I have written before about the power of the coincidences and the power of the Spirit at work, but I have a story from this week that I have to share. I need to go back to November when I was in Northfield Minnesota leading a Strength Finders workshop for hospitality teams from Minnesota and Iowa. During the workshop, I like to use real-life examples so participants can get to know and become more familiar with teammates strengths in action. I commonly use my strengths as an example.
One of my strengths is – Individualization. People who are exceptionally talented in this area are intrigued with the unique qualities of each individual. They have a gift for figuring out how different people can work productively together. (Source: Clifton Strength Finders Themes Card 2002) I like to paint a picture of what the area of talent and strength look like in the workplace so workshop participants become familiar and can begin to recognize the areas of expertise and strengths in their teams.
One of the fundamental tenets with Strength Finders is the importance of growing and developing your areas of strength. After equipping the teams on the areas of talent, I then share ideas of how team members can practice and develop their strengths. With practice, you can begin to perform at top levels of performance most of the time. Ok back to my story.
Next, I shared with the workshop participants that when I took Strength Finders, I was not sure about the Individualization strength. To me, it sounded kind of lonely and well individual. At first, I resisted this strength as I am such a social being. The more I read and learned about my area of talent, the more curious I became. Strength Finders gave me language for a talent that I had always taken for granted. For me, the real magic happened when I began to read about the ideas for action to refine and develop my Individualization strength. One of the suggestions I read about for those with the Individualization strength is writing about people’s unique stories. Well, I thought that this isn’t a good idea as I feel I am a terrible writer. When I sit down to write I have great ideas in my head, and they make it to about my elbow, and then they keep going straight out in the universe – they never make the 90 degrees turn onto the paper! After trying to write some devotions, I found people responding very positively to the devotions and stories. With prompting from others, I began to write more stories to the point that I published my first book on December 2015 and my second book is coming out in April 2017. I began to see first hand the power of Strength Finders, and I was encouraging the workshop participants to be open to trying some of the ideas for action.
Participants in the seminar respond warmly to the personal examples, and it was at the next break that the fun began. One of the participants Tom from Decorah, Iowa came up and shared that his mother used to publish books back in the day. He asked what the title of the book. When I shared the title name Seeing the Extraordinary in the Ordinary: Lesson of Hope and Healing, Tom shared his mother wrote on spirituality as well. We loved the connection – especially as he told me how his mom Betty would carry books in her trunk. Yes, I do that too!
Next, I asked Tom where his mother lived, and he said she lived next to Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Hopkins Minnesota. I said no way. I just signed up to lead the Sisters in Spirit Women’s Retreat in February at Gethsemane Lutheran Church. To which Tom said my mom attends that retreat. What a small world and beautiful connection – but wait there is more.
During the break, Tom purchased a copy of my book and asked if I could deliver it to his mom at the retreat. You bet I would be thrilled to give Betty a copy.
In the days before the Sisters in Spirit Retreat, I received a package in the mail from Tom. To my delight, I found three books written by Betty inside. As I glanced through the books, I discovered a poem titled Mary? Or Martha? Which Am I? This caught my attention. You see I had been searching for a poem or prayer for none other than my session on Mary and Martha. How perfectly divine that the Spirit would be at work in Tom to connect two Sisters in Spirit to prepare for the retreat and to accomplish good far greater than each of us could individually.
Friends, when we make and take the time to slow down and form meaningful connections beautifully things happen. Complete strangers from Decorah, Iowa and Excelsior, Minnesota while visiting Northfield, Minnesota can positively impact the world. So breathe. Be open and find meaningful connections.