To Thine Own Self Be True


The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard Feynman

One of the most important types of knowledge you need to acquire is self-knowledge. Many people get book knowledge or street smarts, but never get to know their own strengths, passions, blind spots and weaknesses. This ignorance results in inferior performance and even complete personal failure. Sadly, when failure occurs, the person often looks back and sees the times when they could have gained self-knowledge and deeply regrets the missed opportunities.

I'm an assessment junkie. Over my thirty years in the military and corporate world, I've taken about every test possible. Myers-Briggs, DISC, Gallup Profile, Gallup StrengthsFinder, 360 degree feedback, corporate assessments, health assessments—you name it, and I have probably taken it. I have discovered whom I work well with, and whom I need to partner with to make up for my weaknesses. I've found out things that I like to do and excel in, and other things that I need to minimize or delegate. The assessments have helped me to become a better person and leader.

We often tend to view others through the lens of our own personality and gravitate toward those who are like us. Being self-aware ensures:

  • You don’t fall into blind spots and gravitate towards people who are like you.
  • You have diverse friends and employees.
  • You are not overly critical of people who aren't like you.

If you are a leader, you should have your team go through an assessment process, and review the composite results. You will likely find that your team lacks strengths in particular areas, and you should consider this with your next hire.

With the easy availability of inexpensive, online assessments, you don't have an excuse when it comes to knowing yourself. Seek self-knowledge, and you will find a surpassing life.

Action Points
• Take advantage of every opportunity to go through an assessment process and learn more about your strengths, weaknesses, interests and abilities.
• Check the results with someone who knows you well, like parents, close friends or your spouse. Ask them to make you aware of when you are displaying strengths, weaknesses or blind spots.
• Use the results of your assessment to change the way you look at others, so you are more understanding.
• Have your team do individual assessments, and then review the composite to determine your team's strengths and weaknesses.

Higher individual and team performance and improved interpersonal relationships.

Excerpted from Chapter 25, To Thine Own Self Be True, of The Surpassing Life: 52 Practical Ways to Achieve Personal Excellence,


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