I have spent a lot of this summer teaching workshops to individuals who are looking for their next job. Some are in a position of a job loss, others are looking for a new role. In either situation, my first question to them is, tell me about you. Inevitably, I am met with stares and looks of ‘I don’t know’. I begin by then asking deeper questions to help them begin to describe themselves to me. I can then help formulate the words into context that is relevant to them.
In my opinion this is the MOST critical part of professional development, including job search. It’s also the foundation in my executive coaching practice as well. Self-awareness and knowing oneself is at the heart of all we do both professionally and personally. I have spent years reflecting on my own awareness and to this day I continue learning its intricacies. It helps me share with my clients how I can help them and/or my strengths, it allows me to have deeper conversations with loved ones about my needs, it shapes who I am as a woman, wife, mother, daughter, and friend. I am able to be clear with what they should or should not expect from me. It also has been very helpful when starting a new job, getting a new boss or moving up the ladder.
Knowing not only who you are but what you do well is important to do work that is meaningful and exciting to you. I vividly remember years ago working in a corporate job. Our business unit had changed objectives and teams were being formed to support our new goals. Our Vice President at the time told me she was putting me in an analytical role because she felt I would a great fit into developing reports for the leaders on our team. At first I walked away mystified as to why she would think that because I HATE building reports. I even hated reading reports unless they were the high level versions that could be read in a few minute. After thinking about this for a few days I asked for a meeting with her. When I walked into her office I took a seat and told her, developing reports is not my strength. I don’t enjoy it thus I am not sure I am the best person for this new role. She asked what I was good at. My years of practicing my own development allowed me to tell her clearly what I was great at doing, what my passions were and how I really felt I could support leaders on this new team. To say I was elated when she agreed with me and changed the focus on my role, is an understatement. Think of how unhappy I would have been had I not said anything. Instead I started off immediately doing work I loved and made a positive impact to the entire team. All because I knew myself. Deeply.
This is one of thousands of examples from myself and those I work with that demonstrate the power of self-awareness.
As you embark on your professional development journey, don’t rush through self-reflection and awareness. It lays the groundwork for all there is to follow. And remember, you are the expert on you. Take the time to think through the following:
- Who you are (your brand)
- What you are known for or how others describe you.
- What you love to do
- What you don’t enjoy
Jot your answers down, practice saying it out loud or whatever you need to do so you are armed and ready when the time is right.
To your growth, development and amazing potential,
Professional Development Coach