A few weeks ago, I took the Clifton StrengthsFinder test for a doctoral course. Though my skepticism was stimulated during the test, the results amazed. As part of the course requirement, I then discussed the findings with three friends, two of whom had taken the test. All three agreed with the findings and offered insight into understanding what these looked like in me. They even convinced me concerning the remaining object of skepticism: strategic. Here are my top five:
Giving my themes a Tangentrider spin
For the past couple of years, I’ve been writing a Tangentized Dictionary over on Laura’s (Tangential) Writings (LW). The writing process is accomplished via a technique I call Matrix Thinking, a “method for integrating apparently unrelated concepts by titling table columns with ideas from one concept, rows with another, and forcing new ideas from each pair.”
Defining my themes through the Matrix Thinking technique
I decided to apply this technique to the official definitions of my top five themes.
- I labeled the matrix rows with key elements in the theme definition.
- I labeled the columns “divergent” and “contiguous,” the key ideas in the definition of “tangent.”
- In each cell of the matrix, I wrote down the idea that came to mind when the row and column titles were forced together.
- After reading over and pondering the contents of the cells, I wrote a 25 word definition of the theme from my tangentized perspective. (Most posts on LW are 25 words.)
You can read the results of my process on LW.
Putting on your own spin
Tangentrider, my nom de plume, captures an important way I function in thought and communication. I first began to notice this characteristic as director of the college ministry at Torrance First Baptist, when I wrote up tangentizing rules for our group discussions. Years later, I revisited the rules and created a definition of tangentizing: “dialogical process by which allegedly off-topic tangents are leveraged to add insight, depth, breadth to the main topic. to be distinguished from mere side talk.” Over the years, observing my natural functioning and honing the related skills resulted in my taking on the Tangentrider persona. So for me, matrixing my top five themes with “tangent” was a good choice.
How does this relate to your personal spin?
- Observe how you function in community.
- Gather up the observations and look for patterns.
- When you’ve gathered and pondered, find a metaphor that describes your way of functioning.
- Take the StrengthsFinder test (free if you buy a book with the code, like Teach with Your Strengths
- Run your top five themes through the matrixing process.
- Come back here and share a link to of contents of your personalized defiinitions. Here is a link to mine.
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