In the previous part of this series about my year of personal discovery, I talked about going back to think about who you were as a child and the things to which you were naturally drawn. This exercise is an important part of identifying your gifts and passions in life. The next exercise I created for myself is something called “Describe me in three words.”
The exercise itself is as simple as it sounds. What are the first three words that pop into your head when you try to describe yourself? Honestly, mine were “Dan and Phil.” Funny but not helpful except for the fact that this reaction to the question did help me identify the three words I would use to describe myself. I chose these three words: SMART, WEIRD, INTROVERTED.
In addition, I thought it would be important to identify gifts I might not see in myself. So, I posted a request on Facebook for my friends to describe me in three words. I didn’t tell them why I needed the words or what I was going to do with them, and I was pleasantly surprised. The most common words related to my being smart or educated. Holding four college degrees will convince people that you are smart. Also, it is clear that intelligence is one of my gifts.
Here is a graphic illustrating the other words my friends used to describe me. The larger the word is, the greater number of times that word appeared in the list. You can make a similar word art design with Wordle.
My friends do agree that I am weird, but they must like that characteristic because they use words like quirky and funny rather than weird, psychotic, or insane. I was not surprised by the words driven and strong appearing frequently on the list. I would not have accomplished many of the demanding and difficult goals I set for myself if that were not true. Those characteristics seem a little weak now because I don’t have a big goal in sight, but it is good to remember that I have what it takes to make the impossible a possibility.
Do you want to know my biggest surprise? So many people mentioned words like kind and beautiful to describe me. I would never use those words to describe myself, but this exercise forced me to reflect on those two words. As much as I might like to say that I am mean and could resemble an ogre (think Fiona from Shrek), perhaps that description is not entirely accurate. When I really think about it, I see how I am kind in many small ways throughout my day. Kindness is also what motivates me to want to share my gifts with others.
I’d love for you to work through this exercise too and let me know what you learn. Are there ways that others see you differently than you see yourself?