Ever received or given someone some ‘360’ feedback? If you have, you’ll recognise this… You look through the feedback and whilst trying to be open-minded about the feedback (after all, you’re a grown up), in reality you’re wondering who gave that piece of critical feedback and why? Did you upset them/annoy them/forget their party invite, etc. You can see the pages of positive feedback, but the criticism can rankle and sit somewhere deep in the pit of your stomach, however well facilitated it might be.
Reflected Best Self is easily the most powerful feedback oriented intervention I’ve used in the last few years with clients. Developed by researchers at the University of Michigan (and now used by most of the leading business schools in the US and the UK on their MBA courses), it focuses on when people have seen you operating at your best, with evidential stories.
The specific directions for downloading this exercise from Michigan can be found on the research pages of this blog, but essentially you are asking between 10-20 people (the more diverse the group, the better) for three stories each of when they have seen you working/operating at your very best in their eyes.
I like this exercise for so many reasons (beyond my obvious shortcomings for accepting criticism!). For me, it goes to the very heart of positive psychology. That is, you are already good, already unique and already accomplished. For positive change to occur, it’s a question of understanding and embodying those moments more than changing from the person you are to a different person. Like resolutions, so many personal visions are based on an ‘ought’ self (what i ought/must/should be like) when it is as simple as being at your best as often as possible.
I have seen clients profoundly moved, surprised, inspired and energised by this exercise. The negativity bias (see Week 3) ensures we know what we do wrong – and boy, do we embrace it – but rarely do we see in writing up to 60 examples of what we do right. End January on the most extraordinary note for yourself – send out an email to 20 people (If you’re embarrassed or British, blame it on the blog and say you’re in the middle of a coaching programme...). I promise it will see you through the best and the worst of times.