The Traditionalist Generation – Still Killin’ It!

What do Jack Welch, Helen Mirren, Robert De Niro, Mick Jagger, Tom Brokaw and Martha Stewart all have in common? They are members of the Traditionalist Generation born between 1925 – 1945 and they are still working… and still killin’ it! In this post you will learn to marvelous contributions Traditionalists continue to  make in society and your well being. After you read it, call you mom and your gramma!

Traditionalist = Tough Times, Sacrifice, and Hard Work

The Traditionalist Generation—also known as the Veterans, the Silent Generation, and the Greatest Generation—is comprised of men and women born between 1922 and 1945. This group not only survived the Great Depression of 1930, but they also brought us out of WWII and helped make the United States a world power. Patriotism, teamwork, sacrifice, “doing more with less,” and task-orientation very much define this generation. Rules of order, respect for authority, and following directions are all important touch points for Traditionalist.

When it comes to technology, this generation has to adapt. The only entertainment they grew up with were the voices coming out of a box—the radio. They were raised sitting around a radio with their family, listening to spellbinding stories, like “The Shadow,” “Dick Tracy,” “Lux Radio Hour,” and “Our Miss Brooks,” which filled their evenings with suspense and entertainment. When you think about the wonder of those times, it was their minds that created the pictures they heard from the voices on the radio. There were no MTVs or video games—maybe that is where the genius of Walt Disney was nourished. Although Disney was born before the Traditionalists in 1901, he was still part of an era that relied on their own imaginations for entertainment.

Traditionalists Words of Wisdom

They were also raised listening to their parents spouting proverbs that centered around, work, patience, and delayed gratification. These proverbs were a part of the Traditionalist’s DNA, and they quoted them often to their own children.

How many of you remember hearing these adages?

·      A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

·      A penny saved is a penny earned.

·      A stitch in time saves nine.

·      Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.

·      Don’t judge a book by its cover.

·      Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

·      If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

·      If the shoe fits, wear it.

·      Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

·      People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

·      Practice makes perfect.

·      Save for a rainy day.

·      The early bird catches the worm.

·      The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence

·      The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

·      Waste not, want not.

·      What goes around, comes around.

·      Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

·      You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.

A Peek into the Traditionalist Workplace

If you think about it, the country had just left WWII, which was won by the U.S. entrance into the conflict, and this “military way of doing things” trickled into the workplace. The traditional take on organizational structure in a business back then was very military-like and hierarchical, with power flowing vertically and upward, and employees were departmentalized. All employees follow a chain of command. For instance, the CEO has final say on operations in all divisions, but each department has a manager who runs day-to-day operations and ultimately reports to the CEO. Just like the military, every soldier answers to his commanding officer, while the president of the United States is at the top of the chain as commander-in-chief. This is what the workplace resembled during the Traditionalist era.

If you want to see just what it was like working in America in the 1950s, I suggest you rent “Madmen” and watch the first season. The early 1950s were a time where conformity ruled, and women and minorities did not share spaces with “the men.” TV shows of that era portrayed the loving and dutiful wife, a.k.a. June Cleaver, at home cooking and cleaning, and happily greeting her hard-working husband when he returned in the evening. Shows such as “Donna Reed,” “Father Knows Best,” and “Leave It to Beaver” were the rage. The workplace was a man’s world filled with rules: defined office work hours, face-time meetings, and obligations. Work was the first and primary interest of all those employed—the boss ruled and the worker was committed to work first and family second.

If you really think about it, this style of management has been a part of the U.S. workforce for many years. The Boomers tweaked it, Gen X tried to change it—and got angry—but really it’s the Millennials who actually have blown it up!

NASA, Medicine, and Equality

The Traditionalist generation spawned the first true innovators. They were responsible for developing NASA, which has led to today’s space program. Back in the 1950s, NASA chose seven men (astronauts) who would fly on the Mercury spacecraft and called these men the “Mercury Seven.” John Glenn, one of them, was the first American to orbit the earth in 1962.

Traditionalists also created vaccines for many diseases including polio, tuberculosis, tetanus, and whooping cough, laying the foundation for today’s technological environment.

This generation was the first to pursue equality through the Civil Rights Movement that began in the mid 50s with protests against racial segregation and discrimination. The movement began by attempting to tear down the inherent discrimination in public facilities that segregated blacks from whites. As the movement expanded, their struggle for freedom and reform extended to economic, political, and cultural arenas. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister, lead the Civil Rights Movement from the mid 1950s until his assassination in 1968.

