Apr 12, 2011

Connecting Folks Since 1977 (or so)...

So, I'm the introspective type. Much of the time I think this is a strength. I like to process, and be as healthy--and as awesomely-awesome--as I can be, and all that. Sometimes of course, I over-think, which triggers my neuroses and contributes to panic, and probably makes me a little narcissistic. But whatever.

For me, what it comes down to is figuring out who I am and where I fit into the mix. I like to belong, and I like to know what I'm good at, and more importantly, I like to be aware of the things we should never, ever, put Skerrib in charge of (so far this list includes scrapbooking conventions, spa nights, telephone parties, and the knitting of garments).

Growing up as a church-kid, one of the things I got into was spiritual gift assessments. You know, the quizzes where you try desperately not to come up with the spiritual gift of service, because then you'll be stuck doing dishes and emptying trash & stuff, when you really want to be up front giving the entire congregation what-for, and foretelling churchwide plagues, and whatnot. Or maybe that's just me. The thing about spiritual gifts (or any) assessments is that they can get stupid quickly. I constantly over-thought the quizzes and came up with such varied results that, depending on the test, I had pretty much every gift (except mercy--that is one I will never be accused of having).

Well, after several years I stopped taking the assessments, and starting telling people I had the spiritual gift of "hanging out." Which sounds like a cop-out, but when it comes down to it, that's what I'm good at. I'm not huge into entertaining, per se, but I do enjoy having people over for informal meals and just talking, playing games, or whatever. Some of my favorite times with friends have been days spent running errands together. I enjoy being someone around whom people can feel free to be themselves (and I have since discovered that I'm probably some combination of teacher-pastor-administrator, but I'm still fairly adamant about the whole hanging-out thing).

Adding to this conundrum is the fact that God seems to have determined that I am someone who--for the time being anyway--moves every few years. So I am in & out of communities. I enjoy forming deep relationships but don't have the benefit of lots of time to form them. So I jump in where I can, and do what I can while I can before it's on to the next place. Which is a bummer in that I start over a lot, and therefore feel like I'm repeating myself all the time and going "Have I told you this before?"

Well, recently I read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. The Tipping Point describes the spot where mere fads become phenomena. Like how the entire nation becomes obsessed with a particular purse brand, or how suddenly everyone is taking swing dancing lessons, or entire school districts suddenly have to make a policy to regulate Pokemon cards.

As it turns out, the secret is less about the fads themselves and more about the people promoting them. Gladwell describes three main people who help spread fads: Mavens, Salespeople, and Connectors. Salespeople are fairly self-explanatory, and I forget what Mavens are, but Connectors are what caught my eye. Connectors have a foot in lots of different worlds, and have a way of, well, connecting people who wouldn't otherwise go together.

And it so happens that I am a connector. As far as skills and such go, I'm much more of a generalist than a specialist. I've tried about a zillion different things in my life, but have "stuck" with very few. I like knowing a little bit about a lot of things. Even in recent years as I have had to narrow my scope, I still keep a toe in several regions, if not worlds. And few things make me happier than seeing others make connections. So it totally makes sense that I am one to use my experiences in different places and with (fairly-vastly) different things to bring people together who might not meet otherwise. In other words, I like using my powers for good.

I'm not saying this is my entire identity or anything, but it helps complete the picture for me, and that makes me happy. Now, go get coffee with a friend, or meet someone new and surprising, or something. Tell 'em Skerrib sent you...


Bee said...

I've heard about that book and now I have to read it.

Mavens are those who bring the masses information. Information brokers of sorts to connect with others. I always felt I was a mix of Maven and Connector. (see, I even know about Mavens, lol)

There is something big to be said about "hanging out". You can be a great example of Christ but without "hanging out" with someone, coming to a mutual level of relationship with them, they wouldn't know *why* you are that example. It's a good thing.
PS. Dude, I wanna hang out!

Marcy said...

Oh, yeah, spiritual gift assessments. Yeesh. I get everything except giving, it seems. I can get a dozen different Myers-Briggs results, too, at least from online versions.

And I totally think hanging out should be on those assessments.