On Self-Assessment & Celebration

On Self-Assessment & CelebrationRecently, I had to complete a self-assessment.  I hate self-assessments.  I always discover that I have this weird brain dichotomy, where I somehow think that I’m pretty awesome and yet completely suck at the same time.  So I have to wonder if my self-assessment reads as somewhat schizophrenic to the folks that read it. In any case, filling it out completely depressed me, because all I really remember about the comments I made is how many areas I need to improve.  Bleh.

I have to wonder if I’m not alone, and if this might especially apply to geeks.  I’ve noticed that most geeks have a knack for focusing on the negative.  It’s like they take anything positive as a given, and only focus on the negative aspects of the situation.  (Gee,  no wonder IT & Engineering Departments can be just full of sunshine and light, eh?)

Most of my geeks (when I led geeks) tended to focus on what they did wrong rather than what they did right.  (I have to wonder if our parents’ tendencies to focus on bringing up the B in handwriting rather than celebrating our As in everything else contributed to this.)  Despite these somewhat dour tendencies, as a leader I usually tried to mention and occasionally celebrate the things that went right (if only to preserve departmental sanity sometimes.  Well, my sanity sometimes.  Oh, never mind.).

It strikes me that I would have had a happier weekend if I had treated my self-assessment as an opportunity to celebrate my strengths rather than mourn my weaknesses.  Oh, sure, I undoubtedly have some GIANT blind spots for some of my weaknesses.  But those are probably balanced with some giant blind spots for some of my strengths.  Perhaps I’ll try that next time I have to do a self-assessment and party instead of pout.

Photo courtesy of boxercab.

2 thoughts on “On Self-Assessment & Celebration

  1. I know that dichotomy! I have it too!

    One thing I’ve been noticing is that I tend to compare myself to the aggregate of my friends. And anything I can do, one of my friends can do better. No single friend is better along all axes, but there’s always somebody out of my reach.

    Another way to look at it is that geeks tend to be optimizers, so they focus on the gap between the way things are and the optimum way they could be. This leads to the negative attitude that you mention, as they can see how things could be better. I’m not sure how to fix this, as it’s part of what makes geeks powerful – it’s why they’re always tinkering with systems trying to improve them, or trying to shave 30 seconds off of their commute time by a shortcut.

    But, yes, we sometimes need to be reminded to take the time to celebrate, both personally and as a team.

    1. Hmmmm. I can certainly see how comparing yourself to the aggregate of your friends is an exercise in futility :). However, I’m pretty sure I compare myself to this ideal construct I have in my head of how I’m supposed to be. My ideal construct of myself doesn’t care about housekeeping, so it’s fine that I suck at housekeeping. However, my ideal construct never makes a professional mistake, so if I don’t give perfect answers as a consultant, I’m a failure.

      Actually, the difference between failing at something and being a failure seems to be pretty lost on me, too…

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