Self-Exploration Drives Success

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When I think of self-exploration, I imagine Christopher Columbus and some cheesy quote about the next horizon. However, self-assessment and self-exploration aren’t superficial. They’re at the root of professional development and drive career success.

Self-exploration seeks to answer questions about personal strengths and values. By answering these questions through various personality assessments, you can enhance your career by building upon your strengths and improving your weaknesses.

Personality tests are an intriguing method of self-exploration. Paul Kirbach, pre-commercial corn supply planner at Monsanto, analyzes the results from these assessments to adapt his communication style and better understand his fellow employees and their work styles.

Self-exploration is a lifelong process as we continue to grow as individuals and expand our breadth of experience. As Kirbach will attest to, personal strengths evolve with experience. He took the Clifton Strengths Finder early in his career with Monsanto and then again a year later. His three core strengths stayed the same, but as Kirbach matured in his career, his other strengths shifted slightly.

Along with continuing to assess your strengths, Kirbach advises young professionals to always “be open to feedback and be inquisitive.” This means not only asking for feedback on the job, but also being able to take that information and put it to use. Feedback, even if unsolicited, can be an additional self-exploration tool. He said to embrace feedback, “whether you ask for it or not.”

Self-exploration also includes seeking out professional development opportunities through various organizations. Many of the professional organizations available at the collegiate level, such as Agriculture Future of America, Collegiate Farm Bureau and Student NAMA, offer continued involvement opportunities beyond the college experience. Kirbach said he has personally benefited from his involvement in the AFA Alliance, which helped him maintain the network he built in college. His involvement helped him connect with fellow young professionals active in other professional organizations, which lead to him joining Farm Bureau.

Self-exploration assessments Kirbach recommends include the DISC assessment, which focuses on personality traits and using them to work with others, and the Peak Performance Series from Peak Solutions.

I also recommend taking the Myers & Briggs personality type quiz, which uses preferences to create 16 four letter code personality types, and the VisualDNA personality test, which is a fun resource for visual learners using pictures associated with values.

Which personality assessments have you found beneficial for professional development?

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