I originally wrote this essay in April of 2018, 4 days before embarking on the Saving The Rabbits of Ravensbrück documentary film trip to Europe. You can read about that extraordinary experience here. 

A strengths finder test success story

Someone asked me today about this crazy trip I am taking to Europe. She said, "How did you get that gig? Sounds perfect for you!" I tried to succinctly tell her, but it really is just a jumbled mess of threads and leads and initiative and thoughts and conversations. But really, it boils down to connection

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CONNECTION

This concept has emerged as the beating, constant rhythm of my life. I pursue connection, sometimes at great and surprising and impulsive lengths. Most of the time, whatever effort or plain guts that was required has paid off in spades. One late night email to an author of a book I just read… and three years later we are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro together. (true story) Sometimes it has fallen flat. But, even as a "realist" (the optimistic view of one's pessimistic tendencies), I believe it is always worth the risk/effort to pursue these connections. 

I am a connector. It is what I am great at. It is what fulfills me most. I connect with ideas, missions, visions, causes, and most of all the people that represent those things. I connect for my own benefit, and I connect others for their own benefit. I most always am more fulfilled with the latter. A friend once told me I need new business cards that say "Chelsea Hudson - Chief Connector." I keep looking for job positions as the CC (chief connector), but have yet to find them... 

What prompts me to connect with a person, place, thing or idea? I couldn’t tell you. It is intuitive, instinctual and compelling. As in I HAVE to try to make that connection happen before I can really move on in my life. It is a gut thing, a deep soul drive. And most of the time I have no idea why or what will come. I just have to go after it. The journeys that have come about because of my pursuit of connection have been priceless… and hard, and sometimes complete fails. But always enriching. For me, connection loses its magic if I try to sanitize or tame it too much. So I just go with it, believing that something beautiful is at work. 

“For me, connection loses its magic if I try to sanitize or tame it too much. So I just go with it, believing that something beautiful is at work.”

I have spent a lot of time, energy and money on various tests, typing and assessments over the last couple of years. They absolutely fascinate me. To read things that make you jump out of your chair and go "YES! That's so ME!" is so validating when you feel like your particular brand of normal is anything but normal. (Unless you are an Enneagram 4, like me… in that case you totally dig that you are not “normal”)

So, I went back to my Gallup Strengths Finder test today. I remember being a little confused by the terms and concepts when I got the results in 2016. But today? Wow. It was one of those, "Holy crap this is insane" moments. These helped me understand what has happened over the last 4 months. 

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ideation

People who are especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.

Instinctively, you usually find novel and fresh ways to do things. People turn to you when they find themselves struggling to generate ideas.

You enjoy collecting a variety of information.

adaptability

People who are especially talented in the Adaptability theme prefer to 'go with the flow.'

Mind-numbing routines, processes, paperwork, or production lines eventually bore you. On the other hand, you thrive in environments where you must deal with unexpected requests, unanticipated problems, or changing priorities.

input

People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. 

... you gravitate to books and articles that concentrate on bygone days. Your emotions are stirred when you read about individuals who overcame incredible difficulties with courage and grace. Reading transports you to the past. Often you return to the present transformed in mind and spirit. 

Reading historians' writings or listening to their conversations probably fills your min with many questions. You enjoy filing away their answers, sensing one day all this information will prove to be useful. Whether it actually does become useful makes no difference to you. Knowledge is its own reward, in your opinion.

connectedness

People who are especially talented in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason. 

Chances are that you occasionally are curious about people’s diverse philosophies of life. 

Because of your strengths, you underscore what people have in common even thought their backgrounds, experiences, languages, cultures or interests vary greatly. You facilitate dialogue between individuals. You create peace within groups and between people by linking them to one another. 

Instinctively, you sometimes sense a special bond with certain individuals regardless of whether you have met them. Perhaps time and distance does not prevent you from feeling closely linked to specific people or the lives they lead. 

intellection

Once in a while you force people to think philosophically about the meaning of good, evil, truth, justice or happiness. 

By nature, you relish reading about topics that fascinate you. When a subject intrigues you, you review a wide range of printed materials. You glean as much information as your possibly can about your areas of greatest interest. 

It is very likely that you link your passion for reading to your work. 

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So basically this is how 2018 has gone down thus far:

  1. I picked up a new book I had been wanting to read. A historical fiction book, Lilac Girls. (INPUT)
  2. I had some crazy connections with the story of the Rabbits of Ravensbrück because of my personal experience there 13 years ago. (CONNECTEDNESS) And then reached out to the author to share my experiences with her and express gratitude for her book.
  3. Somehow, while researching the author and story further (INTELLECTION, IDEATION, INPUT) I discovered a filmmaker in the process of making a documentary about the Rabbits. I reached out to her expressing my excitement and support of the film. We connected. I offered my photography services to aid in promoting the film if ever needed. She expressed how she has really wanted and needed a professional photographer on her previous filming trips. (CONNECTEDNESS) 
  4. In 4 days, I get on a plane with all of my gear and meet up with this filmmaker in Paris (and then Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk) for her last round of filming and interviewing the survivors. 
  5. Our last stop will be Ravensbrück Concentration Camp for the annual commemoration of the liberation of the camp. The very same event I stumbled into completely by accident 13 years ago. It was an experience that marked me and one that I knew was for a “reason.” And it was this “reason” that made me write the author and filmmaker in the first place. (CONNECTEDNESS)

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If you would have asked me on January 1, 2018 what I thought this year would hold… I am 110% sure it wouldn’t have had anything to do with the Holocaust, Europe, or a documentary film. And yet, 4 months in, I can’t imagine this year being any different. I have dived deep into this new-to-me world and I am absorbing and learning and consuming all I can. I have tracked down Holocaust survivors across the country just to meet them face to face (CONNECT), read many books and watched countless films and documentaries about it all (INTELLECTION). But I cannot tell you WHY all of this is happening. Only that is IS and I am along for this ride as long as I am welcome. I feel incredibly honored and fortunate and cliche and all, #blessed, to be a part of whatever is coming of all of this. 

As my mom told me today, “You only see the jumbled, tangled mess of the threads on the back of a tapestry… but something beautiful and meaningful and intentional is being created on the other side. Just keep collecting the threads.” Fortunately, this strategy works for me (ADAPTABILITY). :)

“You only see the jumbled, tangled mess of the threads on the back of a tapestry… but something beautiful and meaningful and intentional is being created on the other side. Just keep collecting the threads.”

conclusion

If you, like me, feel lost and disconnected with yourself at times, take courage. Be curious. Take the tests. But take them with a grain of salt. Test the tests. Read about your results in books and listen to podcasts. Embrace it all. What feels weird and crazy and “not like the others” may just be your STRENGTHS and not weaknesses. In this case, knowledge truly is power. Maybe, just maybe, things are happening in your life for a reason and they are directly connected to how you are hard wired to operate. Maybe the jumbled mess really is just a beautiful work of art on the other side. 

RESOURCES:

If you want to dive into some tools that will help you know and understand yourself better, here are my favorite resources to date:

Enneagram

Strengths Finder

Myers-Briggs/16 Personalities