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  • Anna Weltner

How well do you know yourself?

Our theme this month is Know Yourself! Here are some ways to test and expand our self-knowledge, starting with these recommendations from our very own MeaningSphere Guides.


A mature woman's reflection as she sits holding a mirror at a table.
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Many of us spent our formative years soaking up knowledge that was supposed to edify us, make us well-rounded individuals, and support ourselves in the adult world. In school, many of us are faced with a daunting daily survey of knowledge that seems absurd to look back on as an adult: A day you started out in a lab coat at 8am could easily go on to include a halting Spanish presentation and finish, after a short break to rapidly inhale some chicken nuggets, with Oedipus Rex putting out his own eyes. (Then tennis practice, algebra homework, dinner, and bed.) 


Amid this barrage of adult knowledge, there’s precious little time for genuine exploration of the self. We’re left on our own to sort out what motivates us and identify our genuine values, passions, and strengths. Author Marcus Buckingham, a human performance researcher known for his work on the StrengthsFinder system, is intimately familiar with the adult consequences of this missing piece of our education. In Love + Work, he writes, “Sadly, for us, our climb out of school just leads to college and a job, both of which turn out to be built around the same bizarre set of rituals: learning as information transfer, someone else judging our performance, someone else identifying our gaps and telling us to plug those gaps in order to improve our performance rating and so get promoted. The whole procession—from primary school through high school, college, and work—pressures us to separate us from ourselves.”


Psst: You can check out our review of Love + Work  here


As Buckingham knows all too well, many of us don’t take the time to explore who we really are until we are well into adulthood. Sometimes a major life event allows us a sudden, startling glimpse of our true nature. But what if you didn’t have to wait for a crisis, and started deepening your self-knowledge right now?


This was the idea behind a powerful assessment tool called the Meaningful Work Inventory,™ which is now available (in the US only) through MeaningSphere. The Inventory is a self-awareness experience that prompts you to take stock of your worklife by reflecting on and evaluating your current work situation. ⁠We’ll share more on the Inventory, and a full list of this month’s events and free resources, at the end of this piece.



To celebrate this fantastic offering, and because self-reflection is such a powerful yet oft- neglected tool for personal and professional growth, we’ve chosen Know Yourself as this month’s theme. Throughout May, we’ll be sharing a variety of ways to enhance your own self-knowledge and enjoy greater alignment with your purpose—that thing that lights you up inside and makes the time fly by.


To get you started on this journey, we’ve asked our pool of expert Guides for their personal favorite resources on this theme. Enjoy!


A young woman takes a photo of herself in a mirror with a Nikon camera.
Photo credit: Pexels

Recommended reading (and watching) from your MeaningSphere Guides 🔍 


Socrates and Self-Knowledge by Christopher Moore 


“It’s a very interesting and very philosophical approach on self-knowledge. It’s the kind of book you must read slowly, with many pauses for reflection.” 

— Luiz Veloso, The Hague, Netherlands 


Know Yourself: A Book of Questions  by Astrid van der Hulst and Irene Smit 


“An interesting way to get to know yourself is to get out of your comfort zone. Could be going out for dinner on your own, or a weekend on your own to visit a new town that you don’t know yet. It does not really matter what you are going to do, as long as you challenge yourself to go through that tension.


When you make the first move, you will find out it is usually not as difficult as you may have thought. Enjoy and be proud of yourself. You did it.


You can also involve a friend as support. As a kind of steppingstone to start off your adventure in getting to know yourself better.


Another way to get to know yourself is by asking yourself many questions which challenge you to go deeper into yourself. To that end, I can advise this book from the Dutch writer Astrid van der Hulst.”

—Marjan Heitman, The Hague, Netherlands 



The Dash” by Linda Ellis


“One of the most meaningful and relatable artifacts I’ve come across is the poem ‘The Dash’ by Linda Ellis. While the metaphor centers upon the small dash between your birthdate and death date as depicted on a tombstone, it has a big message for our living life. The dates themselves represent only two moments in time, but that little dash represents everything in between. The poem asks its readers to reflect on how they want to live their lives and to make the most of the time they have. 


