This month I am celebrating Black History Month, Valentine’s Day, and self-proclaimed “Self-Love Month.” In order to love who we are, we have to first learn about who that is, then accept what we find and make the most of it. I have found that creating a “Powerful Portfolio” of my personal strengths, preferences, and history of success has been a wonderful resource on my path of self-discovery and achievement. It really gives me a boost when I need it!
In addition to the video above and this blog, I explored this topic in Podcast “037: Powerful Portfolios & Loving Who You Are.” Each of these media depicts and reinforces the theme a little differently. Which ways do you like learning best: reading, watching videos, or listening to podcasts? I find that I can fit in different media types at different times of day- I can listen to podcasts while moving around, watch videos while taking breaks, and read articles when I’m at my computer.
Resume-writing started relatively early for me as a performing artist, and I always kept mine updated with my latest performances, during my MFA program this was also emphasized, as it is very important in academia to keep a dossier of your accomplishments to help in applying for positions, promotion, tenure, grants, etc. I have long enjoyed seeing joyful milestones accumulate in my CV.
But the idea of a “Powerful Portfolio” that I’m talking about today, goes much deeper than the sorts of outward accomplishments that others will be impressed with, and can include personal talents, strengths, values, passions, goals…anything we find inspiring and want to return to when we need a reminder of who we are.
As James Flaherty describes in Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others**, in the coaching relationship, this process of learning about the client is called Assessment, and it is through this process that, “First, the level of the client’s competency is assessed. Second, the coach assesses the structure of interpretation of the client. Finally, the coach takes time to study the array of relationships, projects, and practices that make up the life of the client.” p.43 […] “That is, the coach must have a general sense of the way the client is in and makes sense of the world.” p.44 If this is true of a coaching relationship, it is all the more valuable for our relationship to ourselves, but it can prove challenging to have perspective on our own qualities.
In his book, Launch Your Life, Morgan Rich explains how we can come to know and appreciate our unique qualities and preferences: “Who you are is a combination of how your brain works and what is in your heart and your body. When you Know Yourself, you understand that you are okay just the way you are. You will always continue to expand who you are and what you know, and you get to decide what is best for you and what you care about.” (p. 139)
Rich recommends assembling a tool as you learn about your strengths and preferences: “While you build your Know Yourself, it will be helpful to capture the things you learn about yourself in the Powerful Portfolio part of your Play Huge Notebook. This can be a collection of pictures, words, poems, quotes, music, or whatever else will keep you connected to your Know Yourself and on the path of the Real You.” (p.160)
I love how many forms this can take, as it could be a notebook, file, collage, Pinterest board, audio file, jar… Mine is a binder, with articles, notes, goals, statements of purpose, resume and CV, thank-you notes from students and feedback from clients and colleagues, letters of recommendation, current projects, long-term goals, transcripts, certificates, mission and vision statements, inspiring quotes and music, and more as well as an annual digital (Google Doc & Evernote) running list of accomplishments, as shared in my 2020 End-of-Year Reflection blog.
Rich suggests a few places to start when it comes to learning about your abilities and interests and collecting them in your Powerful Portfolio, including:
- Learning Styles assessments – Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic (p.144-6)
- Multiple Intelligences theory – Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Logical/Mathematical, Linguistic, Musical, Bodily/Kinesthetic, Natural, Spatial… (p.147-9)
- Brain Dominance Tendency – Left and Right (p.149-50),
- Values (p.154, Values Clarification Exercise p.170), and I will link another resource on understanding values below
- Passions (p.155, 171)
- Talents (p.155, 171)
- Rejuvenation or what makes you feel alive (p.156, 171)
I appreciate that Rich acknowledges that there are many many ways to understand ourselves, and helps us prioritize where to start so that we can take action without getting overwhelmed by the options, providing the caveat: “Remember the metrics I have chosen–learning styles, the multiple intelligences, and brain dominance–are ones I have found to be useful and meaningful over my years of working with people. If you have other measures that you find to be congruent with your way of being, then use those […] There are many sophisticated systems that will give you similar, but different, assessments of how you understand the world. I have found that these can be useful at a later stage of the Upward Spiral.” (p.163-4)
The Minimalists’ “How to Understand Your Values” article classifies values into Foundational, Structural, Surface, and Imaginary categories, a distinction I find helpful in understanding their importance to us and role in our lives, as well as for facilitating discussion with loved ones. The MInimalists also provide a free Values Worksheet download to support you in understanding your personal values. I will probably write again about the distinction between our true values (those deeply-held pillars of our identity) and our apparent values that others can observe from the outside and how these may be aligned or drastically different…
This is a journey of personal discovery, and ultimately no one else can tell you what is going to be most important and valuable to you: “You will have to figure out which of these ideas work best for you and which don’t work at all. The whole concept of Know Yourself is that you figure out a way you understand the world so you can powerfully create the life you want.” (p.158)
By way of a brainstorm, other places you may find inspiration to add to your Powerful Portfolio might be:
- Some of those sophisticated tests that Rich mentions include the Meyers-Briggs (MBTI), Strengthsfinder, Enneagram, The Four Tendencies, etc.
- I highly encourage you to add a “Love File” to your Powerful Portfolio, which is a tool I originally learned from colleague Kate Prael while working for Whitman College Admissions. The idea is to collect thank-yous, positive feedback, and nice notes into a file to look at when you need a pick-me-up, renewed energy, and reinforcement that you’re doing a good job and to keep going
- I also enjoy an unofficial Accomplishments List to remind me of my hard work, persistence, and past results, to celebrate achieving intended objectives, mark milestones. It’s nice to have a place to go beyond what is listed in “professional” forums and go ahead and include EVERYTHING I’m proud of and would like to remember when I could use a boost
- It may also be a helpful place to store lists of Needs & Conditions of Satisfaction (for life, relationship, career…)
- Short-, Medium-, and Long-Term Goals and Projects may find a place within the Powerful Portfolio as we look to the future and reflect on our past
- Results Tracking towards objectives & habits get down into the nitty-gritty of daily steps towards those big dreams and goals
I keep my Powerful Portfolio handy to remind me of my strengths, attractive qualities, purpose in life, valuable experiences, notes of appreciation, things that bring me joy, sources of inspiration, the ways I have been strong and learned important lessons in the past, and the dreams and visions I hold for the future. At dark or discouraged times, it can make a big difference!
Do you keep something like a “Powerful Portfolio” to celebrate your strengths and accomplishments, or do you plan to start? Send me a message, or hop over to the A Blythe Coach Facebook Page and tell me about it! ablythecoach.com
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** This blog is not sponsored. Amazon Affiliate links potentially give me a percentage of the purchase price.