top of page
Woman Looking Out the Window

As career-oriented individuals, we often set goals and aspirations around working to address our weaknesses to grow and improve as much as we can. This has likely been engrained during early childhood and continues to show up in our daily lives. However, research shows that focusing and capitalizing on our individual strengths has equal power to working on our weaknesses when it comes to personal and professional growth. 

While it's important to set goals in order to improve our weaknesses, we also need tools and resources in order to recognize and maximize our strengths. The Reflected Best Self Exercise™ is a tool that was created to help individuals reflect on their strengths and how they operate when they are themselves. The RBSE was created at the University of Michigan and Harvard Business School, and is a combination of self-reflection and hearing "best self" stories from others in the individual's life. 

In this exercise, an individual selects several individuals from various parts of their life and asks questions along the lines of "When was I at my best?" The responses provided by selected participants in this exercise helps turns themes from "best self" stories into insights that can drive actions in an individual's personal and professional life. Understanding, reflecting, and hearing external perspectives on strengths allows individuals to appreciate what they bring to the table as leaders and people, and can help propel them forward through their life.

As someone who tends to be hard on myself, when I went through the Reflected Best Self Exercise I was reminded of how much value I bring to those around me. My strengths were highlighted in a consistent way by those who participated in this exercise on my behalf, which allowed me to build a clear development and action plan for how I can lean into these strengths and use them to help me continue to grow.

Similarly, as a coach I believe this exercise is beneficial to use with individuals who tend to be self-critical. They may know their "weaknesses" quite well, but aren't used to hearing about their strengths. Conversely, while this exercise can be useful in many coaching engagements, I might avoid using it if a client isn't opening up about the areas that they would like to improve in. Overall, there is very little downside to helping individuals see their "best self" through the eyes of their colleagues, friends, and family, and this tool can help break through barriers and build increased awareness of strengths and confidence. 

Reference: ​

Roberts, L. M., Spreitzer, G., Dutton, J., Quinn, R., Heaphy, E., & Barker, B. (2005). How to Play to Your Strengths. Harvard Business Review.

bottom of page