Good-bye to Traditions

Traditionalists may be the last generation to help pass on the individual family traditions. Growing up, my sisters and I loved our family traditions. Coming from an Italian family background, we knew that every Sunday we would have either homemade lasagna or tortellini or, maybe, rigatoni, and always meatballs. At Christmas, my mom made tins of homemade cookies, breads, and our favorite almond biscotti. My mom loved special family dinners and set a fancy table with the family china, crystal, and silver.

Every Thanksgiving we counted on Mom to make the stuffing recipe exactly the same—and we would get really upset if she added anything extra like mushrooms or sausages. My dad would carve the turkey with the special knife reserved for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Regrettably, as time has marched on, many of our family traditions have gone by the wayside.

When Baby Boomers (1946–1964) began to develop their lifestyles, families changed. Their children, Gen X (1965–1984), share memories of holidays described as a “happy blur” with a “working mom” doing some frenzied cooking and cleaning, along with the dreaded car trips from one relative’s house to the next. If the relatives all lived in the same city, Thanksgiving could possibly be two or three huge meals packed into one day.

When Gen X moved out of the house (college, job, marriage) many continued these traditions by traveling home and spending a few days or a week at the parents’ home from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day. Movies such as National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Home for the Holidays (1995), and Four Christmases (2008) capture well those hectic years.

When Gen X married, another “holiday issue” was set into play: deciding which family gets them, followed by the travel arrangements and subsequent tight sleeping quarters. Many X’ers admit that they would break their parents’ hearts if they didn’t come home for Christmas. But, the question is how do they decide on which family to go to?

After the grandchildren arrive on the scene, numerous X’ers and now Millennials often decide to forgo many of their past traditions and begin their own, but admit they still call Grandma and get all the delicious family recipes.

If your grandparents are still with you, take time to ask them to share ideas and traditions with your family and try to keep some of those important customs alive.

If you have some time over the weekend watch one of these classic Traditionalist movies!

Casablanca , Citizen Kane, Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, North by Northwest, Rear Window , Grapes of Wrath, Unbroken Vertigo, Some Like it Hot The Philadelphia Story, From Here to Eternity, have fun!

Understanding the Boomers and their Contribution

I started speaking on Generations in the Workplace, to corporations and associations  back in 2000, when the Baby Boomers were in the heights of their careers and businesses. Back then, Boomers were the leaders in most organizations. Today, it’s a different story.  Boomers have either retired or are facing retirement in the next few years. Since the Boomers have left their mark on America and our ways of doing business I decided to write this post giving you a peek into “The Why” Boomers are Boomers and the impact they have made in our lives.

Boomer’s Photo by: RMPhoto.com

Who is the The Baby Boomer?  Born 1946–1964

The name “baby boomer” refers to the tremendous spike in births when WWII came to an end. In fact, the birth of the boomers signaled the end of 16 years of depression and war. But now as peace and prosperity returned, America was ready for a new start.

The post-war era brought not only babies, but also a new confidence in the economy. Corporations began to grow larger and more profitable, and labor unions were in their heyday promising higher wages, benefits, and a brighter future for their members. Parents of this new generation wanted to give their children so many of the opportunities and things they did not have in their own childhoods.

Boomer’s Lifestyle Changes and the Women’s Movement

One of the first lifestyle changes after the war was the birth of “the burbs.” Visionary developers bought land on the outskirts of the cities and built mass-produced homes (tract homes) on the land. Low-interest rates through the G.I. Bill for vets tempted many city dwellers to move out to the burbs, while others just wanted to leave the city life and raise their families in a safer environment.

Although the flight from cities to suburbs was great for family life, many women felt isolated and trapped away from their city lifestyle. Another point to remember is that during the war some 350,000 women served in the U.S. Armed Forces, both at home and abroad. More than 310,000 women worked in the U.S. aircraft industry in 1943, representing 65 percent of the industry’s total workforce (compared to just one percent in the pre-war years). Rosie the Riveter symbolized the new-found strength of the working woman during the war years.

However, in the 1950s, a shift in thinking was on the rise, and women were told to go back into the home where their most important job was to bear and rear children, along with being a good wife who knew how to cook and keep a tidy home. For some women, this shift in lifestyle and values generated a huge dissatisfaction, and the women’s liberation movement began contributing to the feminist movement of the 1960s.

