What Others Know About You

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“We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.” ~ W.H. Auden

Eleven years ago I met my first Life Coach. It was Jane who saw that my blocks and my direction were closely connected. We worked for some time to rediscover my direction. One early exploratory exercise that Jane invited me to pursue was to ask five people to describe me in short words/phrases.

Some time later I realized the purpose and benefit of this exercise. You see, most of us believe we know ourselves better than anyone else. And to measurable extents, this may be true. Yet when those five people replied with candid feedback, I read and learned of strengths that I did not clearly see or embrace.

There is a lot about us that we don’t notice or acknowledge because it’s simply who we are and how we’ve developed over years and through learning and experience. Yet there are often attributes/personal gifts/qualities that define us as seen (and known) by others!

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There is comfort in knowing how connected you are to your strengths. When confident in/with your personal gifts, you expand the potential by which you can impact others and effect favorable change. If you find yourself resenting what you’re doing or the way you are living, ask yourself if you are utilizing what you believe are your qualities and what others see in and know about you.

Some times tapping into what others know about you (that you don’t fully see) can awaken you to reconnect with a dream, with your heart or perhaps, with a new calling. New self-awareness may even inspire you to let go of what you perceive(d) as a strength, once you’ve adopted an even more valuable virtue(s).

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If the prospect of learning how others see you intrigues, I invite you to consider the exercise I embarked upon eleven years ago. It was revealing and the insight that was shared helped me to consider a new direction (and a more passionate focus!), simply because I sought candid input from people who knew me as well as I believed I knew myself.

Naming your personal gifts is unusual but the more exact the better. It is important in asking for words and phrases (not sentences) from respondents that they be honest, positively and negatively. The preliminary steps:

  1. Choose four people from among immediate family members, a close friend(s), former schoolmate, partner, spouse, colleague, supervisor (past of present). Aim for a mix from among all of these. The fifth source of input is yourself.
  2. Ask each of them (and yourself) to “Describe me as you know me,” “Describe me as you see me,” and/or “Describe me as you remember me.”
  3. Your lists will contain lots of words and phrases. When you have all of them, print (don’t type) them on a table.
  4. If/when you get this far and want to know what follows, let me know; I’ll craft a follow-on post. This involves some time and work. Yet the results can be quite telling. ūüôā

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Credit: Child playing piano / M-IMAGEPHOTOGRAPHY via Getty Images

Of Course I Do

“Integrity is the essence of everything successful.” ~ R. Buckminster Fuller

How often do you pause to review the formal relationship you have with your self? Or between aspects of your self? I’m willing to venture that many of us don’t check in all that often. Why? Because we¬†live our lives on cruise control and don’t create time to intentionally reflect on our own being and thus, our¬†behaviors and actions. I don’t say this in¬†an accusatory fashion; it’s more¬†a personal observation. Feel free to disagree. ūüôā

We frequently talk about, aspire to and/or act upon¬†virtues – the positive traits or qualities deemed¬†to be morally good and thus, valued by most of us. From my view, a cornerstone¬†virtue is integrity, which allows us to live¬†to our fullest potential¬†where we can¬†create our desired outcomes. When we are truly aligned with our life purpose, it is easy to stay committed to our goals and dreams and feel fulfilled. Living a life in integrity is a daily process that helps us accomplish this and it doesn’t end until your life does.

So how do we know if this virtue is a significant part of who we are? What does it mean to be in alignment with integrity? Philosophers have studied and spoken about this for centuries. Simply stated, a few random descriptions:

  • Integrity is sound moral and ethical principles.
  • Being in integrity is¬†openly living those principles.
  • Integrity is more than telling the truth; it is the body and soul of dignity, compassion,¬†honesty and all that is good.
  • Integrity is the foundation, the fabric that keeps everything together.
  • Integrity elevates and builds people, whereas a lack of integrity diminishes one’s self-worth.
  • Integrity is a means by which you create your life by being whole and complete.
  • Being out of integrity is disorder. Being out of integrity is chaos. Being out of integrity is fearful.
  • Integrity is being congruent with your thoughts, words and action – walking your talk. It is saying what you mean and doing what you say. Consistently.

There are many ways in which to strengthen or restore integrity in your life. For your consideration:

  1. Avoid situations where you’ll have a significant conflict of interest. If you’re caught in something that prevents you from making completely honest decisions, get out.
  2. Deliver on your promises. Start (or continue) building a trusting relationship with your self. Become the kind of person who knows why you do things, and doesn’t do things “just because.”
  3. Let go of at least 10 questionable shoulds, coulds, and woulds.
  4. Be the vault. When a friend trusts you with confidential information, lock those secrets away. Nothing erodes a friendship faster than a breach of trust in the secret department.
  5. Think before you act. Before opening your mouth ask yourself: 1) What do I really want? and: 2) Is what I am about to say or do going to get me closer to what I want?
  6. Let go of everything that you know is not good for you.
  7. Choose thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gain. 

I share these thoughts not to “lecture.” Rather,¬†my hope (and whisper) is¬†you’ll recognize that committing¬†to being in integrity¬†heightens¬†clarity about the choices you make while¬†grounding you¬†in¬†confidence. In doing so, you’ll be that much closer to being a whole and complete person.

If that’s what you want.