Know yourself: The secret to career success

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Julia is a 22-year-old college graduate who is looking for her first full-time position in the workforce. At her first interview, the human resources representative said “Tell me about yourself.” Julia gave the standard answers like, “I’m a go-getter,” “I work well with others,” “I graduated with a 3.5 GPA,” and “I’m a fast learner.”

But, Julia thought about that question on her way home. Over and over again the question “Tell me about you,” kept replaying in her mind. Who is she really? Does she even know who she is? Will she fit into the culture of that office, or will she have a problem assimilating?

Knowing yourself is the key to success in life and business. When you know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, you become a much better asset to any company, and you can tackle the day-to-day aspects of any job: projects, timelines, interruptions, crises and more. Following the questions below will help you recognize what it is that make you you, and how you can excel:

What type of person are you? What’s inside of you is reflected to the outside world through your actions. Do you accept others for who they are? Do you pass people without smiling at them or speaking? If someone holds the door for you, do you say thank you? Do you appreciate the differences in others, like their way of dress, their language, their culture; or, do you criticize and think that you’re better than they are? Were you taught manners, etiquette and other common courtesies? Be honest with yourself, and try to reflect your innate goodness.

How do you stay positive and upbeat? When you feel poorly on a daily basis; when you are exhausted at the end of your workday, to the point of hating your job, all of that negativity accumulates and will eventually present itself as bitterness, anger, depression, and self-involvement. You need to be able to release that negativity and turn it into positive energy. You control yourself and your behavior. You can decide today to be more positive and be the best employee that you can be, until you know what your passion and purpose is in this lifetime. Then at that point, you can pursue your desires.

What do you do to energize yourself? There should be something that you enjoy doing that is just for you This doesn’t include going to school, taking the kids to activities, cleaning the house, cooking, attending meetings. Find the one thing that you do for you; time set aside to make you feel better emotionally, mentally, and physically. It can be anything from painting, photography, practicing playing an instrument, to watching movie marathons, reading or meditation.

Do you have a place where you can relax, meditate, and enhance your calm? The world is full of noise; how do you shut that out and find peace? There should be a place away from your office that makes you feel calm and at peace. For some it’s early morning on the porch, eyes closed, cup of coffee in hand, breathing deep and preparing for the day ahead. Others may have a place in their home that has a small fountain, plants by a window, with soft, low music playing. There, you can take a deep breath and focus on positive things within yourself, or positive affirmations. You can speak that into being. You think it, you focus on it, you speak it, and so be it! You carry more power within yourself than you realize.

How do you make a difference in your community? Your life should be of value to your community. Give back one person at a time. Help an elderly person with the door, participate in a neighborhood clean-up, or volunteer at a local soup kitchen. In a many cultures, there is some form of a rite of passage that teaches their young people how to be men and women. They are taught how to be a benefit to their community. Doing so rewards everyone in the community and makes it a better place to live.

Julia took an honest look at herself, at where she excelled and where she needed direction. She learned to tell interviewers about her real self, and how that person could benefit the company. She got to know her passions and found a career where she could express them. Whether you are seeking a job or seeking promotion in your current job, you can use the answers to these questions to not only benefit yourself as an individual employee, but to better your team, department or company.

Sharon Bennett, BA, BSN, has been a motivational health and wellness consultant for nearly 16 years. She is the author of the "Shoe Fetish Series," the International Library of Poetry’s Editor’s Choice Award 2001 winner, a member of the National Speakers Association and the National Association of Professional Women. For more information, go to, call 888-321-9604, or e-mail


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