Transforming Personal Growth: Look Back to Look Forward

I have had several epiphanies over this past year while taking a deep dive into strengths through the Strengths Strategy certification training I completed. Coming to know my entire list of 34 strengths has given me a much better appreciation for where I am strong, where I am experiencing ease and success and where I struggle and fail.

The awareness of how my strengths manifest themselves when the needs of my strengths are not met has been eye-opening. The places where I have often been criticized, shamed or had negative performance reviews in the past are the places where the shadow of my strengths shows up in over or under use.

Finding the courage to be vulnerable in examining my stories and behaviors has been humbling and freeing at the same time. With knowledge comes choice in how I show up, how I meet the needs of my strengths so I can live my purpose more powerfully.


Revisit the event and reframe it. Aim to extract the wisdom and truth. Click To Tweet

It’s easy to get stuck in the past when a strong emotional memory takes hold and affects our self-identity. Here is one way to get unstuck from the past and step into personal growth.

Few of us take the time to evaluate our personal stories. To examine if they are authentically ‘our’ story or one created over the years derived from the stories that we have heard and have been told about who we are. Have you paused to examine how well your stories help you navigate the complexities of present day relationships? Are they working for you?

In Judith Glaser’s book Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust & Get Extraordinary Results, the author suggests an exercise to look at the past, find new meaning from significant events, and create successful behavior patterns.

Look Back to Look Forward

You can do this on your own, but it’s much more efficient to do with a trusted partner, friend, or better yet, your coach. In this exercise, choose events in your life that are significant. Write them down and then ask, for each event, “Is it my truth?” and “What can I learn from this?”

Rather than blindly bringing along the negative feelings, revisit the event and reframe the way you remember and think about it. Aim to extract the wisdom and truth from the situation and take that forward into your current and future life.

Step 1
You can do this graphically using a line drawing, or make a list. Outline your lifeline into three segments: the first third of your life, second third, and last third.

Step 2
Looking at each time segment, identify the events, big or small, that had an important impact on you. Write down some keywords to anchor them. Find at least one episode in each time frame. Each experience will have a key event, people, a story you made up about it, and a takeaway you formed at the time.

After identifying your timeline stories, set it aside for a day or two before you reread it. Then, share them with a trusted partner, friend or your coach.

Step 3
As you reread and share your stories, ask yourself, coach or confidant if he or she sees any patterns you may not have seen. Challenge yourself to step back to see the big picture. As you get to the present, see the larger patterns in your life. Capture insights.

Step 4
What could be next when you look into the future to see alternate story possibilities? How can a new authentic story impact your future? Is there a pattern that you want to replicate, change, or do differently? Find the elements of wisdom and truth for your life’s journey.

Step 5
As you reflect on your life from this new perspective, what lessons or insights can you carry forward to create your new authentic story? What are your biggest takeaways? Or aha’s?

Accomplishing this requires pausing, taking the time for introspection and being open to exploring ‘your truth.’ And, I highly recommend doing this with a trusted coach. I would love to hear how this worked for you. What were your takeaway’s or aha’s? Contact me or let’s connect on LinkedIn.



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