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Do You Have Your Assessment – Or Does It Have You?

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“I will never use Twitter, I do not know a single leader that I coach who uses it –  it is a waste of my time. Besides, I do not want to be one of those people who tweets about my activities in a Starbucks’ line!”

Yes, I said it. It was sometime in 2013 and I was working with my branding partner, the amazing Emily Aiken. Emily had shared her vision of the rebranding of my company and we were discussing my use of social media as a tool. I was sure I had all the answers; after all I had put several minutes into my study of social media in order to come up with this powerful conclusion, a conclusion that was about to change. It changed when Emily shared this statement: “You know, for someone who is an expert on change, you sure do not seem open to trying something new like social media.” It was a kick in the gut; and a kick that I needed.

I realized that what I had when it came to social media was a whole bunch of assessments. In my world, as a coach, we define an assessment as an opinion, verdict, or judgment that can never be proven true or false. People often make assessments based on a murky or arbitrary standard. Let’s look at my assessments around social media. I had created the opinion that using social media would be a waste of my time, that there was little good that could come of it. All of the above were simply my opinions, they were neither true nor false, but I was living them as if they were true. I had never actually stopped and tested the standards I felt validated my assessment. I had never actually used Twitter and explored its ability to connect me with other people. I had simply made up a story, a story that allowed me to continue in my negative assessment. Instead of my having my assessments, they had me. That is the power of assessments, they create the boundaries in a person’s world, whether they are valid or not. In my case, they allowed me to play small in business and not put my company out there, to not take a risk.

Now, assessments are not a bad thing. For instance, what time did you get up this morning? You likely got up at a time that allowed you to get to work or the gym on time. How did you know what time to get up? Well you had to make an assessment. You judged that to get to the gym on time in the morning you had to wake up at 5:30 so that you could be at the Crossfit class by six. Assessments allow us to navigate the world, the challenge is to be aware that they are simply assessments and that we need to make sure we are not living them as truths and closing off possibilities. So the next time you have an opinion or a judgment that is not grounded in fact, that can’t be proven against a defined standard, take the time to see if you have an assessment – or if your assessment has you. As for me, I need to go check in on Twitter and continue my conversations, after all, my new assessment is that social media is fun.

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