Television, Credit Cards, and Consumerism

The post-war economy was able to raise the standard of living for many families. Moving from apartment living to a home with a “family room” required more furniture! A new concept in buying with a credit card was born, and people began purchasing on credit products of the revved up economy: televisions, hi-fi systems, new cars, and clothing. Consumerism wasn’t just for the adults as marketers begin to realize there were huge profits to be made from the boomer babies too. They began to watch the habits of the newest generation, who were now watching TV and, in particular, Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club. Boomer children begged their parents to buy them mouse-ears, Davey Crocket hats, hula hoops, Frisbees, and lots of other toys now being advertised on TV. The boomer child had buying power! Looking back on this new affluent spending may have been the precursor to the boomers’ philosophy of spend-now-and-worry-later lifestyle.

Boomers and the  Counter-Culture of the Sixties

The first boomers entered their teens and said so long to Elvis and hello to the Beatles, Stones, and the Dave Clark 5. Bob Dylan sang “The Times They Are A-Changin’” as civil unrest exploded with the Vietnam War, and many baby boomers began to gravitate to a counterculture. Rejecting the status quo, student activism appeared on many college campuses. Young adults became activists protesting civil rights and the war. Other boomers dropped out completely and they were called hippies. The hippie arrived on the scene with their long hair, Birkenstocks, tie-dye clothing, peace signs, and hallucinogenic drugs.

Living the American Dream Requires “Work, Work and More Work”

When the oldest boomers entered the workforce in the late ’60s and early ’70s, they brought with them their vision of the American Dream, a competitive nature, a strong need to be seen as an individual, and a new style of leadership. They replaced their predecessors’ “my way or the highway” style with a more democratic consensus of leadership and teamwork.

Their dream was challenged early on. The 1970–1980 decade was filled with uncertainty in the U.S. workforce. The U.S. was moving from a manufacturing economy to a service economy, and the transition involved downsizings, mergers, and reorganizations. Attitudes towards work and the employer were changing. As the uncertainty grew, some boomers felt betrayed, but they continued to work longer and harder. Boomers have felt they are hardwired for work. As boomers have aged, they also have admitted that they have stayed in jobs that had no growth or future, but still continued to work hard calling their work a “badge of honor.”

In 1991, we signed the North American Tread Agreement, and many U.S. manufacturing companies moved to Mexico and overseas. The look and feel of work was changing and many boomers moved into management.

Today, the oldest baby boomers are already in their 70s. By 2030, about one in five Americans will be older than 65, and some experts believe that the aging of the population will place a strain on social welfare systems.

Bill Clinton was the first baby boomer to serve as president, followed by George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. Baby boomers have risen to the highest levels of corporations and elected offices. Their time is now fading into the golden years of retirement, but they have left an enduring mark on our society. One has to be proud of being included in this remarkable generation.

Today, the oldest baby boomers are already in their 70s. By 2030, about one in five Americans will be older than 65, and some experts believe that the aging of the population will place a strain on social welfare systems.

Bill Clinton was the first baby boomer to serve as president, followed by George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. Baby boomers have risen to the highest levels of corporations and elected offices. Their time is now fading into the golden years of retirement, but they have left an enduring mark on our society. One has to be proud of being included in this remarkable generation.

Generation-X: Time to Pass the Torch

A few weeks ago I was on a conference call with the committee  that selected me to be their opening speaker at their annual conference.  My topic: Bridging the Generation Gap – Passing the Torch! They shared with me that their leadership team comprised of mostly Baby Boomers were close to retirement.  It was time for Generation-X  to take over the leadership reigns and the Boomers were worried- the X’ers were excited!  Gen X ‘s leadership style and their perceptions are very different from the Boomers and the legacy they leave behind will change the world forever. To get a better understanding of the Gen X psyche, let’s go back and discover what makes them tick.

Gen X: There Will Never Be Another!

As with most generational labels, “Generation X” is a somewhat negative term, coined by Douglas Coupland, author of the 1991 book Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. For Coupland, the letter “X” was meant to signify the generation’s random, ambiguous, and contradictory ways.

Generation Xers were the children born during a time of shifting social and family values, a challenging economy, and advances in technology in the U.S.

Boomers, who were also called the “Me Generation,” were deep into self-actualizing, and their focus seemed to be less on their children and more on themselves and their careers.

