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How to create your personal shield

Posted on from Q4 Solutions

This is an exercise that will become the bedrock of your career development as you move forward in your quest to become a highly effective leader. To learn more about you, and to put some structure to that process, I want to introduce you to a tool called a personal shield.

Knights and Warriors

The term, I believe comes from the Knights and Warriors of old who would carry their shield to battle with them, as a means of defending themselves against varying forms of enemy attack. Often the shape, style and what it was made of defined the origins of its owner. They were then personalised further with coats of arms and pictures depicting their identity. The way that we are about to use the personal shield is all about discovering and portraying our real identity.

Powerful Results

I too have followed books where suddenly they have asked for my commitment to write things down, and I must confess, I haven’t always done it. I guess that I wasn’t convinced as to the payback, and so instead chose to read on. 

With that confession in mind, I give you my personal assurance that you will derive real value from the personal shield activity that I am about to ask you to participate in. This activity is also a great example of how the most powerful Results, come from the simplest of inputs and ideas.

Step 1

Take a sheet of paper, ideally A4 size and write your name and today’s date at the top.  Then split the page into four sections and title them:

Where have I come from?
Where am I going?
What do I have offer?
What do I need around me?

Step 2

The next step is to prepare to add information to each of these four sections; however, this must be done as bullet-points (as writing prose or sentences put your mind into a different mode of thinking).

For the first title, entitled ‘where have I come from’ please think about four key events or circumstances that have shaped your life at a personal level, and who you are today as a result.

For example, these may be things like:

• I have no brothers or sisters, or
• Brought up in the Highlands of Scotland, far from major towns & cities, or
• Brought up in a large city, or
• Didn’t do well in my O-levels (and A-levels), or
• My mother died when I was 7, or

Please think hard and pick the most relevant examples you are able. Take five or ten minutes to think about these and note them down under your first title.

As no-one else will see your list, unless you choose to share it with them, I would urge you to dig deep and pick out the most deeply personal ones, as these are often the ones that have shaped us most.

Step 3

I want you now to repeat this exercise for the remaining three titles, where am I going, what do I have offer, what do I need around me?

Where am I going?

If ‘where have I come from’ were likened to you looking in the rear view mirror of a car, then this question addresses what you see out of your front windscreen, and is intended to capture your key personal goals, dreams and hopes for your future. This section may well include answers like:

• I want to be financially independent, or
• I want to run my own business, or
• I want to retire before I am 50, or
• I want to be the best parent I can be, or

What do I have to offer?

This section is about thinking about and acknowledging key, and sometimes lesser known skills and traits that you posses and should be using more of both within and outside the workplace.

• I am a great listener, or
• I am good with numbers and forecasts, or
• I am a good team player, or
• I am a great ideas person, or
• I am a good communicator, or

What do I need around me?

Think about what it is that you need around you for you to be at your best, or to be at peak performance. It might be things like:

• I thrive on a strong team ethic, or
• I enjoy privacy to think things through, or
• I work best on my own, or
• I enjoy a fun, humorous environment, or
• I need to be able to trust the people I work with, or

Step 4

Reflecting upon your personal shield

As you look through each section of your shield what do you see, think or feel? Now imagine yourself reciting these bullet points aloud in your head and adding some further words by way of a more detailed explanation.

I want you to formally go through each section of your personal shield reading the bullet points aloud in your head, embellishing further where necessary, and then reflect upon how you feel, what you are thinking and what you see as you look at each section.

Please make a note on the back of this personal shield as to those personal responses at this particular point in time. This is more important a stage than it might first appear, as it formalises those responses.

Most people feel a much greater sense of clarity from completing this activity; with that clarity coming from a newly discovered or newly confirmed sense of identity. 

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