Do you ever struggle to describe some facet of who you are?
A concise explanation of what drives you, how you process information, or any other aspect of yourself enables you to impart that to others quickly.
Six questions and five steps of analyzing their answers are all you need to create a succinct description of any aspect of yourself.
This crisp summary allows you to help those around you work with you effectively.
Questions for others
Others experience you in a way you never can experience yourself.
So, start by asking three to five people you trust these three questions:
- When have you experienced me being true to myself? What stories come to mind?
- When have you experienced me being untrue to myself? What stories come to mind?
- What five words would you use to describe me?
Questions for yourself
Others can relate your impact on them.
Only you, however, know your true story.
So, ask yourself these three questions—and remember to enlist your mind, body, and heart in answering them:
- When have I felt most myself? What stories come to mind?
- When have I felt most not myself? What stories come to mind?
- What five words would I use to describe myself?
Adjust the questions as appropriate
Customize these six questions to the particular part of yourself you are trying to describe.
For example, if you wish to illuminate how you absorb information, “When have you experienced me being true to myself?” might become “When have you experienced me absorbing information easily?”
Now you have a plethora of words that describe yourself.
Turn those into a short, succinct description with these five steps.
Remember to engage your mind, body, and heart as equal partners throughout this process.
Wherever I use the term “words,” feel free to use images, melodies, or any other forms of representation that work better for you.
Similarly, the “lists” in this process can be stacks of stickies, mindmaps, or any other forms of recording and gathering data that work for you.
All that matters is that you can highlight individual “words” and arrange them into “lists.”
Step 1: Identify the significant words
Go through each answer you received for each question.
Highlight every word that feels important.
Don’t worry about why a word feels pivotal.
Don’t try to rationalize your way through deciding which words to select.
Instead, simply recognize which words stand out for you.
You’re engaging your mind, body, and heart to do this, right?
Use their guidance.
Step 2: Group the significant words
Now, copy each word you highlighted to a new list.
Then, split that list into groups of words that feel like they go together.
Don’t worry about why they feel like they go together.
Don’t try to rationalize a common thread between them.
Instead, simply recognize that they seem to have a common theme.
You’re still working with your mind, body, and heart as you do this, yes?
Step 3: Summarize each group
Next, ask your mind, body, and heart to offer up a few words to summarize each group.
They might want to do this individually. Or, they might prefer to work together. Or, two might work together while the other has its own ideas.
Any approach that works, well, works.
Tag each group with the words they suggest.
Step 4: Experiment with synonyms
Now, copy each of the summary words to a new list. Make each of the words a separate item on the list.
Next to each term, add 3–5 synonyms that suggest themselves. (I love Word Hippo for this!)
Then, ask your mind, body, and heart whether the original or one of the synonyms fits best.
Highlight the one they choose.
Step 5: Create your succinct description
Copy each word you highlighted in the previous step to a new list.
Rearrange the words until they feel to be in about the proper order.
Then, add any words necessary to convert that list into a sentence.
Listen to what your mind, body, and heart have to say.
Iterate until you have something that feels good enough.
Just six questions and five steps
Anytime you need to describe some part of who you are, use these six questions and this process.
All it takes is a little input from a few trusted people and yourself. Always, of course, including your mind, body, and heart.
You will quickly develop the succinct description you need.