By Elsbeth McSorley
Imagine if every person had a special t-shirt that they wore, with a list printed on the front of all the positive things that they’ve been told their entire life. These are qualities and traits that are blatantly clear to most people – things that get them jobs, accepted to college or welcomed into sports teams, sororities, fraternities or organizations. It’s what people say about them and typically a common refrain they’ve heard most of their life. Most people have at least a few qualities that are really strong, and they’re typically very proud of them, as they should be. It’s what makes them, them.
Conversely, there is the back of the t-shirt. What’s written here is another list that’s just as easy for other people to read, but not so much for the wearer. It would take a fairly self-aware person – or an interested person, at least – to know what is written on the back of their special t-shirt. These are the things that everyone around you can clearly articulate as your flaws, weaknesses or areas in need of improvement. The list is just as clearly printed as the one on the front of your t-shirt, but it’s not often read aloud as much as spoken about as you’re walking away.
If the items on the back of our special t-shirt manifest themselves too often or include qualities that could be deemed too egregious, they can keep us from growing as a professional and even as a person. While it’s not likely that these things will ever go away, they should be acknowledged and met with a conscious attempt to be brought under control.
Self-awareness is one of the most important metrics to becoming a great manager or leader, and while it’s important for people to leverage their positive qualities, it’s the stuff on the back of our t-shirt that really needs our attention and care. And before you go off thinking that the back of your t-shirt is blank, you may want to think again. Better yet, you may want to consider some form of self-assessment to help you better identify what’s on the back of your t-shirt and what triggers them. You might be surprised at what you learn, and you may even be able to use what’s on the front of your t-shirt to keep your backside in line.
If you’re interesting in learning more about this concept, register for our upcoming webinar “Front of T-shirt, Back of T-shirt: a Framework for Self-Awareness,” taking place this Friday, May 13 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. We’ll discuss how behavior assessments can help to uncover both sides of your t-shirt, increase your self-awareness, and support your personal and professional growth.