Forced Self-Reflection: Consider These Questions

Forced Self-Reflection: Consider These Questions

Karen Gross 08/02/2018 6

I was recently asked by Denis Zekic  (founder of CeeDoo) to answer a set of written questions which he would then review for content and length. Thereafter, I would answer (edited as needed) the same questions orally on my cellphone using the video function; then those answers would be edited down and posted on LinkedIn. His idea was to showcase or share the voices of Top Voices on LinkedIn.

Here is what was produced:

I think there is real value in this exercise -- for the person answering and I am not responding to the "publicity" factor that comes with people seeing me and learning about me.

I was struck by the particular questions posed (and some of the answers did not appear on the tape given the length of my answers!). And, there is value in writing one's answers down. I plan to repeat the exercise for myself -- as a way to insuring that I remain true to my North Star and to allow me to reflect on what I am doing, how I am doing and why I am doing (or not doing) this and that. I have no need for the video answers -- at least for me, writing the answers is good enough to sense whether I am focussed and whether I need to change my approach, my language, my goals, my plans.

How often will I answer the questions again -- perhaps in three months or six months. That seems about right to me.

It struck me, too, that perhaps others, including current and former leaders, may benefit from this exercise -- which can be a very private exercise. Recent politics and activities on campuses tell us that. To that end, here are some of the questions Denis gave to me that I think are particularly important to answer. I did some editing for clarifications. Yes, there are questions that can be answered fliply or without thought. Or, they can be answered in ways that allow one to turn inward, even for those of us who spend hours in the public eye.

  • Who are you?
  • What's your mission (goal or purpose)?
  • Name one of the problems you seek to solve (a problem where people are now hurt absent a solution).
  • How are you different from others (who do work similar to yours)?
  • For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
  • What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about (in public or private)?
  • What's your plan for the next 12 months?
  • Say something (or write something) that can be shared with others and in which you believe.

Give it a whirl. It might be clarifying in important ways. At least it was to me. And a special thanks to Denis for asking the questions and then requiring written answers.

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  • Sameer Khan

    Thanks for the insights !!!

  • John Mann

    Interesting interview

  • Chris Nilsson

    That was a decent interview

  • Karen Gross

    In reply to: Chris Nilsson

    Better than “indecent!”

  • Ivan Right

    Congrats for being a LinkedIn Top Voice, just noticed that, what an achievement!

  • Mark Lally

    What's your mission has become such a frequently asked question in interviews. I expected more creative and thought provoking questions however your answers were on point.

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Karen Gross

Higher Education Expert

Karen is an educator and an author. Prior to becoming a college president, she was a tenured law professor for two plus decades. Her academic areas of expertise include trauma, toxic stress, consumer finance, overindebtedness and asset building in low income communities. She currently serves as Senior Counsel at Finn Partners Company. From 2011 to 2013, She served (part and full time) as Senior Policy Advisor to the US Department of Education in Washington, DC. She was the Department's representative on the interagency task force charged with redesigning the transition assistance program for returning service members and their families. From 2006 to 2014, she was President of Southern Vermont College, a small, private, affordable, four-year college located in Bennington, VT. In Spring 2016, she was a visiting faculty member at Bennington College in VT. She also teaches part-time st Molly Stark Elementary School, also in Vt. She is also an Affiliate of the Penn Center for MSIs. She is the author of adult and children’s books, the most recent of which are titled Breakaway Learners (adult) and  Lucy’s Dragon Quest. Karen holds a bachelor degree in English and Spanish from Smith College and Juris Doctor degree (JD) in Law from Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law.


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