reflected best self - yiming chen 2.pdf

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  • Reflected Best Self Exercise

    Yiming CHEN

    1. Introduction

    When Dr. Gooty first introduced the Reflected Best Self assignment, I was not so sure

    about the potential benefits I can get from such an exercise. Its my second semester in

    the part-time MBA program. I am eager to complete all the required courses, so that I can

    focus on the finance concentration. With a Ph.D. in Biomolecular Engineering and five

    years of experience in medical technology development, I am ready to expand my

    knowledge and advance my career in company valuation and venture capital investment.

    I have reached an age that I am quite aware of my strengths and weaknesses. Also, I felt

    very nervous that I had to reach out to more than ten people to ask them giving me

    compliments on moments of my best-self. From where I was born and raised, a

    conservative family from China, the standard proper answer to any compliment is: no,

    no, I am really not that good, and I still have a long way to go.

    With the doubt in mind, I spent 2 months to go through this exercise. I reached out to

    eleven people explaining the design of the assignment and the types of feedback I

    needed. Almost all my friends and colleagues responded with great enthusiasm. I

    organized and analyzed all the data carefully, and to my surprise, going through the

    exercise allowed me to see myself a little bit differently. And Ive gained new insights

    using the information to better understand myself and to improve myself.

    This report documents the process, the data, my analysis, and my key take-away from

    the Reflected Best Self experience.

  • 2. My first self-best portrait

    When I first reflected about the times when I was at my best self, I was mainly

    focused on personal factors:

    I see myself as a very intelligent person. I feel I was at my best tackling a major

    research project when I was doing my Ph.D. at the Johns Hopkins University. Before I

    took on the project to predict the extent of polymer chain agglomeration, three of my

    fellow graduate students tried and concluded that it was not doable. I developed a new

    algorithm to solve the problem and generated great results that were later validated by

    experiment data. When I was ready to graduate, my advisor told his colleague that: She

    is not just one of the best graduate students Ive had over the years. She is the best. That

    was the best compliment I have ever heard from my advisor.

    I am a person with good perception. I am good at understanding the challenge, the

    big picture, the pros, cons and risks of options. I feel I was at my best making difficult

    decisions under a lot of uncertainty. In 2012, I was working at the Carey Business School

    at Johns Hopkins. My husband got a faculty position at the same School, and another

    offer from Wells Fargo. Each choice has its benefits and limits. And it was most

    convenient for us to choose to stay in Baltimore. I analyzed the situation, our own career

    goals, and the long-term career potential in Baltimore and Charlotte. I convinced my

    husband to accept the offer from Wells Fargo, and I would move to Charlotte to find a

    new job. This allowed us to accumulate solid industrial experience before going back to

    academia. We are both very happy and satisfied by this decision.

    I am also productive and efficient when I put my minds to work. In fall 2014, I

    enrolled in MBA program at UNCC. At that time, I just got a promotion with increased

  • responsibility at work. While having a full-time job with heavy workload, I took nine

    credit hours of courses each semester. I came up with a time-management system to

    make sure that I perform well at work as well as in school. I divided a typical work day

    into five one-hour sessions, each devoted to one project. I concentrated on school work

    on Saturdays, using the morning to read textbooks and articles, the afternoon to do

    homework, and the evening to review class notes. I found myself highly productive under

    pressure. I got another promotion after six months, and a 4.0 GPA.

    3. Feedback process: Analysis & observations

    I reached out to five colleagues, four friends, and two family members to collect my

    best-self stories. These are people who interact with me at least once every week, most on

    a daily basis. Their names, current positions and contact information are listed in

    Appendix I. All respondents provided two to three stories of when I was at my best in

    their eyes, and my positive contributions in the stories. I initiated follow-up phone calls

    and conversations when further clarifications and details were needed. A summary of all

    the stories collected is included in Appendix II. After I read and analyzed the context of

    each story, I included my own reflections and grouped the thirty three stories into eight

    themes based on the underlying traits and qualities suggested by the stories, as shown in

    Table 1.

    Most of the feedback on my quality and strength are in accordance with how I see

    myself. My family, friends, and colleagues shared examples showing that I am smart,

    perspective, and very productive at generating results. Its interesting that what impressed

    them the most was not my achievements or qualifications, but more on how I interacted

  • with and supported other people. Many thanked me for the help or encouragement I gave

    during their difficult times. Most were small favors that I did, which I could barely recall.

    This is a thought-provoking finding to me from this exercise. I used to believe that my

    core identity is mainly defined by my IQ, qualifications, and achievements. Now I start to

    realize that is not the whole picture. As social being, I am also defined by how I build and

    cultivate meaningful relationships and bonds with people around me, and how I grow

    with everyone in the same network. Another wonderful surprise was the feedback that I

    am courageous and resilient when facing difficult situations. This theme is supported by

    five stories. To be more calm and resilient towards challenging people or situation is a

    strength that I have always wanted to build. I am very glad to see the confirmation of the

    progress I made.

    Patterns/Themes

    Declarations Examples Given

    Intelligent I am very intelligent and always willing to work hard towards my goal.

    1. Doing full-time work and full-time MBA, have performed well in both

    2. Tackled challenging research topic 3. Gained qualification and experience in

    research, technology transfer, and finance in five years

    Perceptive I have good insights and understanding of situation, and use critical thinking skills to solve problems.

    1. Helped my husband to pick a job offer that fits our long term goal

    2. Justified why the my teams annual goals needed to be revisited with sufficient data

    3. Made the decision to transfer my father to a better hospital for surgery at tough times

    4. Arranged my mothers deep brain stimulation surgery

    5. Determined IP strategy for a novel ophthalmology instrument

    Productive I am highly focused and efficient to finish tasks.

    1. Colleague doesnt realize I am in office when I am focused to complete my work.

    2. Spent less time each week to finish 9 credit MBA courses each semester

    3. Gathered my team, made plan, and tackled a new overwhelming project within

  • timeline Management skills

    I am good at organizing activities, and can coordinate resources efficiently.

    1. Organized BBQ event to speed up food preparation and serving

    2. Helped arrange friends move across town

    Empowering I believe in the potential of others, and always encourage others.

    1. Stimulated friends to come up with the best strategy when played board games together

    2. Gave friend advice and shared books to help him fight his depression

    3. Called friend every day in her last two weeks of MCAT preparation to encourage her

    4. Gradually gave new hire more responsibilities as time progressed, ensuring she had time to become more acclimated to our companys culture and her work load

    5. Shared my IP knowledge with my friend and encouraged her to discuss the ownership issue with her supervisor

    Team-player I believe in teamwork, and work hard to contribute my best

    1. Played board games tactically to help my team achieve goals

    2. Continued to work online to meet deadline during family loss

    3. Walked Elizabeth through the process of patenting in easy-to-understand terms

    4. Answered question for teammate at group presentation

    Courageous and resilient

    I believe in facing challenge with courage, can withstand pressure, and recover from difficult conditions.

    1. Calmly approached and came to a peaceful resolution with an irate customer

    2. Made the decision to pursue the best high school in spite of the high risk

    3. Moved into grandfathers room after he passed away. Stayed there alone to study late every night.

    4. Spoke up facing tumultuous work situation

    5. Handled an abrasive manager in a professional manner

    Friendly and delightful

    I believe in treating others with kindness and respect. My friends find it pleasant to hang out with me.

    1. Approached Lingling at sidewalk, and started a fun conversation to know her

    2. Impressed Kara as I paid attention and truly listene

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