet and withdrawal. Sometimes it is simply for recharging. However, at least for me, I often mentally and emotionally withdraw for a time because I feel the need to reevaluate my goals or motivation and gain some new understanding of myself. When I’ve emerged, I feel more complete and satisfied. Hence, I suppose, the “Emo Mode.” 

Since I’m a verbal processor, the process doesn’t always mean withdrawing. It sometimes involves simply talking things through with a friend. The process and result, however, are often the same. 

Anyway, in writing this I am less motivated by a desire that you all “understand” me and more by a hope that this will in turn help others understand themselves better. Sometimes, it helps just having someone else put it into words!