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4 Lenses for Knowing Yourself and Why They Matter to Your Career

“Know thyself” – Ancient Greek aphorism, usually attributed to Socrates

Good career management starts with knowing yourself. We cannot understate the importance of knowing yourself. The more you learn about who you are as a person, the more fulfilled you’ll be able to be professionally. Having a strong sense-of-self is a real asset that can benefit you not only at work, but in all aspects of your life.

At many points in your career path, you may find yourself wondering how to get to know yourself. We’ve all undoubtedly worked with people we feel are clueless about themselves and how others perceive them, right? Four areas are important – a concept you can think of as the VIPs framework. The people that master an understanding of themselves along these four dimensions are destined to be VIPs.

VIPs Framework of Knowing Yourself

1. What are your values? Values reflect what drives you and what’s most important to you in life and work. These include parts of your life like family and faith, as well as attributes like integrity, loyalty, respect, and stability.

2. What are your interests? What gets you up in the morning and what are you passionate about? How do you like to spend your days? If values define how you want to live your life, interests describe what you want to do in life

3. What is your personality, or in the context of your career, your preferred work style? Your personality and work style reflect how you think, feel emotions, plan, handle change, and interact with others.

It’s important to understand what motivates you and what keeps you happy. Next, understand what demotivates you, fills you with dread, or puts you in a funk. You won’t always be able to avoid these latter situations but you should at least understand what your ‘triggers’ are and learn how to manage through them. Understanding your personality type through a personality test can help.

4. What are your strengths? Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. People are skillful in some areas and have development needs in other areas. By understanding what you’re good at, you can steer yourself toward those activities, so that you have the opportunity to really shine.

On the flip side, if there are development needs that are limiting you, you need to recognize them and either work on them or avoid roles or tasks that depend on them.

Your VIPs Profile

The sum of these areas – your VIPs profile – provides a foundation for knowing yourself and should shape how you plan your career at a macro level. This includes the goals you set for yourself, what you do in your daily work, and how you interact with others.

Understand yourself by regularly revisiting key areas of your life. Evaluate your goals, values, and skills every few years so you can adjust to life changes. There will always be some underlying constants – these are what makes you “you” – but there will inherently be changes as well. These will help drive the direction in which you take your career.

Knowing Yourself to Know Your Colleagues

As you better understand yourself, it will become easier for you to better appreciate others for who they are. We are all different. In one sense, that’s an obvious statement, but we also tend to assume others will act and react the same way we do.

Recognize the differences between people - working alone or in groups, leading or in the background, liking consistency or change - to work with their strengths and styles.

How we help. We provide a range of assessments and exercises to help you evaluate your values, interests, personality, and strengths. We also provide mechanisms for you to incorporate external assessments into your PathWise profile, such as if you’re working with one of our coaches or other career experts.

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