Personal Mastery Year in Review – 2014

images-1First off I want to thank you for following my blog! I am grateful for your feedback and willingness to listen to my musings around the concepts of personal mastery. This will be my final post for 2014 so I thought it would be fitting to take a snap shot of what I’ve written to help reinforce and deepen our understanding and hopefully our learning!

keep-calm-and-begin-with-the-end-in-mind-6We Begun With the End in Mind – We used Dr. Stephen Covey’s Habit 2 to envision ourselves at our own funeral. (A wee bit of a morbid start to a blog but what better way to kick start some real change in our lives! 🙂 ) What did our family and friends say about us? What were our accomplishments and contributions? If we didn’t like what we envisioned now is the time to make changes – heck while we’re still alive and kicking! We also reviewed our personal values and wrote a purpose statement. If your purpose statement isn’t feeling right…maybe it’s time to tweak it. I tweak mine every January to make sure that it still provides me intrinsic motivation.

images-1We experienced the Power of Forgiveness – Forgiveness doesn’t justify the hurt or remove another person’s wrong doing but it allows us to come to terms with it so we can get on with our lives. Forgiveness is about changing our life, so we may heal and have more peace and happiness. We are only human and we’ve made mistakes; we need to also forgive ourselves! There is a growing body of research regarding forgiveness that when we can forgive we are happier, more empathetic, and hopeful. When we make a habit to forgive we are more likely to have higher self-esteem, more friends, longer marriages, and fewer stress-related health issues.

personality_traits_list_personalityWe got to Know Our Personality – knowing ourselves is how the Personal Mastery journey begins. We took a short Myers/Briggs assessment that gave us an acronym to help clarify our personality. This is very important because our personality is part of our “why.” When we understand our why, we can be more authentic and happier. Knowing our personality helps us to comprehend our deep-seated thoughts and unconscious processes. When we know this information, we can understand how we show up to others, how we interact, parent, work, and love. WOW!

limiting-beliefs-211x300We reviewed Limiting Beliefs – All of us have battled limiting beliefs in our lives, some have threatened to derail our personal or professional success. These beliefs typically start in our youth and sometimes as we age remain with us and cause us heartache and/or fear. It is important to understand what those beliefs are so that we can assess the deep-seated perspectives that are limiting our potential. “The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds.”William James

images-2We Discovered Our Strengths – Society doesn’t teach us to focus on our unique and individual strengths. Instead it tells us to work hard on our weaknesses so we can turn them into strengths. No longer will we spend our energies in repairing flaws that others have determined; we will focus instead on our natural strengths. Using Gallup’s StrengthsFinder we can understand our top five signature strengths and put a plan of action to lean on our strengths for our sustained success. “If human beings are perceived as potentials rather than problems, as possessing strengths instead of weaknesses, as unlimited rather than dull and unresponsive, then they thrive and grow in their capabilities.”Author unknown. 

images-2We recognized the power of Loving Ourselves – When we love ourselves we can express ourselves completely to others and enjoy being who we truly are. To love ourselves we need to stop judging so that we can secure a more positive sense of who we are. In other words, we need to practice self-acceptance. To become more self-accepting we need to remind ourselves repeatedly, and with ever increasing conviction, that given all of our biased beliefs of ourselves, we’ve done the best we possibly could so far. Self-acceptance and happiness go hand in hand. In fact our level of self-acceptance determines our level of happiness! The more self-acceptance we have, the more happiness we’ll allow ourselves to accept, receive, and enjoy. Self love, self respect, self worth…there is a reason they all start with “self.” You cannot find self in anyone else.

positive-thinkingWe learned the importance of Positive Thinking and WOOP! – By using mental contrasting we can focus on our dreams by visualizing and putting plans in place to identify and understand the root of as well as overcome obstacles that stand in the way of successfully reaching our goals. By using the acronym WOOP we can put plans into place to Wish (identify specifically our wish, dream, or goal), Outcome (picture the best outcome of obtaining our wish/dream/goal), Obstacle (understand what’s in the way of achieving the wish/dream/goal), Plan (using the “if this then that” method to identify obstacles and then create the actions and/or the behaviors needed to overcome them.) “It isn’t enough to sit and dream; we have to take action and make sacrifices. Our dreams may be realizable, but they come down to challenges that require engagement and action.” – Gabriele Oettingen.

images-1We Got it Done through Self Discipline – Successful people are successful because they are disciplined in their actions, thoughts, and words. It isn’t just about having willpower and self-control, its about tackling the wants over needs constant message in our heads. We make difficult choices sometimes when our goals are about to get railroaded, we need to have a long-term over short-term focus. Remember….The price of discipline is always less than the price of regret. Self-discipline is the number one component that creates long-term success. It is also a required ingredient to accomplish any goal.

