How to Master Self Assessment

Colleen McCreary

with Colleen McCreary

Chief People Officer at Credit Karma

How to Master Self Assessment

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Credit Karma Chief People Officer Colleen McCreary and Jenna discuss how our self-dialogue shapes our reality and the way we show up for ourselves and others. Colleen shares self-assessment practices you can try right now to write a more empowering story for yourself, expand your dreams, and silence your self doubt realizing them.

Highlights from the Transcript

  • On advice to her younger self: “Who you are and what you are going to be is going to manifest later in life. If you work hard and do the things that you need to do life will get better…This is a short time in a long life span. It’s okay to make mistakes, be who you are, have painful experiences and feel your way through them. They aren’t going to last forever.”
  • On challenging the status quo as a child: “There were many times when I wished I didn’t take on the mantle of arguing the other side or speaking up for someone but I am so glad I got comfortable with that because it’s a big part of becoming comfortable being who you are, standing up for what you believe in and voicing an opinion that may be considered negative relative to the others. If I didn’t have that, I don’t think I would have gotten the roles and opportunities I’ve had.”
  • On changing your self-dialogue: “When I was at Zynga, we grew from 130 to 4,000 people around the world in three years. I didn’t know if I could do that job. I was constantly telling the Founder: ‘I’ve never done this before and I don’t think I can. It’s a lot of responsibility. There are so many people’s lives.’ He would always ask me: ‘Who else has done this? No one has done it for us or any other company. If not you, then who?’ I really appreciated that because our comfort zone is choosing things where we can be successful right away. I was really uncomfortable for a long time because it was so much new all at once. I would go home every day scared about whether I made the right decisions. In the moment, it feels like every one of those decisions is huge, even if they aren’t in retrospect. The self doubt can really eat you away if you don’t have your own inner talk track to shift it and say: ‘I know I can do this.’ I kept repeating: ‘If not me, then who?’ I consistently went back to that. You can create whatever anchor you need to repeat and recenter.”
  • On writing your own story: ‘You can keep telling yourself the story you are right now and make it true or you can write yourself another story and make that one true’…The biggest difference between people who are successful and those who aren’t is the ability to rewrite the narrative about themselves, what the future can look like, and not being a victim. It’s helpful to have a mirror of someone who will play it back for you.”
  • On your reflective best self: “There’s a great tool out of the University of Michigan: The Reflective Best Self Exercise. Ask four or five people who have seen you in multiple environments to give you an example of a time when you showed up really well and made a positive impression on them (This can be done via phone, email, text, etc.). We typically focus on corrective feedback, so highlighting the positives is a joy for both parties. Because we don’t see ourselves the way others do, this reminds us of things we don’t remember we did or things don’t think we’re great at that have been helpful to others. Going back to those playbacks over the years can be so powerful.”
  • On your personal board of directors: “You should form your own board of directors: People you can trust to give you advice about various aspects of your life personally and professionally. They’re the people you can continue to rely on as a touchstone.”
  • On self-assessment: “Deep down, we all have an ego. We often make decisions in a way that we think will make us look better. It’s so easy to default to the choice that everyone will like you for, without realizing the long-term implications of doing so. The combination of wanting to be liked and the fear of hurting someone’s feelings is dangerous personally and professionally.”
  • On silencing the noise: “You have to grow a thick skin and get some really good lotion to soften it up. I would be a nut job if I hadn’t gotten comfortable with the fact that I’m making decisions because I have the best set of information to make them and people are trusting me to do so. You have to hope for the best outcome and be okay that not everyone is going to like it.”
  • On your example: “Most leaders forget that you’re always ‘on’ no matter what you’re doing. When you’re the boss, people just do what you say. I often ask my CEOs: Are you being clear? Is this feedback or direction? Do you realize that if you don’t take vacation everyone in the organization will feel like it’s not okay if they do? If you don’t give the context for a decision, people will fill in the blanks on their own. It is an awkward transition for people who aren’t comfortable sharing their personal side so I try to help by sharing examples such as my own experiences or someone else’s, through a story, interview, podcast, book etc. so they can see the positive outcome of opening up. The more you are willing to give to your organization the more they will be willing to give back to you…A lot of CEOs think they’re supposed to have all the answers but a big reason people join companies is to help you figure them out. It’s okay to not have the answers but you have to say: I don’t know what happens next but I think all of you are smarter than me and I’m asking for your help and feedback. The only way you can get people to be vulnerable is to do it yourself.”