The Power of Two: Knowing Yourself is the Beginning of all Wisdom
In prior blogs, we’ve talked about the importance of grounding your career planning on reflecting what has already driven you and engaging in self-exploration to guide your planning. You may have heard Plato’s advice: Know thyself. But did you know what Benjamin Franklin said about it? Franklin once wrote: “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” So, which one of these smart guys is right?
They both are. Plato’s words remind us that we should begin career exploration with a realistic view of who we really are, Ben warns us that actually developing accurate self-knowledge is difficult. But all of us know that guy who tells us he's “really good with people" and has no idea how clueless he really is. It's not surprising that tends of thousands of freshmen start school each fall with no idea of who they are and what they want to do in life."
So, how do get to know ourselves? Self, meet self. Personal reflection is important but needs a foundation. We all over-estimate ourselves. Humorist Garrison Keiller used to tell stories on NPR of a small town called Lake Wobegon: “where everyone thought they were above average.”
Strategies to Improve Self-Evaluation
Strategy 1: Get a Second Opinion
One strategy towards accurate self-evaluation is to get a second opinion. Ask a parent, a teacher, a best friend – what stands out about you? What are you doing when they see you the most engaged and the most passionate? What gets you down? Focus on the activities, have them complete this sentence: “I see you your most natural and the most focused when you are _____.” Their answers aren’t necessarily right, but use them to reflect on the activities you find the most interesting, the most meaningful.
Strategy 2: Use a Career Assessment Tool
A second strategy is to use a career assessment tool to measure your interests and values. Interests are what you enjoy doing (like helping people or solving problems). Values are what you find the most important (like working independently or like being recognized for your accomplishment). It won’t surprise you that at PathwayU® we like structured assessments. Vocational psychologists have spent decades honing them to ensure their accuracy. And, once you take them you are in our database and we can connect you to employers!
However, for present purposes, think about your career assessments as the first step in “know thyself.” If you have access to a career counselor, that’s great! Plan to spend some time going over your results. But, even if you don’t, plan to spend time with your results. Don’t take them as the final answer – think about it as a time when’s it OK to talk to yourself. What in your results makes sense, what do you agree with? What trends do you see in the types of careers that are recommended for you? What surprises you? While this blog is about the power of two – your assessment results and you – getting a third opinion doesn’t hurt.
Yogi Berra once said, “No matter where you go, there you are.” No matter where you came from, here you are. As you take the next steps in your career, doesn’t it make sense to really understand where here is?