“It is only in teams where you have the courage and bravery to be your full self that you can contribute your best.”
—Keith Yamashita, SYPartners Chairman and Founder
Self-reflection is a key element to personal growth and allows us to be more aware of ourselves and how we show up at work. By looking inward, we can be more open and honest about what makes us who we are and make more authentic connections with others.
In our latest Creative Confidence Series chat, Keith Yamashita, Founder and Chairman of SYPartners and instructor in our class From Superpowers to Great Teams, shared this exercise to guide individuals and teams through the process of reflecting on and embracing their full identities.
Try this activity to build trust among your teammates and uncover the skills and perspectives you can each bring forward.
Step 1 — List Every Aspect of Your Identity
Think about the phrase “I am _____.” Now, fill in the blank. Get out a piece of paper and write down every word that comes to mind. This should be a long list.
Go broad, and include all kinds of things that make up your identity. When Keith does this exercise, he writes that he’s a trained economist, a father, gay, a dog owner, a Scrabble expert, a hoarder, a pencil maniac, and much more.
Our identities are composed of limitless aspects of ourselves, not just the pieces we bring to work.
Step 2 — Unveil Your Hidden Identities
Now think about which of these identities you tend to shelter or hide and which you bring into a work context. When you step into a new situation, for example meeting a new team or introducing yourself to a room of strangers, which identities do you hide?
How does the situation affect which aspects of yourself you bring forward and which you shelter?
As Keith says, you have all this richness about you, but by not sharing these different aspects of your identity with others you’re depriving the world of your full talents and your full self.
Step 3 — Unpack Identities with Your Team
Repeat this exercise with your team. Have everyone write out their identity list then separate into pairs. Without looking at their lists have everyone share their identities with their partner. Guide a discussion around what elements of their identities people shared, and what they omitted (either purposefully or unconsciously).
“We’re constantly depriving others of our full humanity,” Keith says. “Every single word you leave off is a richness that you could explore.”
This may feel uncomfortable at first, but the goal is to build trust among your team so that you create a space where it’s safe to bring your full self to work.
Research shows that diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams by significant margins, especially on problems that require creativity, new thinking, and synthesis of knowledge. The complex problems modern businesses face require everyone to bring the entire toolbox of skills they possess as individuals. Right now is the time to be more open than ever before.
“It is only in teams where you have the courage and bravery to be your full self that you can contribute your best,” Keith says. “And it’s the only place creative leadership can thrive.”
Learn more about Keith’s approach to creative leadership and find out how to uncover your hidden strengths in our From Superpowers to Great Teams online on-demand class.