What brings out the best in me? What does my potential best self actually look like and how often do I operate out of this mode? How on earth does this best self mode disappear so quickly sometimes and do I find myself be in non-productive (shadow) mode?
Important questions I hear coaching clients ask often.
As we travel through childhood we do so by leveraging our core strengths and over time organise our character around the ones that are core to our essential nature, the ones that serve us best.
These may be the strengths of “moving towards” others (e.g. sensitivity to the needs of others), the strengths of “moving against” others (e.g. striving for improvement) or the strengths of “moving away” from others (e.g. taking perspective).
As we hone and leverage our core strengths more and more as we mature, it comes to define us. We form our core identity in relationship to them and the use of these strengths give us a sense of security, safety and self-worth.
We tend to become fused with this strength and are no longer aware that this is how we operate and that there are various other ways of operating available to us. We become “subject to it”, we cannot see it and it runs us (on autopilot).
When we use these strengths appropriately it brings out our “Best self”, we perform at our best and make great contributions to others. The problem arises when we allow our sense of self, safety and self-worth be dependent on these strengths. Strengths turn into liabilities, barriers and obstacles and they start limiting us in important ways. Sensitivity to others’ needs for example becomes pleasing others at all cost as not doing so (in our sense of reality) means others won’t like, love and appreciate us. Striving for improvement becomes expecting perfection from ourselves and others as we only feel a sense of self-worth if we achieve the best possible and are better than others. Perspective taking becomes criticising others as we only feel safe and secure when we feel superior and can find the flaws in others’ thinking.
We start overplaying and relying upon them and when our environment, people around us or situations trigger us we react and overplay our strengths rather than pausing, remaining flexible, and responding in a way that delivers the best possible outcome.
Finding the answers to those important questions we asked earlier begins with AWARENESS. Awareness of the core strengths - those core motivators that sit deep in our subconscious and influence our behaviour, thoughts and emotions to such a significant extent. Awareness of what triggers us to go into shadow and what the alternative best self mode looks like when we leverage our strengths appropriately and with flexibility.
As they say; “we cannot manage what we cannot see”.
A tool that my clients (including teams!) have found invaluable in providing this awareness is The Why of You Powered by PRINT®, a breakthrough model of human motivation and behaviour that was developed by The Paul Hertz Group.
The PRINT® The Why of You tool surfaces up, through a 15-minute online survey, a person’s core motivators - a primary and a secondary. The PRINT® report then provides a unique insight into these core motivators, the “anticipated best self” and “potential shadow” as well as the triggers that stimulate shadow behaviour.