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Archive for the Category "Personal Development"

Enough with the mind reading: get a 360 feedback! Nov 02

I find that a whole lot of people worry about how others perceive them. They worry, and that’s it. They don’t do anything to actually get a realistic view on the matter. At best, they just try to guess it, they try to mind read it and every once in a while, they ask a person they feel comfortable with what she thinks about them.

If what others think about you is something that’s on your mind, do yourself and your personal development a favor, and do something effective about it: get a proper 360 degrees feedback (aka 360).

A 360 is an assessment of your person, from multiple sources. It is usually given by supervisors, peers and subordinates. Clients, suppliers can also chip in, and even friends or family if you wanna get a perspective beyond you professional life.

I used a 360 degrees feedback for myself repeatedly and I often use it with clients. The fact that it is structured and rich in information makes the results very meaningful. You won’t find out perfectly how everybody sees you, but it’s certainty a lot more scientific than guessing.

I think there are 3 main things you can do with the information you gain from a 360 degrees feedback, other than just wondering why people think you’re selfish when you buy everybody Christmas presents:

  1. Discover the traits you project with ease in any situation and use this for personal branding.
  2. Discover the traits you repress, you hide from others, and use this for becoming more expressive.
  3. Discover your strengths and weaknesses you may not have been aware of, and use this for personal development.

Knowing about the tool is one thing. Using it effectively is another. Here are my top tips for making the most out of a 360:

  • Use a standardized questionnaire for everyone that gives you feedback;
  • Ask specific questions and use very clear phrasing;
  • Ask for feedback from people that know you and care about you;
  • Allow the option of anonymous feedback to help people be more honest;
  • Get feedback from at least 10 people to have representative results;
  • Remember that how others see you is not necessarily how you are.
  • Remember it’s just a feedback, not a flawless evaluation tool.

Getting a 360 degrees feedback takes some effort and most importantly, some courage. Most of us are not used to asking others for clear and specific feedback about ourselves. Asking for it is a statement that we are vulnerable to their perception and it’s a request for something some find risky to give: honest evaluations. Expect this to take you and them out of your comfort zones, and embrace it.

If you’re interested in a specific 360 degrees feedback tool, I recommend 360°Reach by William Arruda. It’s an online assessment that’s well designed, easy to use for personal development or branding, and you can try it free of charge for 15 days. So, enjoy it!

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Sometimes forgiveness isn’t the answer Oct 27

This guy I know, he has a habit of making fun of other people he knows in various social contexts (parties, discussions, meetings etc.). My theory is he does this mostly to attract attention and show off. A while later, he will be talking to the person he made brutal fun of and saying: “I hope you didn’t take my jokes seriously. I was just having some fun. I’m sorry if they affected you!

This is his way of asking for forgiveness, which almost always works. I know that forgiveness is seen across the globe as a virtue, but I think there are cases in which it’s a weakness people can use to manipulate you. This is one of those cases.

Forgiveness is a complicated and slippery word. Its exact meaning is hard to pin down. What does a person mean exactly when she is asking forgiveness? Is it just an emotional thing? The way I see it, she is actually asking for 3 things, the last 2 things being a bit more subtle. She is asking that:

  • You don’t feel bad or angry at her for what she did;
  • You don’t form a negative perception about her for what she did;
  • You don’t change your behavior towards her in a negative way.

The first part, I think it’s a good idea. Whenever someone does something towards you that you don’t like, get over it emotionally as fast as possible. Not for that person, but for you. The other two, well, that’s where I have a problem with forgiveness.

When the guy I was talking about asks for forgiveness, he is actually saying “Don’t’ feel bad”, but he is also saying “Don’t think of me as a mean person” and “Don’t stop being my friend or helping me, just because I made fun of you repeatedly”. Doesn’t it sound like an arrogant, selfish and absurd request when you put it this way?

People fall into this trap every day. Because we are taught that if a person is really sorry for something she did, she apologizes and seems to be hurting, then we owe her as decent human beings to forgive her (according to the definition of forgiveness presented above).

We don’t. Talking in terms of equity, it is natural and effective to change your perception about a person’s character depending on her consistent behavior patterns, as well as your own behavior towards her. It’s how things go with mature, responsible people.

Asking forgiveness is often just a way for a person to not assume true responsibility for her behavior and its consequences.

My advice: whenever a person repeatedly asks forgiveness from you for a repeated behavior, give her just the first part of forgiveness. And tell her that. Let her know that you got over they way she acted, but it does influence your perception of her and your behavior towards her. And if she doesn’t like that, let her give some forgiveness.

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Self-improvement is masturbation Oct 09

In one of my favorite movies (Fight Club), at one point, Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt) says: “Self-improvement is masturbation”. You have to see the scene and the movie to get the full meaning of this line, but even if you haven’t, you get the idea…

This quote sticks in my head like glue. Here’s the thing: I do believe in personal development and improving constantly as a person. Hell, I make a living out of it! But, I also believe that a lot of the people who are into personal development have a skewed vision about it and an ineffective approach.

Some of my best friends are into personal development and I really appreciate them for that. But at the same time, some of the people who are into personal development simply weird me out. These people read a lot of books on personal development, they go to trainings, they quote Dale Carnegie, Michael Jordan or somebody in almost any conversation. And there is this strange, negative energy about them.

Here’s why: they come into personal development from a place of not accepting themselves. They believe they are bad because they have weaknesses (big or small, plenty or a couple), because they are imperfect. They have no concept of self-worth as people beyond their strengths and weaknesses.

Coming from this place, a lot of personal development lovers feel very uncomfortable with whom they are and they project that all around: in the way they walk, they talk, they behave. You feel the need to stay away from them or you’ll catch whatever they have. This is the negative energy I’m talking about.

I wanna make it as clear as possible: wanting to improve because you cannot accept yourself, even if you have major weaknesses, is in my perspective a very, very bad motivation for self-improvement. Here are some of the major reasons:

  • It makes personal development a hard, frustrating journey to somewhere;
  • It makes you look for shortcuts and magic solutions for their transformation, which rarely work;
  • It makes you try to change a lot of things at once, it makes personal development disorganized and ineffective;
  • Very often, even if you’ll improve a lot, you still won’t like yourself or be happy.

It’s very important that first, before anything else, you learn to accept yourself as you are. It doesn’t mean you don’t wanna improve anymore; it only means that you realize you have an intrinsic value as a human being and that imperfection is actually very natural.

Only after you accept yourself and become comfortable in your own skin, do you move on to improving yourself, one step at a time. Think of accepting the status quo as the first major step in changing it. This, to me, is mature, effective personal development.

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The Gestalt prayer Oct 03

I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.
If not, it can’t be helped.

- Fritz Perls, 1969

My way of saying… party time!

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