Ecocentricity Blog: At Full Strength

By: John A. Lanier
Nov 13, 2019 9:30 AM ET
Summary: 

Ellen MacArthur, Andrew Morlet, and their team are true visionaries in the circular economy movement. Spend some time digging into their work and I promise you’ll come away wiser for it.

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Years ago, Interface used the Clifton Strengths personality test for their employees. Back then it was called StrengthsFinder, and my father was impressed enough by it to share it with the rest of our family. I think it was the first personality test that I ever took.

This program takes a unique approach to describing a person’s psychological profile. The online test identifies a person’s tendencies for 34 different categories of strengths. Examples include Strategic, Focus, and Learner, and it is all geared toward increasing people’s productivity and ability to work well in teams. The theory is that people should know and develop their natural strengths, rather than try to mitigate their weaknesses. I think it makes good sense.

At the end of the test, your top five strengths are identified. What’s great about it is that, no matter what themes are identified, they are framed positively (ergo, they are all strengths). Here are mine, with descriptions from Gallup’s website:

  1. Restorative – People exceptionally talented in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems. They are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.
  2. Responsibility – People exceptionally talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.
  3. Belief – People exceptionally talented in the Belief theme have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their lives.
  4. Relator – People exceptionally talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.
  5. Includer – People exceptionally talented in the Includer theme accept others. They show awareness of those who feel left out and make an effort to include them.

I want to focus on my Relator strength (though, for the record, I think all of these characterize me pretty well). While I can pretend to be an extrovert, I really thrive on establishing deep individual connections through conversation. I’ll sling small talk with the best of them, but I’m always itching to go deeper, discovering how other people view the world. I think this is why Clifton Strengths pegged me as a Relator.

It also explains why interviewing people for Mid-Course Correction Revisited was my favorite part of writing the book. Honestly, I had a blast with it. There were so many tremendous conversations, but I want to call out one in particular – my interview with Ellen MacArthur and Andrew Morlet from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Both of them possess that unique combination of brilliance and relatability. As a result, our conversation flowed effortlessly as we explored nuanced aspects of creating the circular economy. Even in just that hour-long conversation, I came away having learned so much. I have no idea what their Clifton Strengths might be, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Achiever, Analytical, Connectedness, and Futuristic are some of their highest strengths.

If you’d like to read the edited interview I did with them, you can find it on page 203 of my book. That said, my main point here is that Ellen, Andrew, and their team are true visionaries in the circular economy movement. Spend some time digging into their work and I promise you’ll come away wiser for it.

And as a teaser, here’s one of the latest papers they created – “Completing the Picture: How the Circular Economy Tackles Climate Change.” Give it a read, and I’ll share my thoughts on it next week!

Valerie Bennett
Ray C. Anderson Foundation
+1 (770) 317-5858