Monday, October 10, 2011

Evolving or Devolving

By Juan Garcia, MCLP Class 2012

I have always thought one of the most important goals of humankind is harmony. Sounds natural, right? Everybody living together in perfect harmony, accepting, helping, and caring about each other and being truly happy about each other’s accomplishments. Those sentiments were reflected on a Strengths Finder assessment I took in 2006. Harmony was on my top five, it actually ranked first or second. I was constantly pursuing it, achieving it, living it.

My approach was simple. There was no room for pointless conflict. For some reason I was always able to find my coveted common ground, keeping futile confrontations away and focusing on the bigger picture. I was the mediator, the negotiator, the glue that held everything together. My life aligned exactly with how the strengths finder book describes it: “we are all in the same boat, and we need this boat to get where we are going. It is a good boat. There is no need to rock it just to show that you can.”

Before I continue, I think it is important to clarify that I don’t shy away from conflict. I think there is value in conflict as long as it is intended to challenge each other, help grow, and improve. I am not talking about that kind of positive conflict. I refer to people rocking the boat just to show they can.

After I took the first Strengths finder, a series of personal and professional situations made me realize some people need chaos and conflict in their lives as much as I need and value harmony. I still don’t understand why would anybody prefer conflict over harmony but trust me, some people do. I think they just need it so they can feel alive. According to my observations, some people may just be addicted to pointless conflict just like some people are addicted to adrenaline. I started thinking about how much energy I was spending (wasting?) fostering harmony among those around me.

I started suspecting this when regardless of the situation people addicted to conflict always found a way to disrupt my harmony. It didn’t matter what the situation was, there was always a reason to start a new conflict. It was clear to me that these conflicts were not to challenge each other, to improve, to advance. Conflict was being created simply because it was too calm or quiet for their liking. At some point, which I don’t know exactly when, I involuntarily stopped working so much on the pursuit of harmony. I didn’t want to waste all my energy in something with so many variables out of my control and with such a short-lasting result, especially when I needed it to last because my other dominant strengths is “achiever”.

I did not make this change purposely; I think I just learned to live with worthless conflict in my life by effectively blocking it along with the people creating it. I was able to move forward by focusing on the positive of the situation. I didn’t realize I had made this adjustment until I took the Strengths Finder assessment again in 2011 as part of the MCLP. This was my greatest finding this time around. At that point everything clicked; I realized the involuntary change I had made. I was so surprised when Harmony was not listed on my top five that I immediately started thinking about it: Was it a defense mechanism? Was I evolving? Was I taking the easy way out? Unfortunately the more I think about it, the more unanswered questions I have. I feel like maybe I gave up on one of my true beliefs because I didn’t want to fight that battle. I am still thinking about it, I am still a work in progress and I hope this is just part of my evolution as a human being and not just that I am “devolving”.

I wanted to share this because I would like to know what has been your greatest finding about yourself so far from the self assessment tests we have taken or the discussions we have had.

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