Remember your last feedback? We do. While the good comments about amazing analytical skills and great communication have already washed away – that little sentence about emotional intelligence, underdeveloped technical skills or whatever it may be usually stays pretty clear in our memory.
There are always things that fall short next to big strengths – some of them should be worked on as they are essential for any type of career. Communication skills are one example: you’re not likely to find an organisation where you’re not in contact with others. Other weaknesses, like learning how to handle a certain type of program might be less important (obviously depending on your career).
In our current feedback culture, we are focused on working on our weaknesses – when we really all know that you cannot be good at everything. Instead, we should think about focusing on working on our strengths and unique abilities! While we all remember criticism, praise motivates us so much more to perform better and expand our strengths. It is so much more fun to get better at something you’re already good at than to try to reach average on something that is really hard for you.
The “Reflected Best Self” (RBS) technique allows you to tap into your personal strength to increase your future potential. The RBS exercise is not designed to pad your ego. It does demand time and diligence AND repetition in order to pay off!
STEP 1: Get relevant feedback
Ask a diverse group of current and former co-workers, family members or friends for positive feedback. Ask them to elaborate on a specific instance where you made a difference in written form. While it may feel a bit awkward to ask purely for positive feedback, remember that this is not about how great you are but actually about improving yourself.
STEP 2: Find patterns
Drill down the feedback and try to find common points and patterns. What kind of situations did people talk about? What exactly was your contribution? You might be surprised that people recognise things that seem completely natural to you.
STEP 3: Paint the picture
Write a description of yourself (or get more creative?!) using the feedback. You do not have to create a complete profile but try to create something that will help you remind yourself of your abilities. When writing your portrait, think about your strengths and use sentences like “When I am at my best…”. Overall, this will be a portrait of the best version of you – something to aspire to.
STEP 4: Redesign your world
The third step should give you a good idea of what to aspire to and what kind of circumstances you need to be your personal best. Now it’s time to integrate this into your daily life. This could mean a small change in the way you work, a different approach to challenges, or involving a different set of people.
So while you will probably always remember all your faults – focusing on your strengths is a better way to improve your performance and stand out. It is not about being good enough, it is about being excellent and extraordinary.
The Reflected Best tool is a copyrighted instrument of the Regents University Michigan – buy the original here.