Portrait and Best-self Stories

Topics: Portrait, Portrait painting, Greatest hits albums Pages: 20 (5778 words) Published: November 11, 2012
We wish to acknowledge our collaborators, Brianna Barker Caza, Ph.D., and Emily Heaphy, Ph.D., for their contributions to our ongoing research on the Reflected Best Self Exercise™ (RBSE™). This research served as the inspiration and conceptual anchor for this exercise. We thank Jennifer Suesse for her collaboration on the Bringing My Reflected Best Self to Life action steps, which inspired Phase 2 in this edition of the exercise. We thank the Stephen M. Ross School of Business for its continued support of the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship. We appreciate the questions and comments we have received from those who have completed and/or facilitated the RBSE™. Thank you for sharing how you have brought your best self to life!

This copy is intended for single use only. Please do not copy or distribute. The Reflected Best Self Exercise™ is available for sale as a PDF download at the website of the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship, www.centerforpos.org.



Born from empirical research from University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship, the Reflected Best Self Exercise™ (RBSE™) uses stories collected from people in all contexts of your life to help you understand and articulate who you are and how you contribute when you are at your best. With this new insight, you will feel immediately strengthened and connected to others, experience clarity about who you are at your best, and refine personal development goals to be your best self more often. The RBSE™ guides you step-by-step through the process of identifying potential respondents, making the request for feedback, creating your a priori best-self portrait, analyzing your reflected best-self stories, creating a new, reflected best-self portrait, and translating that portrait into proactive steps for living at your best.



All of us can recall our own extraordinary moments, those moments when we felt that our best self was brought to light, affirmed by others, and put into practice in the world. These memories are seared into our minds as moments or situations in which we have felt alive, true to our deepest selves, and pursuing our full potential as human beings. Over time, we collect these experiences into a “portrait” of who we are and what we do when we are at our personal best. This “best-self portrait” is a resource we call on to build confidence, to help us make decisions, to be courageous, to prepare and see possibilities for the future, to face challenges, and so much more. We can strengthen our own best-self portraits with insights reflected back to us from significant others in our lives. Our friends, colleagues, and family members have different perspectives, and can offer unique and valuable insights into the ways we add value and make positive contributions. Research shows that the difference between a weakness-based self portrait and a strong best-self portrait is closely correlated to the difference between normal and extraordinary leadership. A popular assumption of personal development exercises and programs is that a person’s area of weakness is that person’s greatest area of opportunity (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Proponents of a strengths-based orientation argue that the deficit model may diminish people’s chances of making their greatest contributions, which is performing at their best, or achieving an integrated sense of who one is at one’s best. A strengths-based approach to personal development assumes that progress towards excellence is not a function of improving on weaknesses, but is a function of building on strengths. As you’ll see in the last step of this exercise, the RBSE™ takes a nuanced approach to developing understanding of both your...
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