Success starts with understanding yourself

From putting on your mask before helping others to loving yourself before you can love others – the theme of focusing on yourself first to achieve success prevails.

To achieve organizational, professional and personal goals, it’s critical to invest time to understand your strengths, growth areas and weaknesses. It will help you as you set personal goals to be a better partner, teammate, friend, leader and mentor. Understanding your strengths, management and communication styles will help you identify and understand that of others. That will also help you lead, inspire and unite others as well as avoid/convert conflicts into productive conversations. Here are a few of the tests/techniques that I recommend investing in to and why (what you’ll gain from them):

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®

This assessment gives you insight into what makes you, you across four key areas:

  • How you get your energy (Extraversion vs. Introversion)
  • How you take in information and learn (Sensing vs. Intuition)
  • How you make decisions (Thinking vs. Feeling)
  • How you like to organize your time and environment (Judging vs. Perceiving)

Developing a clearer sense of self-awareness and awareness of others allows you to better frame decisions, improve communications and understand the personal needs of others more effectively. There is a price to unlock your full report (~$50), but if you’ve taken the test before and recall your results you can gain a lot of insights on their public site with regards to how knowing your personality type can help you:

  • Work better with others and manage your own work. Including triggers to look for and how to avoid them.
  • Impact the way you learn best and how you approach teaching others, whether it’s at work or at home. They have a few parenting tips regarding on the personality type differential.
  • Appreciate and understand differences in relationships with friends, partners, and children.

The Six Thinking Hats
Based on the book by Edward De Bonno, this communications technique gives you insight into your leadership style and how to run effective collaborative meetings and influence others. Each of the hats represents a different perspective:

  • White hat – Logical objective look at the issue based entirely on facts and figures. This thinking type focuses on what we know or at least on the best information available.
  • Red hat – Provides the emotional view; how people feel about the issue.
  • Black hat – This is the devil’s advocate viewpoint. The focus is on issues, challenges, roadblocks, and anything that can go wrong.  
  • Yellow hat – This is the possibility view. The focus here is on everything that could go right and the capabilities to make it happen.
  • Green hat – This thinking type focuses on creativity, innovation and new ideas. It provides the ability to look at the issue from a different perspective.
  • Blue hat – Blue hat thinking is the work the team does to organize the process and make adjustments if the process isn’t as productive as it should be. It is used to shift the focus from the problem to the process of solving the problem.

Sequenced well you can use the hats at work to ideate, collaborate and sway others including friends and family:

  • Debate
    • Green: present the conclusion – proposed outcome
    • White: outline the facts
    • Black: cast out the impossible
    • Green: outline most probable
    • White: repeat the facts
    • Red: make emotional appeal
  • Problem Solving
    • Blue: agree on the problem
    • White: outline the facts
    • Green: ideate solutions
    • Red: gauge feeling on ideas
    • Yellow: outline possibilities
    • Black: discard ideas that won’t work
    • Green: dive into remaining ideas
    • Blue: restate solution
  • Brainstorming
    • Blue: state context for meeting
    • White: state the facts
    • Green: generate ideas
    • Yellow: outline advantages
    • Black: outline disadvantages and pitfalls
    • Red: assess sentiment
    • Blue: agree on next steps, action items and takeaways
  • Performance Reviews
    • Blue: lay context for conversation
    • Red: gain emotional pulse
    • White: present, facts, behaviors and data
    • Yellow: speak about what’s working – strengths
    • Black: speak about what’s not working – areas of opportunities
    • Green: ideate solutions to address opportunities together
    • Red: get a pulse on emotional perspective, how are they feeling now
    • Blue: outline next steps

Clifton StrengthsFinder
This is my favorite and the one that I found to be the most beneficial. Not only did it raise my self-awareness but it helped me better understand my colleagues, how to influence others as well as helped me pivot my career to do more meaningful work. For $20 you can obtain your top five strengths or you can get your full 34 theme sequence report for $50. The 45-minute assessment measures your natural patterns of feeling, behaving and thinking and categorizes them into 34 Strengths themes

  • Self-Awareness: Understanding your top strengths and how to speak about them is incredibly helpful at job interviews, performance reviews and will help you build up your confidence to thrive.
  • Elevate your team: Understanding your strengths and all strengths allows you to gauge your team’s strengths and can help you motivate, grow and incentivize peers.
  • Increase engagement and impact: Honing and building your strengths and the opposite side of them can help you maximize relationships and also your impact at work. For me it helped me realize that while I enjoy getting things done as an achiever, I need to build out breaks, celebrate the small wins along the way and encourage others. It helped me not alienate others – that even though others may not be as focused it doesn’t mean they don’t care or are not doing good work. We all have different strengths and need to complement each other to succeed.

The creator of Clifton StrengthsFinder, Don Clifton, discovered that the areas of greatest room for overall personal improvement aren’t your weakness but rather your strengths. Using the individualized reports, you can gain proven advice and ideas on how to apply your strengths in every part of your life and strategies to help you manage what you don’t do best (lesser themes) so you can focus on getting the most from your strengths and that of others.

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