To Grow Yourself, You Must Know Yourself

I love taking quizzes. Not the kind that shows I have no idea where Lichtenstein is, but the ones that pop up on Facebook and it turns out if I was a Disney Princess I would be Ariel, and if I had to live in any city in the US then I am most suited to Portland. This has been a long standing interest, probably starting out when I was a pre-teen and I took those quizzes that appeared in Cosmo and Seventeen magazine. I am definitely not alone in my interest in this type of thing, because countless people take these types of quizzes on a regular basis. They are fun to do and usually a lot of nonsense, but there are also quizzes that can get you thinking a little bit about yourself. This can result in some increased insight into your own behavior and work style, as well as other peoples.

 In my opinion, a key strength, in terms of being able to progress and grow in your career (and life in general), is having a clear self-awareness and understanding of yourself. If you are aware of your own strengths, limitations, tendencies and working style, then you are well placed to build on this in order to adapt and grow. This self-knowledge can help you plan your work day ( I don’t do any problem solving after 2pm unless there is coffee involved ), build on strengths, and also you identify what things you may need to work on. For example, years ago I took the Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire and scored strongly as being very Sequential, but extremely low when it came to thinking more Globally. I could clearly identify the ‘how’ of getting something done, but I wasn’t as good at identifying the ‘what’. Being so Sequential at that point was fine because my boss was a very Global thinker, so we balanced each other out. I knew though that if I was ever going to advance I would need to be much more of a Global thinker, so that I could also envision the overall picture. I have worked hard to develop a more Global perspective and it this point I can see both the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of a project. Having the initial knowledge that I needed to improve on an area led to me becoming more balanced in my thinking and better able to move forward.

Another great thing about getting to know yourself better is that you automatically become more empathic towards others and much more aware of other people’s tendencies and the reasons for their behavior. When teams are able to work really well together they can achieve great things, but there can be challenges when co-workers have different styles of working and vastly different communication styles.

Self-awareness leading to personal growth, as well as enhancing team work, indicates it is an important area of knowledge that can have a great impact. I heard about the idea of doing your own ‘user manual’ when listening to an episode of the ‘Happier’ Podcast (Happier Podcast episode 191). A listener had written a manual all about herself to share with new team members before they started on a project together. It included her work schedule, communication preferences, work habits, etc. She found this helped create empathy and trust with the team, which led to efficiencies and an all-around better work experience for all. I loved this idea – I have a team of nearly 40 Managers that need to work very closely with each so the idea of having this type of information explicitly detailed for each person seemed incredibly helpful. We developed a ‘User Guide’ template and then met as a large group to go through it and fill it out together. It included things like most productive work times, communication preferences, pet peeves, preferred recognition, biggest motivators and ideal work environment. We also added some specific quizzes, including the Learning Styles Index, the Four Tendencies (Gretchin Rubins framework about how people respond to  outer and inner expectations) and also the 5 Love Languages ( Gary Chapmans relationship theory suggesting there are 5 ways people show and receive love, that can also be applied to work settings).

The development of our User Guides led to a lot of interesting conversations and we certainly found out a lot about our team and made changes as a result. I think that overall it increased our appreciation and understanding of each other’s preferences, strengths and working style. I now have copies of everyone’s User Guide and I can do a quick look to see what someone prefers for recognition or who might want to work on a team project. I also think it is something we can add to down the road. Other helpful quizzes we could add include the DiSC Leadership Style and also identifying everyone’s Enneagram number. I think anything that really assists in someone learning about themselves can be beneficial and I’m sure there are many others that I am not aware of.

I can highly recommend doing something like this for yourself and even better with your whole team.

If you would like a pdf of the User Guide our team used then please shoot me an email at leadingupblog@gmail.com.

Do you think a User’s Guide would be helpful for you and your team? What other tools and quizzes could be to better understand yourself and those you work with?

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