Self-assessments: Helpful or harmful?

My love for self-assessments began likely when I was 16 and reading Seventeen Magazine. Who doesn’t want that “aha, that’s SO me!” moment that helps you feel less alone. Or that, magical, “how did they know that about me!?” feeling?

Self-assessments can be helpful in understanding why we tick the way we tick. We can learn our strengths and also how we get in our own way. If not approached carefully and with an open mind, however, self-assessments can be self-limiting and make us feel like we lack something important needed to reach our goals. We can even worsen any inferiority complexes if our assessment results tell us our weaknesses without any caveats around potential inaccuracy or suggestions on how to contextualize and utilize your results.

As a professional coach, I still enjoy a good self-assessment, but with a bit more care and discernment. They all have limitations. I certainly do not have my clients dip into magazines for life-changing revelations. Taking any self-assessment should be done with a grain of salt since it does not define you and should never limit your sense of self. You can also take one on a bad day or a fantastic day, skewing your “average state.” Bias can slip through the cracks of even the most verified, stable assessments. We want to be pleased with our results! If we can approach self-assessments with a light-heartedness and curiosity, they can certainly be helpful to understand ourselves and how we relate to others.

Here’s how to make the most of self-assessments:

  • Make sure any assessment is credible. 
  • Be in a good state of mind, with a willingness to learn and grow. 
  • Remember it does not define you! 
  • It is no predictor of the future. 
  • Work with a certified coach, ideally, to help you use assessments as a tool for self-reflection and growth. 
  • Ask yourself, what do I want to do with the results? Have a plan on how it can help you. For example: If results show a weakness in communication skills, how might you seek support to improve your communication? 

The two popular assessments I use in my practice are: 

Positive Intelligence® Saboteur Assessment (FREE)

With this researched-backed and Stanford University-supported assessment, you can learn how your nine “Saboteurs” get in the way of reaching your optimal potential and happiness. See which of the nine Saboteurs plague you the most. I am certified in teaching this framework, and run group coaching “pods” and my clients have loved using the “Saboteur” language as a way of stopping their negative self-talk.

Personal note: For me, my Restless Saboteur has me running around like a chicken with my head cut off, all in the name of “productivity.” My Hyper-achiever Saboteur has me constantly moving my goal post, thinking that I can always do better.  Yet, my awareness of my Saboteurs helps me to recover quickly from my negative talk and shift into a more empathetic, creative, and focused mindset.

CliftonStrengths Assesment ($20)

The CliftonStrengths® Assessment is a positive counter-balance to the Saboteur-based work. Of the 34 highly researched Strengths, you can learn which five are the strongest in you so that you can gain insights into what you do best and discover how the specific combination of your top five Strengths makes you unique. Become aware of the blindspots of your Strengths and what happens when they are overexpressed. (Hint: they shift into Saboteur-driven behaviors!) 

Personal note: This philosophy was valuable to me because I always felt like I had to master my weaknesses. NO! It doesn’t mean I don’t want to grow, but why not excel at what I do best? This is how people find careers they love–they lean into their strengths. 

There are lots of other popular assessments our there such as Enneagram, DISC, and MBTI. Enjoy your self-discovery, but keep a sage perspective. Only you decide what to do with the results!

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I’m Cassidy Nasello.

I was once driven by stress, fear, shame, jealousy, self-doubt, and perfectionism – until I learned to recognize and combat my self-sabotaging talk. I bravely honored my inner truth and quickly saw that I could serve others as I served myself. My focus is strong and purposeful now. I want for you what I claimed for myself.

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