When I interviewed for my current teaching position, one of the questions I was asked was to describe my value added. The interviewing committee wanted to know what worth I would bring to the school outside of the usual classroom duties. I described my passion for wellness and how I could help the staff and students with education and motivation with food and fitness. I guess my answer was acceptable, since I got the job:)
That question stayed with me over the past three years. All too often, people’s assets and strengths remain hidden. In a school environment, great leaders and planners and problem solvers often hide behind their classroom doors in an environment that may not reveal all of their strengths. And, unfortunately, sometimes liabilities are visible while assets are buried (I think about one former coworker who always missed meeting but was amazing at parent phone calls, which we rarely witnessed).
It’s all too easy to make assumptions about what someone brings (or fails to bring) to the table. But we only see a piece of the story. A part of the environment.
In a relationship, your partner may not be hiding some of his or her assets behind a classroom door (unless you’re married to a teacher, that is!), but it is still easy for strengths to hide and for you to fail to see some of the value added that your partner brings to the relationship.
I was aware of this in my own marriage this past week. I was on spring break, so I had time at home during the work week. I could overhear Brock conducting his business from down the hall and it reminded me all over again how expert he is at assertive negotiations. That’s a side of him I do not normally witness. I revealed some of my own value added by planning, shopping for and installing over 150 plants in a single day. He knew I could garden, but had never actually seen me in action. He was puzzled (about a third of them are roots and rhizomes still buried beneath the soil) but impressed.
We often fixate on what our partners don’t have; we ruminate on their weaknesses and liabilities. Next time you find yourself complaining about what isn’t there, try focusing on the value added that they bring to the relationship. If you feel like some of your strengths are unappreciated, ask yourself if they are hidden. We often assume that others are aware of all that we do, but there focus is on their thoughts and tasks. It’s okay to share your value added.
We all have strengths. Reveal them. Share them. Embrace them.
You are valuable.
And if you’re ever in Atlanta and have a talent for weeding, please give me call. I’ll be happy to see your value added:)