I keep a personnel file on myself.  I know that’s odd, but every once in a while it pays off. I recently had cause to look in that file and rediscovered a personal inventory I took a long time ago: SIMA: System for Identifying Motivated Abilities.

The amazing thing about SIMA is how accurate it was both then and now—certain traits just don’t change over time.  God has made each of us with instrinsic motivations to do a certain kind of work.  Some babies just come out musical, or mechanical, or comedic.  To identify those intrinsic motivations, SIMA asks you to reflect on accomplishments at each stage of your life that gave you deep satisfaction—beginning with childhood.  These weren’t necessarily the biggest achievements or the ones other people affirmed, but the ones you personally felt best about.  Then you identify the common themes. While doing my own inventory I was surprised by how many of those accomplishments no one even knew about but me.

The process of taking SIMA was lengthy and painful, involving a lot of reflection and writing.  Fortunately for me, my wife did the process at the same time, which made it easier for me to keep my focus.  But once I started thinking about it, things I was motivated to do popped out.  When I was in late elementary school I didn’t have much homework, but I was supposed to log a certain amount of time studying so I wouldn’t get in trouble with my parents.  So while I was supposed to be studying, I invented games.  I’d design things.  I’d take common household items and figure out new applications for them.  I’d experiment with my chemistry set, mixing different items until I came up with something that I was sure no one else had invented yet.

Those of you who know me are likely smiling at this point.  I haven’t changed much at all since then.  I traced similar stories through high school, college, young adulthood, and beyond, wrote them out, then read back over them identifying common themes.  Here’s a snippet of the results I got back:

Four of Bob’s motivated abilities:

  • Investigating:  by experimenting, trial and error
  • Organizing: by structuring, providing definition, focusing, prioritizing
  • Planning: by strategizing, charting a course/drafting, laying out
  • Developing: by blending, synthesizing, formulating, consolidating/innovating, improvising/maximizing

If you’re interested in checking out SIMA, you can find a description and more information at this link: http://www.thirdriverinsights.com/