Do I really know myself?
How do I identify and address my needs for fulfillment at work and at home?
These all seem to be simple questions with what we believe are simple answers, but is this really the case? From Socrates and Plato to the Indian Vedic tradition and Sun Tzu’s “Art of War,” across cultures and throughout history, many great thinkers have reminded us of a common mantra: “know thyself.”
Yet, too often, with our busy schedules, we forget to make time to “know ourselves” until our manager reminds us that the yearly deadline to review our individual development plan is approaching. At this point, like every year, we strive to make space for this critical topic in our agenda, but business priorities must come first. Thus here we are, at 7:00 PM the day before the deadline, trying to come up with something presentable and at the same time getting frustrated that, yet again, we will not have time to cook a healthy meal for dinner. “My mid-term objective is to be promoted to Senior Director to drive cross-functional leadership to achieve the strategic imperatives of the brand and blah blah blah. This seems about right,” we think to ourselves. “For a businesswoman like me, this is the obvious next step in the game; this is what my manager, my company, and maybe even my acquaintances expect from me.”
Too often, vague ideas around corporate role models drive our development plans without knowing if it is right for us. Societal expectations and norms guide our aspirations and daily decision-making. At the same time, we rarely engage in a true dialogue with ourselves to wonder:
- What is it that I enjoy doing?
- What makes me curious and enthusiastic?
- What have I been doing throughout that day that seemed to pass by in the blink of an eye?
- What was I supposed to do during that meeting when I felt so tempted to multitask or check my Instagram feed?
Thumoe Aung, Business Transformation Program Lead at BD (Becton Dickinson and Company), has a clear vision of the value of self-assessment in unlocking our Power Within. His three-session program of the same name, hosted by the HBA Suisse Romande chapter, kicked off in January 2022 and was completed in June.
What is the "Power Within" program about?
It first sets the scene by aligning participants on the value of being true to oneself and on the benefits this principle can create in any daily decision-making process (from choosing a car to planning the next career move). This works by identifying what drives you or drains your energy reservoir. The next series of working sessions delve deeper into this simple idea to identify Top 20 “blockers” or “boosters” to this process and how to embrace these elements in your daily life and make them work for you and your objectives.
What are the outcomes?
We asked HBA members what they got out of the “Power Within” program concretely. Feedback spans from simple tips for day-to-day life to broader considerations about career paths all wrapped up in a simple tool and approach. One remarkable finding is the depth of insights you can reach by knowing yourself.
“When asked what I like, I know I like working with Excel,” says Annette, HBA Suisse Romande Co-Director at Large, Marketing and Communications. “But Excel is just the superficial tool highlighting a deeper core value, a prerogative I need in my everyday life to feel fulfilled — I need structure, and order to get things done.”
“Good sleep, being surrounded by positive people, and having a sense of purpose” are three positive drivers for Elena, HBA Suisse Romande Director at Large, Programming.
True, we cannot travel back in time to implore our younger selves to spend a bit more time knowing what is within us before choosing our Bachelors, our Masters, or maybe our first internship or job experience. However, we are the captains of our development paths. Nobody but ourselves will be there to lament over or be content with what we accomplished with the time we were given when we switch off our laptops at the end of another workday. When we evaluate our performance at the end of another year, and when close our work computer for the last time before retiring.
This is why, according to Thumoe, much of the work is around recognizing fear and moving ahead regardless. Even if we might think we are in pretty good command of our career path, fear sneaks up on us without us realizing it. Think about how many times you have said one of the following statements:
- I’ve always wanted to leave my corporate job and start an independent activity, but I don’t have an MBA, so I’m not qualified for it.
- I am not a good fit for this role because it is too senior.
- I could never manage a team because I am an introvert by nature.
These types of statements often represent our fear of talking. We do not need to be perfect, and we do not need to have all the stars aligned; we just need to “get to it.” Fear often takes the form of the image we give to other people and the need to live up to their expectations: “What would they think if I changed my career path altogether? Will they think less of me if a colleague from the other department gets the promotion I was going for?” Here again, gaining perspective against fear is key. If we think about it for a moment, we quickly realize that everyone is caught up in their own battles and personal development efforts to care enough to judge our failures or successes – we are often the hardest on ourselves.
Once you erase cumbersome negative thoughts and promote positive experiences in your everyday life, your personal definition of success is there for you to seize and enjoy.
Join us in 2023 for the next iteration of the program.