The StrengthsQuest assessment that I took during my training as a Graduate Assistant for Career Services provided a list of my top five strengths. Emerging from positive psychology, the assessment only reports the strengths of each individual so that those strengths are emphasized and capitalized on, as opposed to the tendency many people have to focus on improving weaknesses. The assessment defines strengths as talents that have been invested in using time and psychological focus. My top five are, in order: Strategic, Learner, Relator, Intellection, and Input. Several of these strengths deal with an internal commitment I have to engaging in ongoing inquiry.
My learner strength means that I love learning, that I thrive on learning for the sake of learning, not simply because of what the learning will help me to know or do. Input means that I collect and gather, knowledge, information, objects, in order to have a full picture and understanding of any situation. My strength in intellection suggests that I enjoy thinking and intellectual activity. I enjoy the process of thinking things through and theoretical ideas. Each of these strengths shows a natural and internal commitment to continuing to learn, engage, and inquire about the work I will do each day.
However, I also believe that I have an external motivation to continue to learn and grow and engage with research and professional development, and this motivation is the students I work with. I owe it to them to be informed about the latest best practices, the newest technology, the trends and research and theories that may impact their college experiences.
In my doubt, there is a notion of forward movement, of restlessness, and this also relates to valuing ongoing inquiry and engagement. Fanny Howe (2003), a poet, showed me a way to think about how doubt can work to push me forward:
“When all the structures granted by common agreement fall away and that ‘reliable chain of cause and effect’ that Hannah Arendt talks about—breaks—then a person’s inner logic also collapses. She moves and sees at the same time, which is terrifying.
Yet strangely it is in this moment that doubt shows itself to be the physical double to belief; it is the quality that nourishes willpower, and the one that is the invisible engine behind every step taken.” (p. 25)
I commit to participate in ongoing inquiry and engagement, to employ that invisible engine. I have no choice.