Defining Your Strengths, The University of Michigan Center For Positive Organization:

Reflected Best Self Exercise (RBSE):

Most processes for defining one’s unique strengths center on developing stories about events when you did your best, found things easy to learn/accomplish, and generated the most personal satisfaction. There at least two obstacles to this approach:

    • Reflection and introspection is tough work, so tough that many of us put it off, can’t get started, or fail to follow through to the end.
    • Self-perceptions are limited and feedback from International MBA students is that we often take our skills for granted or assume “that everyone can do that” and not give ourselves credit for our unique nesses

A useful variation is a process developed at The University of Michigan Center For Positive Organization. Start with a blank sheet of paper and rather than your reflection and perception of your talents, ask others to provide you stories of when they observed you behaving at your Personal Best. Then from these stories mine your unique strengths.

The Center for Coaching & Mentoring fully endorses this process, what follows is an overview for you to evaluate your comfort level and commitment. If this is for you go to and enroll in one of the multiple choices to benefit from this experience.

The Goal: To distill out the five to eight strengths from Greatest Strength and examples provided by significant people in your life.

The Process:

  • Identify 10 people in your life who know you well and have seen you perform in various venues—peers, friends, family members, managers, coaches, clergy, significant others, customers or anyone who has had extended contact with you. A diverse group is desirable; critical is that they will give you an honest opinion.
  • Compose a feedback form and request their input via regular or e-mail.

Sample Feedback Form:

I am evaluating my unique strengths by asking people who know me to share their observations about me at my personal best. I am asking for your observations because I value your opinion.

Think about those times, or an incident when you felt my behavior was an example of what
I do best. If it is easier to think in terms of grades, a time you would have given me an “A+” for what I was doing.

Please respond to the following statement with three different incidents. “When I have seen you at your very best, here are the unique strengths you have displayed.” Please provide examples so I can understand the situation and the characteristics you are describing.

Fill in this form with as much detail as you can remember:

One of your greatest strengths is:

For example, I think of the time that:

One of your greatest strengths is:

For example, I think of the time that:

One of your greatest strengths is:

For example, I think of the time that:

Thank you very much in advance for your feedback. Please e-mail me your responses by _______ (insert a date). Also indicate if you would like to hear what I learned from all the responses I receive. ___ yes.

Distill your strength

The RBSE offers a number of choices to distill your unique strengths and move forward with a career that maximizes the utilization of your uniqueness.