“Professional is not a label you give yourself. It’s a description you hope others will apply to you.”

“Professional is not a label you give yourself. It’s a description you hope others will apply to you.”

—David Maister, former Harvard Business School professor

If you say something positive about yourself, it is referred to as bragging. If others say similar things about you, it is considered the truth.

What do the people at work and in your career efforts have to say about you? How are you perceived and how do these perceptions compare and contrast from your own?

What would you like others to say and how do your words and deeds warrant such acknowledgment and praise?


Seek feedback from a small group of trusted colleagues. Let them reveal the unique abilities, superpowers, and best qualities they see in you. Ask them also about your weaknesses, and the limiting blind spots that may be holding you back from the professional levels you desire.

Thank them for their candid and generous perspective, and promise to act on their wise council.

For extra credit, consider a similar exercise with family and friends.

Feel free to reply to this post to let me know what you discover and how it impacts your life.

You don’t always have to chop with the sword of truth

“You don’t always have to chop with the sword of truth. You can point with it also.”

—Anne Lamott, American writer and political activist

Image of a person in a fencing pose

Image from wikipedia

Professional and personal feedback can be extraordinarily useful as we learn and grow into better versions of ourselves. Unfortunately, on some occasions, a bit too much tough love or hard reality are forced upon us.

When you have been on the receiving end of such sword chopping, how receptive do you tend to be? How carefully do you listen and remain receptive and coachable? If you are like most people, you might withdraw and stop listening to simply protect yourself from these perceived attacks.

Where, perhaps, have you been giving aggressive feedback to others in your professional or personal communities?


Where and how would a kinder, more caring form of feedback and sword pointing (versus chopping) create the openness in yourself and others and the growth and results you intend?

Without promotion something terrible happens

“Without promotion something terrible happens… Nothing.”

⏤P.T. Barnum, 19th Century politician & Founder of Barnum & Bailey Circus

Image of Greatest Show on Earth poster

The Greatest Show on Earth will sadly close forever in May 2017. It appears that after 146 years, no amount of promotion will overcome the numerous challenges facing the circus, including considerable shifts in public taste.

If you have visited Las Vegas over the last decade, you can see what Cirque du Soleil has done to reinvent the genre.

Are people losing interest in your products, services, or ideas?

How engaged and active have you been in promoting them?

What feedback have you received that has caused you to rework or reinvent your ideas in order to remain relevant in today’s world?


Consider picking up a copy of Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Cham Kim and Renée Mauborgne to get some fresh ideas in this area, and then promote away!

put them to mending

“Happy are they that can hear their detractions and put them to mending.”

—William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

Image from biography.com

Image from biography.com

Shakespeare must have been one heck of a coach!

The nugget of wisdom in today’s quote is an excellent example of what we today call 360° Feedback.

Shakespeare understood that people who are open and receptive to input from others—even when the feedback is perceived as negative or detracting—are happier and more successful.


Where and with whom would greater openness to both positive and negative feedback be put to good use in your personal or professional growth strategy?

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”

—Authors Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

Photo from Flickr by General Mills

Photo from Flickr by General Mills

My dad coached a number of sports teams as part of his role as a physical education teacher. When I was a boy, I sometimes had breakfast with him before his games. The only thing he would eat on game days was Wheaties — the “Breakfast of Champions.”  Call it however you want it, his team almost always won.

I wanted to be a champion like my dad, so I dove into those cereal bowls with great gusto!


Who are the mentors, advisers, and coaches that are committed to your success? How can you fully ingest their feedback to achieve your own personal or professional championships?