Know Yourself

To get the most out of your mentoring relationships, it’s important to consider: who you are, what you value, and how you work best.

Getting to know yourself is an intentional, ongoing process that is critical to revisit throughout your career. The following tools and resources are offered as a guide for self-reflection.



Craft Your Personal Definition of Success

Mentorship can promote career and life success, but as we know, definitions of success are personal and multifaceted. One of the most important first steps in your self-reflection process is to determine what success means precisely for you. The Harvard Business Review article Success That Lasts, offers a practical, easy-to-use model. 

Learn More About The Success that Lasts Model

After interviewing and surveying hundreds of successful professionals and executives, authors Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson identified four components that they hypothesize are necessary for “real, enduring success”: happiness, achievement, significance, and legacy. According to their model, those who are successful embody all four categories regularly.

To craft your own definition of success, watch the video below, then click on the button to download and fill in the associated worksheet. In the video, Fran Grodstein, ScD, professor of internal medicine at Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Rush Medical College, and director of Career Catalyst, explains how to craft your personal definition of success using the Success that Lasts model. 

Additional Considerations for Academic Careers

If you are considering an academic career, promotion criteria are another metric that likely factors into your definition of success. Understanding promotion metrics can help guide where and how you use your time most effectively.  The Academic Promotion Criteria (PDF) document outlines the promotion metrics for the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard University as well as external institutions and offers questions to guide discussions with your mentors about academic promotions.


Assess Your Strengths and Values

In addition to your personal definition of success, it is important to take time to reflect on your personal strengths, preferences, tendencies, and core values. Understanding these aspects of yourself can help you prioritize your time, set goals, seek out support, and navigate your career development. To get started, consider taking one of the assessments below.

Please note that some of the activities have an associated fee. Wherever possible, we have provided a free alternative version of the assessment or tool. The assessments that have an associated cost are reputable so we chose to include them as options.

Personal Strengths Assessment Tools

CliftonStrengths® (formerly StrengthsFinder®)
Tool to assess your natural strengths and talents: The assessment consists of 177 paired statements, which allows you to choose which one best describes you. It takes about an hour to complete; there is an associated fee.

Tool to assess your personal strengths: This assessment includes 100 questions, giving you the option to slide a scale to indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with a statement. It takes about 15 minutes to complete; a portion of the results are available for free.

Personality Preference and Cognitive Style Assessment Tools

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®)
Tool to determine your personality type: The assessment consists of 93 questions; it takes about an hour. There is an associated fee. 

There are several free variations of MBTI® available online. While this version may not be as comprehensive as the original, 16Personalities offers a similar experience. 

FourSight® Thinking Profile
Tool to assess your problem-solving preferences and enhance your creativity. The assessment consists of 36 questions; it takes about 20 minutes. There is an associated fee. 

Tool to assess dimensions of your personality. The assessment consists of 80 questions; it takes about 20 minutes. There is an associated fee.

Personal Values Assessment Tools

The Good Project at Harvard Graduate School of Education
A comprehensive website that includes free, downloadable toolkits, activities, case studies, vignettes, and other resources that center on the idea of committing to good, engaging work. 

The Good Project Value Sort
A free, digital card sort exercise that helps you to reflect on which values are most important to you.

Implicit Bias Assessment Tool

Implicit Association Test (IAT)
An important part of self-reflection is to recognize and address the unconscious biases and prejudices that we bring to relationships. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is a collection of free assessments that surface unconscious bias in a number of topics. 


Prepare for Career Development Conversations

Getting to know yourself helps you articulate the value you bring to a mentoring relationship and advocate for the expertise and support you need to excel.

Our Preparing for Career Development Conversations document is a practical tool for sharing and applying your self-reflection. This tool guides productive career development conversations between mentees and mentors at any stage of their career.

How to use this tool: 

  • At the start of a new mentoring relationship (with a developmental or skills mentor, or manager/PI) to share your current work and set mutual expectations and goals.
  • In advance of formal annual meetings, such as with a division chief or department chair, to highlight your achievements and advocate for resources.
  • At a set frequency (e.g., bi-annually, annually) with a mentor(s) to reassess expectations and to stay on track to reach your goals.

Throughout the document, “Checkpoints” provide space for mentees and mentors to reflect, spark new ideas, and document decisions. The “Goal Setting” section allows mentees to document short- and long-term goals and advocate for resources. We recommend returning to this document and reviewing it together with mentors at a set frequency to track progress and reassess goals and expectations.

 Preparing for Career Development Conversations Document