The other day, I happened to run into an old colleague. It must had been over 20 years. Let’s not bring up that 20 years is a long time and people have a tendency to look different. The good thing was we did recognize each other by name! So, we must have not changed that much (well, maybe some). Normally, the conversations are how are you doing, what are you doing and so on. We did all that. What was pretty good was my old colleague shared with me something that I did well back 20 years ago. He shared with me a discussion that the two of us had that was around personal growth. He told me, that that one discussion help shape his career and how he looked at himself moving forward. I was feeling pretty good.
I did have to ask him to help me understand better about our discussion. No jokes about 20 years and many “other” discussion had happened. I know all that. But, if this one really did help shape his career, I wanted to know the points that most helped him. He shared with me the bolded:
- Understanding your abilities: Getting feedback to the following questions. “What are my greatest strengths?” “What can you count on me to do?” Powerful questions to help you see what other people see in yourself. We all like to think we know, but is it that people see and feel?
- Look at your Blind Spots: Armed with what other people see and your own perceptions, you can answer a couple of more questions. “What have I done to get in my own way?” “Do my strengths get in my way?” Looking internally is critical and being critical of yourself will only make you stronger. I know from experience that this is a tough area. You have to be willing to answer these questions, objectively.
- Understand your environment: There are many situations that happen in our work environments. Ask a couple of more questions. “In what circumstances do I do my best work?” “What conditions lead me to struggle more?” Understanding what helps bring the best and worst out in you, can help you make sure that you are operating in the right sweet spot. If you are faced with one of the conditions that you struggle in, you can prepare better.
After we met and talked, I felt like this was pretty good stuff to share. I know from past experiences that I have had this discussion many times before. I just don’t think that I put it in this way. If you want to grow personally or professionally, you have to start looking at what others see. Then look inward and be critical of yourself. Lastly, understanding your environment, can really put everything in the right direction. For my old colleague, he left that place of employment a very long time ago. He found that the environment was not right for him. So, he found something that fit him better. But, he never lost sight of going personally and professionally.