How often do you appraise yourself and take stock? If you don't, how do you know what you do well and what you could do better - or at least recognise in yourself.
Self discovery is not necessarily about long walks, coastal scenes, piano music and seeking out your answers from higher beings. It can be as simple as taking some time on your own, or with friends, peers and if you are feeling super brave, your children perhaps (!) and working through a SWOT analysis.
Primarily known for use in business, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis was thought to have been introduced in the 1960's as a means of doing what it says on the tin; seeking out a project or company's:
strengths - where it wins, what makes it successful and better than the rest.
weaknesses - areas for acknowledgement or improvement, tasks to improve to be more successful
opportunities - from a customer, income generation, growth or diversification perspective and
threats - those pesky side swipes in business that we need to understand to mitigate the impact to the business.
A good SWOT analysis helps businesses to focus resources where they might make most difference, for example if strategy focuses on growth in a particular sector, a SWOT analysis will identify the key elements of thought process for a business model or case for investors.
WHY? Why bother analysing yourself? And how can we do it. One word of warning, you have to be honest so you might want to think of being the most objective version of yourself when you do this. Perhaps not after the few glasses of wine on a Friday night, nor when you are feeling pretty low otherwise when you look back you might wonder why Eeyore the Donkey has completed your self analysis. You want to aim for a level headed, honest appraisal of your skills, traits, personality, areas for development.
I've developed three questions in each of the quadrants of the SWOT to get you started. The ideal is to reflect on all of the areas, using open questions and get as much listed as you can. You can download a copy here.
If you can fine tune your sense of self you start to understand your values, beliefs and traits - helping you to understand others too. Some of us are great at seeing our strengths and playing to them, others of us focus too much on our weaknesses and limiting self talk which prevents us from achieving our potential. Weaknesses - areas for development - points of reflection - curves to turn - however you want to refer to them are useful to have identified. It means we can either work to improve them, or actually acknowledge and learn to live with them, either way, they don't limit us nor do we let them get in our way.
Opportunities for our own development are important to think about. I suspect we can think of lots for our businesses, but will struggle when we think about ourselves. We have to have a strong sense of confidence and self to believe we are entitled to new opportunities - this template could be stuck to the fridge - especially if you have identified areas you want to improve.
Threats for our self development are important to note. Try to think of threats not as the potential masked murderer who lives in your mind from your early memories of Michael Myers who hides out down literally EVERY dark alley you need to go through when you have no other option than to walk through it…, no? Just me?! But threats as in self sabotage, thoughts, traits, beliefs. Time of day and rational thinking can be a threat, and you can mitigate these before you get taken out by your own thoughts. I recently chatted with my 13 year old about GCSE options - it went along the lines of me encouraging him not to make any big decisions first thing in the morning because (and I didn't say it in these words exactly) he is about as reasonable as a grizzly bear with a thorn in his foot who hasn't eaten for three weeks and just found out his lady bear left him for the local stud grizzly.
Of course at 8:00am he totally disagreed with me, how VERY DARE I say he wasn't reasonable, his OWN MOTHER and what on EARTH was I talking about. At 3:30pm, he admitted I might have been right and described how his head just works better at that time of day. Reflection on what might be perceived as a threat on his well being but scarily accurate sense of self awareness under development right there.
Take care of yourself
You HAVE to take or make time for yourself. You need to think about what makes you, you. What makes you tick, what values and beliefs you have and how you apply these into your life - how others perceive you. Make it your practise to revisit regularly - take it to one to one meetings with your manager - stick it on your fridge. Celebrate yourself!