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Who I Have Been- A Self-Assessment Exercise

Alright folks, I’m working on the final chapter in my new book, Launch. I wanted to share a piece with you and a challenge to take a moment for reflection. Ready? Ok, let’s go…

What is it that you want for yourself? A big house on the beach? Billions in stock options? Maybe it’s the approval of all your peers or the recognition of others. It could be that you want to be viewed as the best in your field. The most innovative, the greatest CEO, the ability to retire by age 30. Simply wanting to be remembered. Someone who made a difference in the world. The list goes on.

What we hope to accomplish with our life says a lot about who we are. In fact, it’s arguably two aspects that factor in more than anything else in who we become as individuals. Who I have been and who I hope to become.

“Who I have been” addresses the matter of what has come before, in any given moment. It’s the self-assessment of what has happened to me and how it has affected the choices I’ve made in life thus far. The adapted personality traits I took on in order to survive growing up. The cognitive decision-making skills I developed. The various hobbies and knowledges I acquired over time. The schooling I gained (or chose not to). The jobs I took, the promotions I turned down, the places I moved to. Everything that has led me to the point that I am at right now.

Have you ever stopped to consider the trajectory your life has taken? All of the minute decisions that have brought you to the precipice of now? For some, it’s a fairly regular experience. For others, it might never have occurred to you to take stock of at all.

I would encourage you to spend some time in self-reflection. Stop for a moment and create a timeline in your mind of key events and conversations from the past that shaped who you would become. You may even want to write them down.

Most people find this exercise easiest if you work backward. Key in on life changes and decisions made that put you in the most current situation. Ask yourself why and how. Jot those down (or remember them) and continue working backwards. Over time, you’ll begin to see how every choice and decision, every discussion and experience shaped you- sometimes growing and sometimes chiseling- to turn you into the person you are now. Continue working backwards and try to find even key moments in your childhood. Goals, aspirations, victories, and failures. Who did you want to be? 

Now, jump back to the present. Follow that through thread from your young self to now. I realize there may be some traumatic moments many of us have lived through. There’s pain. There’s sadness. But if you’ve made it this far, there had to have also been moments of hope. Times of triumph. Days where you found the strength to keep pushing through. Can you see how you got to this place? This is the first half of the equation- Who I have been.

From Launch: Becoming a Springboard Leader

I’m curious, friends. What did you learn on this journey? Was this type of self-assessment something you’ve done before or was it a brand new experience? Let me know what you found the answer to be- “who have you been?”

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