Photo: Flickr/Sarah Horrigan

How do you know what you want if you don’t know who you are?

As an experiment, I asked several friends this week, “what do you stand for?” It was surprising how hard it was for some people to answer. I am better positioned now to answer this question than I ever was, but I still haven’t entirely figured it out. However, if I am truly honest with myself and you, saying what I stand for isn’t enough.

According to Brandeis University professor, Andy Molinsky, “No one likes to admit weaknesses, but just as you look for the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) in a business deal, use that same rubric on yourself. Where are your blind spots? What do you struggle with? Be honest.”

This exercise is harder than it may seem. Many may be tempted to say they stand for (among other things) excellence in what you do, dedication to your profession, working hard or staying on top of things — and that’s great. But, if you have the ability to see yourself differently and with curiosity, confidence in yourself, and stretch — your answers may be different.

So, here it goes world, this is my SWOT:

  • Strengths — Curiosity, candor, constant improvement, transparency, and empowerment/ coaching.
  • Weaknesses — Transparency — sometimes I am too honest, establishing boundaries, taking things personally, making assumptions, and talking too much.
“Just because something is true, doesn’t mean you have to say it.”
-Ankarino Lara, Founder of Thismoment
  • Opportunities — Give more, be more open to possibilities, go off the straight and narrow path and take more risks in life, do not take things personally, be consistent, to listen more attentively, and practice brevity.
  • Threats — Life goes fast, and if I do not take some risks now, some opportunities will pass me by.

Opportunities come from openness and awareness of strengths, weaknesses, and threats. It is good to play to your strengths, but even better if you can partner with others to maximize your potential.

Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.
-Jeff Bezos

Are you willing to invest a few hours in doing this exercise for yourself? Your company? Let’s discuss below.

The post and opinions included are my own and don’t represent my employer’s (IBM) positions, strategies or opinions.