Getting To Know Me by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

Knowing yourself on a deeper level is critical in charting your course to personal and professional improvement and growth. While knowing yourself may seem obvious, it can be difficult to be objective and proactive in identifying our strengths and potential challenges and then planning for growth.

Many people who do not know themselves and recognize the areas where they should focus their growth are surprised when annual performance reviews or peer or management feedback is not positive. This is often a time when people feel criticized or misunderstood, particularly if they have not taken the time to consider their performance based on objective standards.  

Tips for Getting Started

The easiest place for most people to start is with their areas of strength. Make a list of the things that you know you do well. This list is not just about work performance but also your strengths in interpersonal relationships and getting things done outside of the work environment.

It can be helpful to think of this as a cumulative list. You were not always good at these strengths, and they were skills, attributes, or areas of interest and knowledge you developed over time and with experience.

Next, make a list of areas where you believe there is potential for growth. This growth can also extend beyond what you need in your current job. For those with a goal to transition to another career, consider the potential areas for growth in that new position.

Transferrable Skills and Knowledge

With the strengths and areas of growth lists, consider if any of your current strengths are applicable to the areas of growth. In many cases, the skills and abilities you have developed as a strength can be transferred or adapted to help in building areas where you feel you need to grow.

It is important to consider soft skills as well as specific performance objectives or certifications and degrees. Soft skills are essential for leadership roles and are often the most difficult to assess and develop.

Look at Yourself Like an Interviewer  

A great exercise is to imagine your dream job or the job you aspire to have in the next few years. Write or create a list of required skills and abilities. Then, assume the role of interviewer and assess your ability to meet those requirements.

Areas where you do not feel you meet the criteria are your growth areas. Areas where you meet or exceed the requirements are your strengths. Keep in mind, you can continue to develop strengths, and there is no need to limit your growth in any area. Knowing yourself and what you want to accomplish helps chart your personal and professional development course.