Looking Back

Gen X kids grew up in harder times than the Boomers. Between 1979 and 1995, some 43 million jobs were lost through corporate downsizing. Newly created jobs paid less and offered fewer benefits, and stagflation appeared. In economics, stagflation happens when the inflation rate is high, the economic growth rate slows, and unemployment remains steadily high.

Many families needed more than one income to survive and women reentered the workforce to provide the extra income. The challenges in the American economy combined with other social changes, including the Pill, feminism, increased levels of education among women and men, revolutionized the American family.

A new trend was occurring: American couples began to marry later, have fewer children, and divorce more frequently. In 1973, when “the Pill” went on the market, most Americans lived in nuclear-style families. The average married couple had three to four children, and mothers stayed home and tended to the family. By 2000, the average family had shrunk to two children (that’s why this generation is so small), and one out of two marriages was ending in divorce. Almost a third of American children were being raised by a single parent or an unmarried couple—further contributing to profound changes in family dynamics.

Freedom! Growing Up in the 70’s and 80’s

Freedom! Well sort of … kids had lots of freedom back in the 70s and 80s. They played outside! They had wheels—their bikes—and they got to roam and ride all day until the streetlights came on at night. More than likely, this childhood freedom will never happen again. Helicopter parents have entered the building!

The term “Latchkey Kids,” a name created by Boomers, referred to children who came home from school to an empty house because mom was working. The kids of this era were given a great deal of responsibility and a list of chores was often left on the kitchen table to be completed before mom got home: empty the dishwasher, plug in the crock pot, do your homework, and help your brother and sister with theirs, fill the ice cube trays, set the table, and don’t make a mess. The responsible Xer did get many of the items on the list done, but only after hours of watching MTV, listening to the radio, and making mixed-tapes to share with their friends.

Now let’s pause for a moment. If you were born between 1964 and 1979 and your mom did not work and you did not have lots of independence, you may be more like a Boomer than a Gen Xer. The same goes for Boomers, no matter what your age, if your mom worked and you were left alone to be independent and more personally responsible, you may relate more to Gen X.

Let’s go back to the growing-up years of Gen X and reflect on them. Parents and even teachers did not coddle this generation along with the Boomers. Gen X saw first hand that their parents were human and fallible, and they often found themselves giving their parents advice and comfort. Autonomy and self-reliance, rather than respect for authority, were natural byproducts of the Generation X childhood.

Looking back at this generation, it’s easy to see that Gen X could possibly be the last generation of children and teens to grow up with freedom, independence, and the luxury to try different things on their own, fail, and try again.

Gen X: Skeptical and Cynical – Reality Bites

Xers grew up seeing lost children on milk cartons and taking their Halloween candy to the hospital to get it x-rayed because a neighbor may have slipped a razor blade or pins into their Milk Duds. They watched TV when a frying pan came on the screen and heard a voice announce, “This is your brain,” and then an egg was cracked into a pan with the voice explaining, “This is your brain on drugs!”

They also grew up in an era when many of the sacred institutions (churches, schools, government) fell apart or let them down. Gen Xers saw corporations like Enron and WorldCom crumble, leaving their employees with empty pension funds. They watched in real time as the doomed Challenger exploded, and as Heisman winner O.J. was crouched in the back of his white Bronco while his friend drove it down a Los Angeles freeway. Here are the dates for the memorable events that squelched their ability to blindly trust and also added to their skeptical nature:

1972 – Watergate Scandal

1973 – Energy Crisis and Long Gas Lines

1979 – Three Mile Island Meltdown

1980s – Priest, Politician, and Teacher Scandals

1986 – Challenger Disaster

1990s – Corporate Layoffs (parents laid off)

1992 – Rodney King Beating / Police Brutality

1995 – Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal

2001 – Enron / Tyco Corporate Scandal

                             “Never confuse having a career with having a life,”

                                         Eddie Bauer Shopping bag slogan. 

Can We Have a Little Balance?

Generation X entered the workforce when the Boomers were in their prime, and early on there were not many areas for this generation to flourish—except, of course, in technology!

Because many Gen Xers learned independence early in life, this attribute turned out to be a valuable trait and Xers progressed in their work and in the world. As writer Mary Donohue proudly writes in her article in the Huffington Post, “Gen X is your bread and butter. They have worked through more recessions than their parents or grandparents ever did. Most often they are executive leaders who are on the cusp of becoming the C-class, but aren’t thriving in the workplace. The closer these workers get to 55 the more their knowledge becomes invaluable to your organization and to your customers. They are your intellectual capital.”

