The Real Self: Get a grip on where you are now—your starting place.
a. My Lifeline—This exercise is revealing (see p. 114). Basically, you chronicle your life’s significant events and emotions, highs and lows— like getting a job, graduating, getting fired or divorced—and where you felt at significant points (happiest and saddest). Pay attention to where you struggled and triumphed, as well as to transitions.
b. The authors have you do several new exercises that look back at your lifeline for critical transitions, noting what helped or hindered your progress through those transitions.
c. My Social Identity and Role: Start by describing yourself as if you were a sociologist. What’s your race, language, ethnicity, hobby, political affiliation, birth order and so on. Which social roles do you play—father, brother, sister, mother, social leader, business leader? How have your job, social roles, certain jobs, clubs, organizations affected your social identity?
d. Social Web: The authors suggest a flurry of social identity exercises to better understand yourself [creating a social web of friends, family, social acquaintances, peers, direct reports and bosses; assessing their impacts on your emotions (positive and negative)—which are stressful, are enjoyable, are energy giving or energy draining, and which ones need your attention]. Finally, write a letter “from your heart” to someone special in your life who has helped you and shaped your life—you may or may not send it to them.
e. My Strengths: The authors suggest starting by focusing on what you think your strengths are by completing a simple prompt—“I am a person who….” Now inventory your top strengths and how they make you feel (proud, awkward, etc.). List your top (perhaps 5) strengths that you like and enjoy and that positively energize you. What do others say you’re good at at home and at work and as a leader in all your relationships? What situations do you avoid (whether at home, at work, or in other relationships)? A leadership self study involves basically choosing an array of folks (family and colleagues) and doing a self study 360 (see pages 139-140). As an alternative they suggest going for long walks and earnestly and non-judgmentally asking for feedback from people particularly close to you; inventory your environment for clues about who you are. Finally, prepare your “Personal Balance Sheet.” What are your assets (Distinctive Strengths, Potential Weaknesses and Enduring Dispositions that Support Me) and your Liabilities (Weaknesses—Things you want to Change, Enduring Dispositions that get in your Way)?