imagesWe learned about Goals and how to set them. Goals provide focus by creating a vision to what we really want; by envisioning our ideal future, goal setting can help turn that vision into reality. Goals provide the measuring stick to know when we’ve achieved success; they help us to choose what we want in life, where we would like to be in a given time period, and they set the road map on how to get there. Establishing and working towards goals gives us a sense of meaning and clear direction, the benefit to goal achievement is that we control the direction of change in our life not others. “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Henry David Thoreau

imagesWe touched on the importance of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – There is scientific data that demonstrates EQ is more important than IQ when achieving success; EQ is the primary determinant of the quality of our personal and professional relationships. The good news is that unlike IQ, EQ can be learned and enhanced. We can even make radical changes to our emotional reactions and to our lives when we understand what drives our emotional intelligence. We can unlearn ineffective emotional responses and introduce new more effective ways of filtering data received during our interactions with others.

imagesWe chose to be Response-able and Proactive – Being response-able is taking proactive responsibility for our lives. When we are response-able, we choose our responses to situations rather than letting situations overwhelm us. We have the opportunity to do things differently if we choose. Being proactive is a way of thinking and acting. It includes foresight and anticipation of “what if scenarios.” Proactivity uses the lessons of the past to identify the obstacles of the future – when challenges appear, proactive individuals take the bull by the horns and put a plan of action together so a challenge doesn’t become a brick wall roadblock.

images-1Finally we learned about the power of Channel 2 Listening – When we actively listen we engage our brain to connect with others. We obtain a deeper understanding of their views, values, thoughts, and dreams – we tap into our senses and feel, see, smell, and taste what the other person is sharing. Channel 2 listening is the ability to consciously be aware of our own bias’ and judgments, to be present, and to mentally remove distractions around us. Channel 2 listening it is maintaining eye contact, keeping an open mind, and not jumping to conclusions as someone is talking. It is also the ability to maintain a curious mindset so our questions can continue dialogue to understand what the other person is intending to convey.

As we conclude this year, I’m looking forward to the next 52 weeks of personal mastery blog posts. It is my hope that you will continue along this journey with me, by sharing your thoughts and ideas as well. I wish you all well!



Discover Your Strengths!

images-4Our society doesn’t teach us to focus on our unique and individual strengths, instead it tells us to work hard on our weaknesses. When we were children our teachers, and thus our parents, focused on our weaknesses. Most of us were told at one time to read more, practice writing, learn multiplication, don’t daydream, etc…..fill in the missing skill that you were told by your teacher or parent.

We were told that we must work hard and to focus our primary attention to turn a weakness into a strength. We’ve spent our lives trying to repair flaws, while our natural strengths lie dormant and neglected. This madness needs to stop!

Weakness crossed out

I’d like to challenge our life long focus on our weaknesses and shift our focus instead to strengths. When something is a true weakness, even with laser like focus, determination, and hard work, it will never turn into a strength. Yes, we will make improvements to a weakness but it will never become a strength. Why? Because a weakness is not a natural talent.

“Strengths are not activities you’re good at, they’re activities that strengthen you. A strength is an activity that before you’re doing it you look forward to doing it; while you’re doing it, time goes by quickly and you can concentrate; after you’ve done it, it seems to fulfill a need of yours.”                             Marcus Buckingham

Years ago I read a couple of books that helped me to shift my paradigm from a life long focus, and unsuccessful improvements to my weaknesses, to one where I understood, focused on, and practiced my strengths. Both books were co-authored by Marcus Buckingham; the first book is titled: First Break All the Rules – What the World’s Greatest Managers do Differently.  I’m not going to review this book with in this post but for those who are managers or leaders I highly recommend it!

The second book, Now, Discover Your Strengths is based on over two million interviews and 25 years of research to identify the most prevalent of human strengths. The research produced StrengthsFinder which introduces us to 34 dominant themes.

34 Signature Themes

When you purchase the book Now, Discover Your Strengths it comes with an access code to the online StrengthsFinder assessment. The assessment is easy to use and the questions will uncover your top five signature strengths.  The results will also provide you with ideas for action on each of your top five strengths so that you know how to focus on them and to manage around your weaknesses.

By the way, you don’t have to purchase the book to obtain a code. One can be purchased here for only $9.99. However, the book will demonstrate and show you how to leverage your top five strengths for powerful results at three levels: 1) your own development, 2) your success as a leader or manager, and 3) the organization you work for.

“If human beings are perceived as potentials rather than problems, as possessing strengths instead of weaknesses, as unlimited rather than dull and unresponsive, then they thrive and grow in their capabilities.”Author unknown. 


I have suggested to many friends and co-workers to take the StrengthsFinder assessment and every time I hear these types of statements: “Wow!!!! How did they do that? How did they hit the nail on the head with what I like to do and who I am?”  It is almost eery how well the assessment captures your unique natural talents.

So that you get an idea of how the StrenghtFinders assessment can be useful, here are my top five strengths:

  1. Developer – people with this strength recognize and cultivate the potential in others.
  2. Arranger – people with this strength are organized and like to figure out how the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity.
  3. Responsibility – people with this strength take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.
  4. Empathy – people with this strength can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others lives or situations.
  5. Relator – people with this strength enjoy close relationships with others. They develop deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.

“Hide not your talents, they for use were made; for what’s a sundial in the shade?”Benjamin Franklin.