University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources

How Well Do You Know Yourself?

By Donna M. Bennett, M.A., L.P., Center for Organizational Effectiveness

On January 29, 2007, Keri Miller, host of Minnesota Public Radio's Mid-Morning show and the station's Leadership Series, interviewed Darlyne Bailey, the new dean of the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development. Ms. Miller opened the interview by introducing Dean Bailey as follows:

"Dean Bailey has interesting ideas about what tomorrow's truly effective leaders will be like. She thinks they will be people who will rise to the top because they know as much about themselves as they do about widgets the company makes."

Dean Bailey's ideas prompted the title for this article: How Well Do You Know Yourself? This may sound like an obvious question. You know your gender, your age, your physical characteristics, your roles, where you live and work, your political and religious beliefs, etc. These are all parts of who you are. Your personality, your skills, your passions, your interests, and your values are also parts of who you are. Are you as familiar with the latter as the former? Most of us are not. In my 20 years of career counseling, I have heard a common cry from people of all ages: "I don't know what I want to be when I grow up!"

Whether you want to be a leader, find a new job or career path, or just want to be happier at work, learning to know yourself well is a proactive way to seek and discover greater satisfaction.

A good place to start is by identifying your most important values. And even if you think you know what they are, you may find that they have changed. Our values differ at different life stages. Fill out this two-page values checklist (pdf) to give you a head start on getting to know yourself. You may be surprised with your results!