I believe that a significant part of knowing yourself is knowing your values, strengths, and the impact, big or small, that you hope to have. Knowing yourself and what matters to you is a way to frame your choices, or to make a tough decision while staying true to who you are and who you aspire to be. ‘So, when your eulogy is being read with your life’s action to rehash…would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent YOUR dash?’ 


On a much lighter note, holding true to form with my love for quotations, I also find great inspiration from Dr. Seuss too: 🙂


‘Today you are you that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is your than you.’


‘Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.’


‘Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I will be remembered.’” 

—Sheri Buergey, Lake Zurich, Illinois, United States 

 

A man stands between two mirrors and reaches his arm reaches to take a self portrait, reflected many times.
Photo credit: Pexels


“This TED Talk shows our Self is a construct, a narrative that changes over time, and that we can change for the better.” 

—Lilian Kolker, Utrecht, Netherlands 


 From Strength to Strength by Arthur C. Brooks 


“This book is a very important addition to one’s library. Based on substantial research, the book informs the reader on ways to find greater happiness and meaning as they age and change. Reading through it not only benefits those further along in their careers, but also is valuable for those early-in-career.


To be sure, Steven Covey’s evergreen ‘Seven Principles’ work admonishes folks to ‘avoid single-mindedly climbing the ladder of success only to learn at the top that their ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.’ To that end, the book highlights the hazards to avoid, paths to follow, and remedies to ensure your life and career ladder is leaning against the ‘right’ (most meaningful) wall. Particularly if an individual, like many of us, is a striver tired of striving, this book is particularly valuable.”

—Bob Furlauto, Neshanic Station, New Jersey, United States 


A woman looks at herself in a mirror while siting in a field.
Photo credit: Unsplash

 

Ready for a personalized approach? Try the Meaningful Work Inventory™ and book a free Guided session 🎉 


Previously known as the Meaningful Work Survey, the Inventory is a self-awareness experience backed by years of research. You’ll be asked to respond to 31 thought-provoking statements about your current work situation. It then produces a comprehensive, personalized report based on your responses, empowering you to identify the areas of your professional life that give you the most meaning, find out what’s gaining or draining your energy, and uncover missed opportunities to enjoy more meaning in your workday. 


If you’re looking for someone who can help you through the process of making sense of what you’re learning, we’ve got you covered! We’re currently offering one-to-one sessions with trained Guides who will listen carefully as you work together to uncover possible steps you can take to start experiencing more meaning in your work. Right now, a one-hour guided discussion is free with every purchase of the Meaningful Work Inventory report.  


A young man looks out a window, where his face is reflected.
Photo credit: Unsplash

Craving community? Enjoy free things? Check out our May offerings and events 🎁 


May’s Meaningful Work Calendar is now live!

This free downloadable calendar contains a bite-sized prompt for each weekday on the theme Know Yourself. These daily nuggets are great for as journaling prompts, conversation starters, or simply as fresh daily ideas to consider.


We're also hosting three virtual events this month dedicated to learning more about who we really are! No big deal. 

 

If you’ve never been, Meaning Circles are virtual sessions guided by a host where we reflect on big questions related to meaningful work. This time, we’ll unpack this one: “What can you achieve if you stopped being so hard on yourself, and started showing yourself the same grace that you already show to others? In other words, what if you treated yourself like a friend?” 

 

For many of us, it’s only after we’ve entered the working world that we discover whether our chosen field aligns with our purpose—that thing that lights us up inside. This session is about giving PURPOSE the attention it deserves! 

 

A slim, beautiful book by Stanford professor Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, Experiments in Reflection comprises a series of practical experiments designed to help you “tune in to your environment, train your intuition, and shape the future.” We can’t wait to explore this one with you at our monthly book club! All are welcome. Advance reading not required. 


 

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