Two-minute read: Why I love the ‘Reflected Best Self’ exercise

One of my favorite MSLOC assignments that will continue to be a great coaching tool? The Reflected Best Self.

Participants collect specific examples from people they’ve known personally and professionally, at different points in their lives, about when they were at their best. This isn’t meant to be an ego boost. It’s meant to identify patterns and provide greater insight or help improve in some area.

Here are excerpts from my results, which helped clarify career direction, identify specific skills and reveal areas of improvement:

I purposely requested insight from people who hadn’t provided me with past peer feedback to gain new perspective. What I received was somewhat surprising, in that everyone had similar insights into my qualities – no matter how they were connected to me or when the incidents occurred.

When I am at my best, I am thorough, very organized and a planner: From family visits to Chicago to vacations overseas to working with clients to organizing a digital team, I prefer to map out and develop a well-thought-out plan and process to save time, money and make an experience operate as smoothly as possible. Additionally, I tend to organize planning, both in my professional and personal life, into spreadsheets. It’s a quirk, to be sure, but it helps boost efficiency. People around me joke about my extreme planning, but they quickly realize that it also benefits them.

When I am at my best, I am a natural coach and love to guide people to solutions: It makes me happiest when, after training someone, I see the “lightbulb” go off and they see the benefit. This is even more rewarding if the person had been resistant to change. From one former co-worker: “As we redid our push alert strategy and coached our employees around the new guidelines, when someone sent a push that wasn’t in line with our expectations, you would have the employee walk through their decision-making process and coach them around how to think about the process. It was much more effective than just telling them they did it wrong.” From another co-worker: “You hired one of my dearest friends and colleagues and helped her grow into a strong and inspiring leader. Your belief in her and continuous support allowed her to succeed her boss (you!) when you left your job to learn how to be an even stronger leader.”

When I am at my best, I bring calm or perspective to a variety of situations: It may sound trite, but this exercise made me realize how strong I am — mentally and emotionally — and how I use that to give others cover and bridge differences. Examples from responses included times when I diffused tense training sessions with a conference room of skeptical employees, when I helped friends walk through traumatic life events like divorce and death, that I helped new managers feel protected or this from my sister: “I can think of countless of times when I have had a problem or a frustrating situation, and you have provided clarity or helped me see my circumstances from a healthy perspective. You provide solutions and guidance, while allowing me to come to my own conclusions, confident in my choices.”

The Reflected Best Self could be used by any company, especially to help managers “tap into strengths they may or may not be aware of and so contribute more to their organizations,” write the tool’s authors. It’s certainly worth taking a look at as one possible source of feedback for employees in your organization.