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VALOR Seminar- Richmond

I can’t believe it is already March…it seems like our VALOR seminar in Richmond was just a couple days ago.  Richmond was a great experience.  It was awesome to be there at the beginning of session and see how things work.

Admittedly, I was not well-versed in state lawmaking, so it was a very informative trip for me.  We have some really talented folks working on our behalf in the state government and also a talented group in our VALOR cohort who work with them on a variety of issues.  I’d especially like to thank Mike Aulgur for taking us around between sessions and introducing us to our local lawmakers.  Senator Emmett Hanger’s wife, Sharon, was my second-grade teacher. Being able to reconnect with her in Senator Hanger’s office was a highlight for me.

We had a lot of cool opportunities this trip.  We spent the first day at VA Farm Bureau Headquarters doing media and lobbying training.  Media training was a humbling experience for yours truly.  I was more nervous there for some reason than I am on most first dates.  I am thankful for the experience and training.  The good news is if I ever have to be in the bright camera lights, we’ve got the mulligan out of the way.

Other highlights from the trip include meeting with Virginia’s Agriculture team, specifically Virginia Secretary of Agriculture Bettina Ring, and attending the Virginia Agribusiness dinner. I won’t go into details, but there was a memorable moment Morgan, Kim and I spent with Bobby.  I hadn’t laughed that hard in a long time…  We get to do a lot of really neat things at these seminars, but the time we are able to spend after hours with each other is priceless.

This week I was finally able to catch a break between school/work to reflect a little bit on VALOR and the assessments we’ve done through it so far.  Each one of the assessments has been designed to make us think about ourselves, our tendencies and our approach to problems.  I won’t go into too much depth, but I briefly wanted to comment on my takeaways from each assessment we’ve taken to this point.

Kirton Adaption-Innovation Theory (KAI)

We covered this assessment at our first seminar under the guidance of our VALOR director, Dr. Megan Seibel.  This assessment focuses on how people solve problems.  By looking at three different areas (idea generation, methodology and management of structure), KAI provides feedback as to whether you are more of an adaptor or innovator and how that translates to group interactions.  Turns out I’m more of an adaptor.

On the idea generation aspect, I was barely on the innovative side of things meaning I tend to come up with more ideas than some at the beginning but many of these ideas might not be used.  My score shifted pretty dramatically on methodology to more of an adapter meaning I like to work closer within the system or structure in place and I prioritize efficiency.  I prefer stability and continuity over change if it can be helped.  On the management of structure score, I was on the adapter side as well.  Although I do not conform to every rule, I view rules as efficient guidelines and have a high regard for structure.

I really appreciate the self-awareness this assessment brought.  For an organization to run effectively it is important to have people on both sides of the spectrum.  Innovators think outside the box and provide ideas for needed change while adaptors help provide the stability organizations need to be reliable.  Knowing that different people have different approaches will help me recognize their talents and focus on that instead of potentially being frustrated just because they might be more innovative or adaptive than I am.

Strengths Quest

Our second seminar featured the Strengths Quest assessment given by Dana Fisher. It focused on figuring out your top five strengths and how those fit into the four domains of leadership strength: executing, influencing, relationship building and strategic thinking.

My top 5 strengths were:

  • Relator (Relationship building)
  • Responsibility(Executing)
  • Achiever (Executing)
  • Discipline(Executing)
  • Focus (Executing)

I think these 5 areas are a pretty accurate reflection of who I am or at least who I try to be.  As a relator, I really value close relationships with others.  Having this kind of closeness with people has certain risks.  It is easier for me to be taken advantage of.  But it is worth it for me because a relationship with anyone only has value if it is genuine.

In terms of the other 4, I have tried to really prioritize these areas the past several years.  I am definitely on the executor side of things. I like to make things happen and will work hard (sometimes too much) to get it done.

I think this assessment matches up pretty well with KAI for me.  I like to be organized and have a structure so that I can get things done and move the ball forward.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

Our third assessment took place at the Richmond seminar by Dr. Crystal Tyler-Mackey.  The Myers-Briggs assessment identifies which of the 16 different personality types you fit into.  Depending on how you respond to questions, you show your preferences for these four pairs of opposites.  I end up being an ISFJ/practical helper.

Extraversion or Introversion.  This deals with how you direct and receive energy.  I end up on the introversion side of things, directing more of my energy to my inner world and reflecting on my ideas and experiences.  Although I love being with others, I have to have “me” time to rejuvenate.  This is very accurate.

Sensing or Intuition.  This deals with how people take in information.  I scored way over on the sensing side of things here. I focus sometimes more on what I immediately perceive instead of the big picture.  Although I have a high degree of emotional intelligence, I can sometimes get wrapped up in things that are silly when you take the big picture into account.  When in doubt, I trust my gut.

Thinking or Feeling.  This is the way people decide and come to conclusions.  Turns out I’m more of a feeler.  I was a little surprised by this at first, but upon reflection it makes sense. I think it lines up pretty well with the way I take in information and, going back to Strengths Quest, being a relator. I value understanding and harmony.

Judging or Perceiving.  These are opposite ways to approach the outside world.  According to the assessment, people who favor judging typically come to conclusions quickly and want to move on and take an organized approach to the world.  This lines up with my “executor” tendencies in Strengths Quest and with my “sensing” tendency.

Conclusion

The three assessments we have taken so far have given me much more insight into my tendencies and preferences for problem solving.  I think it is pretty cool how all three of my results are similar to each other in a lot of ways.  Having this information will help me build upon my strengths and recognize the strengths that others bring to the table.

As a life update, I really appreciate all the understanding and support from everyone the past couple months.  My life has been crazy busy since January with a full load of law classes in Lexington on top of starting a new job in DC.  I couldn’t do it without my family and friends being there for me.  Thankfully, I will wrap up classes and exams in 6 weeks. Life is great, but I could not be more excited for April 22ndto get here.  If you want to win your NCAA basketball tournament bracket, make sure to pick Texas Tech.  They’re pretty good 😉

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