"To be a better you, you need to understand who you are and how you got where you are today."(1) Do you have a personal timeline? Are there are certain, specific events (or non-events) that have shaped your life?
Did you have a teacher or coach who pushed you to new limits, gave you a break, or shared words of wisdom never forgotten? Were there struggles or difficulties you overcame like getting cut from a team or beating illness? Are there major achievements like winning a tournament or setting a personal best? How did your first job, first love, firstborn, and first loss influence your life?
Each major event in our lives shapes our character. They define the paradigms or principles by which we live. These life lessons provide us with key takeaways to apply to the next major life event and day-to-day activities. David Novak writes, "It’s crucial for every great leader to know who they are and where they’ve been."(2)
In chapter two of his new book, David Novak provides three steps (be yourself, know yourself, and grow yourself) and two exercises (personal timeline and 3x5 exercise) to improve oneself. The personal timeline "is an invitation to take a hard look at your past and think about the events that have most deeply shaped you, your values, and your goals."(3) The 3x5 exercise answers the questions, "What I am today? How can I be even better tomorrow?" (4)
(1) David Novak, Taking People With You, Kindle edition, Location 587
(2) Ibid, Location 581
(3) Ibid, Location 583
(4) Ibid, Location 606
Image taken from Location 583 and Mr. Novak's timeline included in his book as an example.