Know Thyself by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.


How well do you really know yourself? This question may seem a bit strange, but it is at the heart of playing to your strengths and maximizing your potential.

Knowing yourself can occur on several different levels. There are the physical attributes you possess that are uniquely your own. There are also the talents, skills, and abilities you learned and mastered over the years. These are often the words people use when asked to describe themselves, and they are usually evident to everyone who knows you and has spent time in your presence.

However, this is not all that makes up an individual. It is only the surface, and what is driving the external expression of who we are is our internal self. This internal self is the core of our strengths, which is sometimes called our self-worth and self-value.

In addition to those inner strengths and abilities, we also possess a unique set of values. These values are neither positive nor negative in weight, but they act as a compass to guide and direct how we use our strengths. When our actions and decisions are aligned with our values, we excel. If our actions and values are not in line, we cannot maximize our strengths and often feel unfulfilled, unhappy, or simply uncomfortable.

What are Your Values?

A very practical exercise is to sit down in a quiet space when you have a few minutes and think about the values that guide your way in how you interact with others both personally and professionally.

Values are your beliefs about the world around you. They help you to determine what is a priority in your life and when you are being true to yourself. Some people call values a compass in your life, helping you to stay true to your path.

When we do not know our values, it is easy to make mistakes in our personal and professional choices. This can lead to regrets, guilt, anger, and frustration as what seemed like a perfectly reasonable or even desirable choice turns out to be a disaster.

For example, people that value honesty as a top priority may feel uncomfortable if they are asked to work with a team or a leader where “bending the rules” is a way to do business. Regardless of the professional advantages or the increased pay, taking this position would result in feeling unhappy, stuck, or uncomfortable as the value of honesty is no longer in alignment with daily behaviors and expectations.

Getting to Know Your Values

One of the easiest ways to determine your values is to think of the times in personal and professional relationships where you felt the most satisfied and happy. What were you doing, what was your focus, what made the experience so positive? Write down all thoughts and then look for the individual values.

Examples of values include positivity, loyalty, independence, contribution, leadership, service, balance, and challenge. Once you identify your values, you being to truly know yourself and work towards your strengths.