I’ve been following Gary Vaynerchuk for the past couple of months, I like his practical ideas and his “get sh*t done” attitude. After downloading many hours of his YouTube videos, I felt like I should actually purchase something from his arsenal, so I took advantage of a Udemy course that he was delivering “Building a Personal Brand”.

I’ve made it through the entire course once, but it is so dense in material and ideas, it will take a couple more passes for me to really digest what Gary has to offer. However, one exercise in the course did stick out for me, and I wanted to share a little self-discovery.

Gary believes that self-awareness is your greatest asset and that most people fool themselves about who they really are and what they are good at.  His exercise for clarity involves asking 5-10 people who know you well, in various contexts, to list 5 strengths and 5 weaknesses. You can do this either in person or via email, whatever works best for you.

I did it via email and asked 8 people from my life, some who know me professionally, some more personally, but I felt all would be honest and provide insights.  Predictably, my most responsible friends and family made the fastest responses, however, several really struggled, and felt uncomfortable providing any negative feedback. I hadn’t really considered that this would be a problem, but I realized that while I am always open to providing my own critical feedback to others, other people aren’t as comfortable with that dialogue.

So the feedback itself? Interesting. Some positive themes emerged, such as my strong organizational skills, my ability to communicate in an articulate manner and my project-oriented focus.  And some negative themes emerged as well, primarily my perfectionism, personal rigidity and need to control my environment.

But what I realized, is the feedback was highly subjective, based upon how the person had experienced me and what they personally held of value.  So it was good feedback in understanding that individual,  and how we interact together, however I realized that I am a different person based upon the context and the relationship and so universal themes weren’t that available.

What I also came to realize was that often the perceived weaknesses were actually decisions that I make about what I want to experience in my life. For example, a weakness I was offered was that I take on alot of different projects, tasks and work, overcommiting myself. This could be true, especially when viewed from the outside, but for me, it is empowering, engaging and interesting to juggle many different topics and projects. I get bored quickly and I like to have something new to focus on, learn about or create.  It would be a weakness if I never completed anything, but since I have a strong project-completion drive, for the most part, if I don’t complete something, it is because I decided not to, that after beginning I realized it wasn’t for me.

So strengths and weaknesses? I am not sure if that is as valuable an inventory to take as recognizing subjectivity and perception and working through those lenses with your own clarity and self-awareness of your why.