Because many Gen Xers had early contact with the “real world,” they are highly self-reliant and positioned to take on leadership in all organizations—corporate, non-profit, and community. As a whole they are serious about meeting commitments, have a strong sense of purpose, and are highly resilient. Gen X is the generation who wants options/choices since they don’t want to be cornered into just one and only one single way of doing something. They are innovative, creative, and insightful. These qualities position them for great leadership in an era of disruptive thinking. Gen X values new ideas and “out of the box” thinking.

As leaders today, they must help organizations become more collaborative. They must continue to ask great questions and get others excited and engaged in work and projects. They must embrace complexity and continue to seek new answers and new disruptions. And they must keep up their need for authenticity, purpose, and mission in the workplace and world.

Is There a Little Generation X in YOU?

As a Generations in the Workplace speaker the most asked question is, “How did they come up with the dates that define a generation?” Wikipedia states that A generation is “all of the people born and living at about the same time, regarded collectively. The Center for Generational Kinetics tells us  that.a generation is a group of people born around the same time and raised around the same place. People in this “birth cohort” exhibit similar characteristics, preferences, and values over their lifetimes.

When I present keynotes on the Generations in workplace, and give the dates that each generation falls into,  many come up and say that they do not fit- they are more like a ______. I tell audiences that there are other factors that contribute to your generation. Let’s look at  GenX- If you were born between 1965 and 1979 and your mom did not work and you did not have lots of independence, you may be more like a Boomer(1946-1964)  than a Gen Xer (1965-1980). The same goes for Boomers or Millennials (1981-2000), no matter what your age, if your mom worked and you were left alone to be independent and more personally responsible, you may relate more to Gen X.

SO…Take the Quiz and see how much Gen X is in you.  The more you say YES.. the more you are like Gen X than your generation!

Is There a Little Gen X in You?

1.  My life defines me and my work is a means to an end, consequently “I work to live.”

2.  I am a self-starter, and I am willing to work hard when I see that it’s necessary, but don’t interrupt me when I am focused.

3. I am a saver $$$$$ and I save for the future.

4.  I enjoy doing DYI projects in my free time.

5.  I use social media to engage with my friends, and I value their reviews and suggestions.

6.  I find that I would rather work on my own, where I want, and when I want—telecommunications work.

7.  I have been known to be direct and even abrupt, and I can’t tolerate BS.

8.  I keep my personal life separate from my work life when possible.

9.  I admit I am a little overprotective of my kids and accepting of the term “helicopter parent.”

10.  I value my friends and their opinions many times over that of my parents.(sorry Mom)

Think Like a Millennial? Take the Quiz

I Started speaking on the generations back in 2005 when the Millennials were starting to show up and make some noise in the workplace. It was a great fit because I felt I had an understanding of young people. You see,  before becoming a speaker I owned retail fashion stores in Houston. Hiring many young employees with no workplace experience was typical,  and I often discovered that  they had the potential become great employees. My early years in retail and retail management set the foundation for my peaking platform.

As you may have guessed, I am a not a Millennial – I am a Baby Boomer, but I am discovering that I think and, yes, at times, act like a Millennial despite all the negative comments and sterotyping. They have been described as entitled, narcissistic, and spoiled—and let’s not forget lazy. But, throughout my work and research, I have discovered the opposite is true. Just as Gen Xers have turned out to be other than their name implies, the Millennials that I encounter are ambitious, smart, energetic, creative, and have truly inspired me to do better work.

As we continue to hear the negative comments about this generation, I want to know how many of you Xers and Boomers out there are secretly saying, “Yes, Millennials—go for it!” with the hope that the changes they represent will trickle down into your workplace and life?

For a few moments, forget about the year you were born and the descriptive behavioral characteristics of Millennials. Look and see if any of the items on the list below resonate with you…

Maybe it’s possible that you, too, are more like a Millennial than you think!

True or False

1. You are not content with the status quo. You are always thinking of how things can be better. You are curious, and open to new ideas.

2. You embrace change and see change as an opportunity to grow.

3. You use technology to engage with others.

4. Technology increases your productivity.

5. You are not fond of long hours behind a desk when the work can be done anywhere. You prefer a flexible work schedule when possible and use technology as a means to be more productive.

6. You are motivated by humanitarian causes.

7. You are a self-promoter and have an opportunist’s mindset—you know how to grow your brand.

8. You have a low BS factor and seek out those people who are authentically themselves.

9. You seek feedback.

10. You are impatient.

If eight or more are True for you, you too are more like a Millennial than your assigned generation, please share your thoughts and any other characteristics that I have not included.

