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May 11, 2020

This year at Purple Ink, we decided to use one of our CliftonStrengths® for our word of the year. I’ve been focusing on my strengths for about 5 years, and I decided to go into my 8th strength, Responsibility. A lot of my strengths focus on relationships, and I feel like those are “no brainers” for me. Responsibility is a strength that I relate to, and it’s a strength that I really want to engage more intentionally.

Strengths are put into different domains: Strategic, Influencing, Relationship Building, and Executing. Responsibility is in the Executing domain. In my top 10, I lead with Relationship Building strengths, but because those come so naturally to me, I want to focus more on getting stuff done. I am always going and doing, but being intentional in what I do and how I spend my time needs to be developed.

Many people have a bucket list, but sometimes I feel like mine is a bottomless bucket list. I want to do things, experience things, and spend time with people, but what drives my choices sometimes is feeling that I “need” to do things. A bottomless bucket list can be overwhelming and sometimes hard to focus on what is really important to me. Responsibility can help me decide how to spend my time to better meet my needs and those of my “stakeholders.” In the end, because relationships are the most important thing to me, exercising my Responsibility can be focused on what is going to help those relationships.

Paraphrasing from Gallup, Responsibility means that you take psychological ownership for anything you commit to, and whether large or small, you feel emotionally bound to follow it through to completion. If for some reason you can’t deliver, you look for ways to make it up to the person.

I love that description, and I wish I could say that I never mess up or fail people, but sometimes I do. Rest assured that when I do fail, I am my harshest critic. It’s interesting, because my desire to execute and get stuff done means that sometimes I’m moving very fast and sometimes my speed means a typo in an email. This can haunt me, and this, I need to get over. My desire to be responsible sometimes means I can take on too much as well.

How will I focus on responsibility in 2020?

This year, using my responsibility theme I will:

  • Slow down, take more time to plan my time strategically
  • Put processes in place to chunk time together (check email at specific intervals during the day instead of as soon as I see them and not work out of my inbox)
  • Eat the frog – it’s always easy for me to answer a question, take a call, review resumes, put out a fire, ideate on an issue. The frogs are the bigger projects, the things that involve steady focus, research, and even writing a blog!
  • Prioritize the BBL (Bottomless Bucket List). What’s important? Answering an email within 5 minutes or working on a resume for a client? A family vacation before all the kids are married and off on their own adventures? Playing pool with my youngest? Going to book club?
  • Be intentional about what I say “yes” to and when I decline. Is spending time with my husband or kids more important than going to a charity dinner? Maybe.
  • Use my communication strength to ask, “How can I best use my time for you?” to my family, friends, boss, colleagues, and clients.
  • Pay for people to do stuff I know I can do but don’t make the time.
  • Eliminate time wasters – social media, stupid shows, need I say more?
  • Be financially responsible. Do I need to buy another widget?

As I write this, we are in the early phase of the coronavirus pandemic and the term “responsibility” has new meaning. Are we overreacting? How conservative do we need to be? Are we irresponsible if we go out to eat? This is unprecedented in my lifetime. I’m going to be channeling my Responsibility theme even though my need for social interaction is at the core of who I am. My caution and level of personal responsibility may be critical for someone else.

What will YOU do in 2020?

If you know your CliftonStrengths®, I encourage you to join us on focusing on one of them this year. If not, consider taking the assessment at to discover your strengths. Need help in making a plan with your strengths or learning to apply them in your daily life – both personally and professionally? Want to work with your team to learn how to leverage your strengths together? Reach out to Purple Ink, or me directly, for more information!

Peggy Hogan
Peggy Hogan
Peggy is Purple Ink’s Vice President of Talent Services. She is passionate about helping organizations be more effective at sourcing and retaining top talent and loves the powerful effect connecting people to the right opportunity can have on their lives.

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