career, personal development
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Knowing thyself through Johari window

These few weeks, following some decisions made on upcoming changes to my career, I have been doing some reflections on my personal and professional development over the last few years. One of the things that I wanted to learn more and to be more intentional about going forward, is my personal branding.

Where I am working right now is a large MNC with more than 10,000 staff around the world. Our teams are huge and we work with people from different time zones, with each function led and supported by dozens of people. My role is primarily supportive, but a linchpin in many of the projects around the region. Yet, I feel like I am drowning among the many colleagues I have and lack what corporate management loves to call ‘visibility’.

I am not the most ambitious when it comes to my career goals, but I certainly don’t want to remain just another colleague/team member/staff. I feel that having a strong personal brand helps people to identify better with me and the values I stand for (i.e. environmental sustainability and the arts), allows me to differentiate myself among the rest and engineers opportunities relevant to who I am to come my way. For example, if I call myself a writer and that is a big signifier to my brand, surely that would raise the interest of say, publishers, who might help open doors to the industry.

My week-long pursuit to learn to develop a personal branding was an insightful journey to discover about myself. The Johari window is useful to learn about how my friends and colleagues perceive me and to evaluate whether there are gaps between what I think of myself and what others think of me.

The Johari window was invented by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in the 1950s as a model for mapping personality awareness. By describing yourself from a fixed list of (56) adjectives, then asking your friends and colleagues to describe you from the same list, a grid of overlap and difference can be built up. They are categorised into: Arena, Blind Spot, Facade and Unknown.

The list of adjectives are:

Johari-Adjectives -

This is a useful tool to get started on the Johari window test, but take note that the result is disclosed to everyone that you share the link with at the end.

My result showed some rather interesting discoveries. Not knowing your own strengths – and not maximising them and playing them to your advantage – is also a blind spot. I realise that I do have quite a few qualities that spoke to my friends and colleagues that I was unaware of. The top 5 qualities in the known-to-others-but-not-known-to-self quadrant all received more votes than my known-to-others-and-known-to-self quadrant (only 4 attributes!). I guess my self-awareness is quite poor, which is why this Johari window came to be so helpful to me.


‘Reflective’, which commanded 8 out of 18 responses, was a surprise to me. Yes, I reflect upon myself a lot and I do daily journaling and gratitude exercises, but I did not expect that to have come through to my friends as they are highly private and personal endeavours. I suppose, though, that no action is hidden. What you do, in private and in public, makes who you are and how you carry yourself.

A friend raised an interesting point: would people who are closer to you choose the attributes that you are more likely to choose, knowing you – your inner thoughts, your deepest motives – better? This was really intriguing because when my boyfriend did this (separately, he was not part of my respondent list), he picked an adjective that no one else picked, that I chose for myself! (It was ‘modest’.)

Some actions I will be taking with the new discoveries I made:

  • Playing to the strengths I have already established in the eyes of my friends and colleagues
  • Work on what I want to show others more (i.e. spontaneity)

The Johari window is by no means the best available personality assessment out there. For instance, the list of adjectives is primarily positive and it is limited (and perhaps repetitive: bold/brave). Its intention is not to help build a personal brand, but to understand how you see yourself versus how other people perceive you.

It is one of the easiest tools to set up and the least demanding of my respondents, which I appreciate and think is sufficient for a quick personal brand audit.

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