One of the questions I ask participants in my Brand YOU workshops is, “What is your greatness?” And the asking of this question reframes and redefines the whole way people think about themselves and one another.
The workplace development model assumes that people are incomplete in some way. Perhaps they need to learn better communication skills. Or improve their leadership skills. Or lift their presentation skills. Or further develop their technical skills. And this may be so. However, the view that every person has “greatness” in them today – this very instant – without having to go on some course or program, is very liberating for two reasons.
First, it assumes a positive view of people. It assumes that every person has “greatness” in them already – be it their passion, their bravery, their kindness, or their resilience. And when people discuss, acknowledge, and own what makes them “great” they begin to walk taller, and they smile a lot.
Interestingly, when I ask people, “What is your greatness?”, most people really under-sell themselves. That’s because we have become conditioned to be humble and modest. After all, who the heck walks around saying, “Hey, look at me. I’m great”? Nobody, right! So I turn to that person’s work colleagues, and I ask them, “What makes Susan great?” And the accolades start pouring in. “She’s generous and kind. She really cares. She never gives up. You can depend on her 100%”. And Susan’s face lights up with pride and appreciation.
Second, “what is your greatness” makes the point that everyone is great. Every person, no matter who they are and how you feel about them, has “greatness” in them – certain qualities that make them shine. And so the invitation is to relate to the “greatness” in everyone, and not people’s imperfections. Which we typically don’t do.
We have a sort of mental scale on which we rank people. “You’re awesome, you’re ok, you I can tolerate, you I can’t bear.” And the reality is that you will encounter and have to work with all of these people at work. So instead of hating on some people, try instead to find and relate to the “greatness” in everyone. “Sure, you’re not my best or most favourite person, but you sure as heck are patient when it comes to helping out other people, and I’ve never heard you say a bad word about anyone else.”
When you start seeing and owning your own “greatness”, your whole experience of yourself changes. And when you start relating to other people’s “greatness”, your whole experience of them changes, and their whole experience of you changes. So what are you waiting for?