What’s Your Greatest Achievement?

The other day I was asked in an interview what my greatest achievement was – a tough question! My mind raced, starting at professional achievements I didn’t really feel deserved the title ”greatest achievement”. Yes, I’ve done great stuff on a professional level, got to work with exceptional talents for some of the biggest and most popular brands on the planet, but I believe a great achievement defines you in some way. And above all it’s something to be proud of, something you feel good talking about and sharing with others.

Here is my answer:

My greatest achievement so far is learning to take care of myself first so that I can be of better service to my customers, clients and the people I get to interact and collaborate with on a daily basis.

So in the end I opted for something that did have to do with my professional life and was impacted by what I learned both on a professional and personal level. And it did take me a couple of years to come to this learning! To me, it breaks down into 4 points that are very important when it comes to taking care of yourself first and how to do that in a work environment.

1. Know Your Why

It took me some time and quite a number of steps in my career, but I finally understood what made me happy at work. It was making the people I work with successful! While everyone finds meaning in different things (which is great, because otherwise we’d all be doing the same thing!), meaning to me is being able to bring my strengths to work, doing work that I enjoy, working with people and being inspired by those I work with.
However, that doesn’t mean that everything’s perfect every day and that shouldn’t be the goal! It still means that I get the occasional customer who gives me a hard time or the occasional colleague that I don’t enjoy working with as much. But what I’ve learned is that if you know you why, why you do the work you do, you’re able to better handle situations like this when they arise. So when faced with a challenging customer, I take a step back, take a deep breath and remind myself why I’m doing this. I want to make the people I work with successful. And that sometimes means handling situations with kindness and compassion even though I don’t feel like it. Reminding myself of that helps me to stay true to my purpose every single day, making me successful, happy and more relaxed.

2. Learn About Your Strengths

Understanding where your own strengths are goes a long way in picking a position that is right for you. It also helps you craft those parts of your work that drain more energy when you know exactly what drains you batteries and what kind of flow activities fill them up. And once you know what you’re good at, what comes easy and what gives you energy, instead of draining it, have a talk with your manager in terms of how you can use this to be more successful and happier in your job.
There are many different Strengths Finders out there and I’ve had the privilege to do a couple of them on a professional and learnt a lot in the process.
Here they are so you may consider doing them as well:

Gallup CliftonStrengths
It isn’t until people know what makes them talented and unique that they know how to perform better in their job. Or how to find one that’s a better fit. And to build better relationships and be a better teammate. And to feel like they’re improving, every single day.

Insights Discovery Profile
By using Insights Discovery to increase self-awareness, we help people perform at their highest level. We promote effective relationships at work, by improving communication, decreasing conflict, and leaving more time to get the job done.
The Insights Discovery methodology uses a simple and memorable four colour model to help people understand their style, their strengths and the value they bring to the team. We call these the colour energies, and it’s the unique mix of Fiery Red, Sunshine Yellow, Earth Green and Cool Blue energies, which determines how and why people behave the way they do.

5 Dynamics
5 Dynamics helps your employees mesh into happier, more productive teams, thereby maximizing strengths, streamlining projects and increasing engagement. It’s a way of optimizing work, improving interactions with colleagues and clients, applying one’s talents and strengths to the maximum.

The 9 Belbin Team Roles
Belbin have identified nine different clusters of behaviour that are displayed in the workplace. These are called the nine Belbin Team Roles. Research showed that the most successful teams were made up of a diverse mix of behaviours; they had access to all nine Belbin Team Roles. This doesn’t mean that every team requires nine people! Most people will have two or three Team Roles that they are most comfortable with.

Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies
In a nutshell, it distinguishes how people tend to respond to expectations: outer expectations (a deadline, a “request” from a sweetheart) and inner expectations (write a novel in your free time, keep a New Year’s resolution). Your response to expectations may sound slightly obscure, but it turns out to be very, very important.

  • Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations (I’m an Upholder, 100%)
  • Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense–essentially, they make all expectations into inner expectations
  • Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves
  • Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike

3. Change ‘obligation’ to ‘choice’

Making others happy and working for their success (which is in turn success and happiness for me!) means giving a lot of myself. May that be on a professional or personal level. When I was younger, I thought that this giving and taking business always had to be balanced and I felt wronged and used for a long time, because I thought I was only giving, getting nothing in return and that wasn’t fair! So giving felt bad. Only when I realized that giving in itself is the thing that brings me joy, did I learn to let go of this inner block and free myself of the burden of feeling used. I turned my inner No to a Yes and I stopped acting out of obligation. I made this a conscious choice instead. And you can apply this to many situations! When you say Yes to something that you actually want to say No to, then you carry that inner No around with you and it won’t let you go. When you however, know your why, it’s easier to let go of that inner No and embrace your purpose and your choices with a full-hearted Yes. Make your work a choice instead of an obligation. Choose to be great at it, choose to have fun and choose happiness over those daily frustrations that we all encounter once in a while!

4. Manage your time!

Letting go of your internal No also opens you up to saying Yes more often. So, I urge you to be mindful about how you manage your time on a daily basis.
Whatever you say yes to in your life also means that you have to say no to something else. And that goes for both your work and personal life. So consider your options and make the most of the time that you have available, which also means that you need to learn to say No when you truly do not want to do something or it crosses a line for you. Set healthy boundaries, such as, for instance, not checking your work emails once you leave the office. Use this time to spend with yourself, people that you love or do something you adore doing, yet don’t have the time to do during your work day. You will be that much more energized, recharged and happier for it, able to give 100% at work the next day.
I myself can get very caught up in my work, because I do enjoy it. But being offline, being with yourself and the people you love is so important to be able to keep up that good work that you like to provide. And even though it might feel weird taking care of yourself it when you don’t feel drained – believe me, when you come to the point of burnout it’ll be that much more difficult to find you way back.
So start today, start now. Take care of yourself!

Your turn:

What’s your greatest achievement either professionally or personlly? I’d love to hear about it!
And what do you think is, in addition to what I have mentioned here, is important when learning to take care of yourself?

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