5 Ways to Grow Your Self Awareness – Leaders Must Read!

One of the perks of being a professional speaker is that I get to hang out with really smart people, which means I often I get to pick their brains.

Take for instance last Sunday night when I had dinner with one of the top executive coaches in Houston, Cecilia Rose. Cecilia works Houston’s top tier leaders helping them successfully navigate through career transitions.

I asked her what was the #1 top quality of successful leaders, and before I could finish the question, she responded with “keen self-awareness.” Expecting to hear words more like vision, charisma, and strategic thinking, I was thrilled to hear that answer because self-awareness is one of the key qualities I emphasize in all my presentations (Unwritten Rules of Success)

“Your IQ will get you the job but your EQ (Emotional Intelligence – Self Awareness) will get you the promotion”  Cecilia Rose

To define the term, self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires. It is the essential building block in effective leadership. Having an “awareness” of yourself and the people around you will help you effectively lead and inspire all you come in contact with.

 So, the underlying question is: How do you develop self-awareness? Here are some steps to follow to bring you to this level of moving more assuredly in the world.

1.  Take and Take-in your Personality Assessment – If you digest what it says about yourself, your Self-Awareness will grow. I was in my 20s when I took the Myers Briggs personality test—and I scored an ENFP, which means that I am a passion-driven “idea” person. ENFPs gain energy from interacting with others, and become quickly excited over new possibilities and ideas … and don’t always finish what they have started. ENFPs dislike routine work and want a variety of tasks and challenges. They prefer to set their own schedule and chafe when saddled with excessive regulations or mundane details,

Throughout the years I have taken a lot of personality tests, such as DISC, the Birkman, The Enneagram, True Colors, and just last month I took the Insights Discovery Assessment. It took me an hour to complete because every question came down to a split decision, and I really tried to be honest in my answers. The eagerly anticipated report arrived from it: “Karen may generate more ideas, possibilities, and plans in one day than others might manage in a month! Her life will tend to be a series of initiated, but unfinished projects. She should take care to include the practical details in her projects and continually try to look at situations from an objective viewpoint rather than just her own perception. Her energy comes from a variety of new projects and interests.”

“If one person calls you a horse’s ass, be curious. If two call you one, be reflective… if three call you a horse’s ass buy a saddle.” Anonymous

If you are interested in developing your self-awareness, you may want to revisit the assessments you have taken and “take-in” what has been written about you.

2.  Participate in a 360 assessment. There can be a world of difference between what you think you project and what others think of you. I worked with a coach several years ago, and she had me ask my clients the four questions below as we developed my personal brand. In finding people to help you get answers, branch out and include bosses, peers, and subordinates. You can even include neighbors, friends, and if you are brave—family members. But they can be the most brutal, so give them the questions in writing and let them have time to think about their answers.

Please give a one-word or one-phrase answer to the following questions

  1. 1. What one word describes my personality?
  1. 2. What value or principle do you most closely associate with me?
  1. 3. What skill, ability, or talent comes to mind when you think of me?
  1. 4. How would you describe me to others who have never met me?

 3. Take the StrenghtsFinder: To help people uncover their talents, Gallup introduced the first version of its online assessment in 2001, StrengthsFinder ignited a global conversation and helped millions to discover their top five talents. In its latest national bestseller, StrengthsFinder 2.0, Gallup unveils the new and improved version of its popular assessment. Take time and discover your top five strengths.

 shutterstock_1111318824. Listen … to yourself. Start listening to your own voice and observe how others react to your tone and your words. Begin to set aside time in the morning before work and replay some of the scenarios of the previous day. How did your voice and maybe even your body language affect others.

5.  Cultivate your ability to focus. “Focus is the hidden driver of excellence,” according to Daniel Goleman. If you can block out the noise and silence your inner distracters, you will begin to see situations more clearly and how you fit into the picture. Because I am an ENFP, focus has always been a challenge for me. Three years ago, I started a yoga class, and I noticed that I spent more time watching others, comparing myself to them. I decided that if I was going to grow and enjoy the classes, I had to close my eyes and focus on my own practice. The outcome was that yoga has helped me attain focus.What are you doing to grow your focus?

Please share your thoughts on self- awareness and add to the list any thoughts or strategies you have tried or are thinking about trying.