5 Life Lessons From Mom That Influenced my Strengths

life lessons
Daniel Dopler

Daniel Dopler

  • In this post we will celebrate my mom and how her life lessons influenced my top 5 strengths from the Clifton StrengthsFinder 2.0. 
  • My top five Strengths are: Relator, Individualization, Self-Assurance, Adaptability and Arranger

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I was unable to post for Mother’s Day due to operational needs and the working towards returning home from deployment. As I had just posted on personality tests, I wanted to relate one of the personality tests to life lessons I learned from my mom. For this post I will relate my top five strengths from the Clifton StrengthFinders 2.0 test to life lessons of my youth. My top five strengths are; Relator, Individualization, Adaptability, Arranger, and Self Assurance. For each of these strengths my mother was critically important in their development. These life lessons and stories are a few that shaped the person I have become. Understanding where we come from and how we came to be is the key to our unlocking our best futures. 

Life Lesson for Relator

As a child and into my teen years I would have nightly conversations with my mom and discuss various life challenges. She would patiently listen, asking questions that would allow me to clarify my thoughts and beliefs. Many of my world views originated out of those conversations and how I felt in given situations. Mostly it was about friendships, or how to handle comments or actions from coaches. I learned through her example. Often, I would listen to her try and work through her crisis and problems. I would wait until she asked for my opinion before I gave it to her. The empathy I have today originated from these conservations and I continue to use the skills today. 

The Relator strength gains it power by keeping few close friends, favoring depth other width of contacts. These conversations drew out my natural preferences to fewer high-quality relationships. To this day I remain in touch with a small circle of people who I feel are important in my life. Within work and as a leader it allows me to understand the people I work with and draw out their best work. This focus on each individual allows me to respect all my peers but treat them differently to reveal their best work.   

Life lessons, mom

Life Lesson for Individualization 

Just as Relator allows me to have few close-knit relationships that celebrate depth vice width. My mother had to do the same with my brothers and I. As a single mother of three boys with three distinct personalities, she was in a constant struggle to find the means to relate to each of us. Where this was most apparent was with school work and sports. 

My youngest brother it was a challenge to get him to do anything, while he didn’t want to be excluded from sports he would not want to go to practice or do his homework. Bargaining with him was more about attention than the actual outcomes. 

My middle brother, who is arguably the smartest of the three of us, needed to be guided to interests that were healthy. Not one to follow and wanting to stand out for his own accolades, he needed to be recognized for his own achievements. 

For me is was pretty simple, if she wanted me to finish my school work threaten me to not be allowed to go to practice. I would go to school and finish all my homework while in school so I could go to practice. 

Through our conversations I realized that she treated each of us differently but loved us all equally. The value of seeing each person as the person they are and not the person you want them to be is very valuable. I have learned to treat my colleagues in the same manner. And I try to prepare feedback to each individual that in a manner they can accept and use to improve themselves.   

Life lessons, mom

Life Lesson for Adaptability

After my parents separated and years later finalized their divorce, as a child we were sort of at the whim of our parent’s decisions on who we would be with at what times. As events or scheduling conflicts happened we went with the flow. We needed to adapt to new circumstances and that was just part of the deal. Sometimes no matter how much planning would go into something, it may not work out as planned. My mom would go with the flow and do her best with what she had. As we matured this was ingrained in my brothers and I in different ways. For me it became my modus operandi. 

While I can appreciate a plan and do frequently plan myself, I also enjoy having to go off the cuff. It adds excitement to my life. For years I have tried various planning tactics and, in the end, I realized that I just need priorities and due dates. If I try to plan every hour of the day I immediately rebel against my own plan. A benefit of this has been the sometimes serendipity strikes and my adaptability proves key. It makes life easier to enjoy in the moment and I don’t stress about not sticking to the schedule. 

This isn’t for everyone. My Fiancé loves to have plans. She would like a schedule for each day of our vacations. We have worked together to find a compromise that works for both of us. We will book restaurant reservations for each night and a few days for certain activities. This allows her to feel like there is order and gives me freedom to enjoy spontaneous moments the rest of time.  

Within work this allows me to find solutions that may not clear by looking at the intent behind tasks. Understanding the intent, I can then use other means to achieve the same goal. This way of thinking has allowed me to circumvent obstacles in creative ways that has led to organization changes. My adaptability allows me to reframe problems to find new solutions that keep progress moving forward. 

Life lessons, mom

Life Lesson for Arranger

Growing up with three boys that all played sports I have no idea how my parents kept their sanity. I remember at one point, I was on the Jr. High Basketball team, playing little league and travel soccer all at the same time. Meanwhile my younger brother was also in little league and another travel team. To keep things straight and find the most efficient way to get each child to each practice both my parents had to work together.  

We would schedule out the rides and “go bags” (we had individual bags for each sport,) the night before. Sometimes the only way to know what sport I was going to was what bag I had with me. Each night or morning we would put the bags in the car so we could change on the way to the next practice. If what I needed wasn’t in those bags then I didn’t have it for practice. Though I hadn’t thought of this until recently, I have been using “go bags” since I was ten.

Within my life in general I am constantly arranging things in my mind to find the most efficient ways to do things. I need to go to three stores to pick up twenty different things. What is the most efficient way to do that? We have to train five critical skills to eight people in two hours. What drills will allow me to do that? What resources do I have to achieve this? How can I stack these skills with others to add benefit to training? What individuals need this more than others? Can I use those others once they have completed a round? 

These questions and answers have become a natural part of how I work that I don’t even think about. Like adaptability, arranger allows me to find unique solutions to problems by reframing problems. 

Life Lessons, Mom,

Life Lesson for Self-Assurance

My mom had some pretty intense challenges throughout her life. She often quipped, “what else could go wrong.” To which chance or destiny would invariable add something else. Everything from, back surgery to fuse two disks, to being diagnosed with breast cancer three times. Every time she would move past one obstacle, her victory would be short lived and she was confronted with another. When I would ask her how she was doing, her answer was always, “Good! Just taking it one day at a time.” When times got really tough she would shorten that her next meal or medication time. (A Life Lesson I used multiple times during difficult times.)

Despite her challenges my mom was always adamant about what she said she will do. Her resilience in each recovery, awe inspiring to my brothers and I. Repeatedly she would recover, start to rebuild her life and work until the next ordeal. Each time reaching new level and pushing her own limits and what she thought was possible. 

At multiple times in my life, I have looked at challenges and realized that I can achieve what I set out to do. I have this ability because my mom taught me through her words and her actions that the only limits in life are the ones you place on yourself. Through various aspects of my life I used these thoughts to continue to push passed my limits and find new ground.

Part of this was reframing the idea of failure. My mom once confided in me that failure is only truly failure if it causes you to give up on your dream. Until that point it is not failure, but a lesson that you learn from to improve. This reframing, allows me continue to push limits and “fail” repeatedly. My self-assurance provides me the confidence to know that I will achieve what I set out to do. 

Life lessons, mom

After Thoughts

My mom was an incredible woman and she has forever impacted my brothers and my lives with her life lessons. She passed, the 6th of September 2015 from her third fight with breast cancer. There isn’t a day that go by that I don’t think of her and the life lessons she provided us. Perhaps I will share more in the future. When I got the results of my StrengthFinder 2.0 test back, I realized the influence she had with these traits. Especially the Self-Assurance. As a tribute to Mother’s Day I wanted to recognize these strengths and their source.  

How much of a role did your parents play in strengths? Are there specific life lessons that you can remember that played a role in your strength’s development? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

Cheers, 

Danny 

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