What do translations of academic research into teaching tools look like when they are at their best? Reflected Best Self Exercise™ facilitators, authors, and users have been creating and collecting insight to answer this question since the 2003 release of the RBSE™. We will never know the absolute answer, but with time and trial, we are always learning more.
In January 2011, both fresh and seasoned facilitators and users of the RBSE™ convened for a special mini-conference the day before the biennial POS Conference to teach each other about the RBSE™ at its best. I listened, and mined the conversation for insights.
Some insights I gleaned were obvious inspiration for the second edition RBSE™. For example, many of the practitioners did not use, or even know about, the complement workbook, Bringing Your Reflected Best Self to Life (BYRBSTL), yet had questions about how to translate the creation of a reflected best-self portrait into action. The second edition of the RBSE™ combines the 2003 RBSE™ with the “best of” Bringing Your Reflected Best Self to Life. For those who are familiar with the original documents, note that Phase 1 of the second edition will draw from the original RBSE™ to create a reflected best-self portrait and Phase 2 will draw from BYRBSTL, where the participant creates an action plan.
Sometimes inspiration preceded design insight. For example, consultant and RBSE™ facilitator, Shawn Quinn told a powerful story about one of his executive students receiving only three best-self stories instead of the recommended 30. Shawn’s worry about the low was unfounded. The student was completely transformed by those three stories because, Shawn later learned, these stories comprised the first bits of positive feedback the student had heard in decades. I was moved by this story but did not immediately understand why it was potentially relevant for the redesign. Months later, in a conversation with a friend about the power of just one of her reflected best-self stories, I realized the lesson from Shawn’s experience: each story is a gift unto itself and worth individual attention. The second edition of the RBSE™ has a new step instructing participants to analyze individual stories as well as the stories in aggregate.
Sometimes experience and testing informed the redesign. Laura Morgan Roberts, who helped create the RBSE™ and masterfully facilitates thousands’ of uses, has her participants also write stories of themselves at their best. This improvised step enriched the experience of creating the reflected best-self portrait. The second edition of the RBSE™ has a new step instructing participants to write their own best-self stories prior to analyzing the stories they received from others.
Other important updates were meant to:
- Highlight unique attributes of the RBSE™, such as the use of stories, an emphasis on strengths exclusively, and solicitation of respondents from all contexts of the participant’s life
- Provide more instruction on the analysis of best-self stories
- Honor wisdom gained by facilitators and users over the years since first publication
The second edition of the RBSE™ is going through its final revisions and will be available at www.centerforpos.org by mid-August 2011. To those with whom I’ve worked, thank you for your stories of the RBSE™ at its best.