SELF-AWARENESS: VAGUE CLICHÉ OR A KEY TO SUCCESS IN LEADERSHIP & LIFE? HOW CAN WE CULTIVATE IT?

December 6, 2019

We have all heard the expression ¨to love another; we must first love ourselves.¨ A similar parallel relates to Self-Awareness/Success. ¨To best lead ourselves and others through business and to engage in healthier relationships in our personal lives, we must first reflect properly and know ourselves.¨  

Sounds simple, right? We, of course, know ourselves very well, right? Who knows us better than us, right?

 

The truth is, we all should realize that people are prone to look at themselves in a way that often does not mirror reality. 

Why?

 

For a myriad of reasons (insecurity, ego, pride, image consciousness, arrogance, and other sometimes intentional and sometimes unintentional superficial personas). Our genetics, life experiences, emotional traumas, and personality styles all lend themselves to creating our view of ourselves and others. As we age and accumulate more life experiences and career advancement, one would think we become wiser and more understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

 

In some ways, for sure YES (business acumen and savvy increases, confidence usually grows as we age, usually a lesser tendency to panic under crisis, etc, etc.), but in other ways, it works the opposite. As time goes on, there is a tendency for people to become more set in their ways. Manifested by being less open to other viewpoints that contrast with their own, and less motivated to continue learning and seeking new information. In simple terms, too stubborn!

 

 

 

Here is a supporting finding from the study:

 

¨Studies have shown that people do not always learn from experience, that expertise does not help people root out false information, and that seeing ourselves as highly experienced can keep us from doing our homework, seeking dis-confirming evidence, and questioning our assumptions.¨ (Eurlich, 2018)

 

One extensive study on the subject found that even though most people believe they are self-aware, self-awareness is a truly rare quality. The estimate was only 10%–15% of the people studied fit the criteria.

 

This distortion can be detrimental to one’s success in business and also sabotage one’s relationships.

 

Research suggests several specific benefits derived from the practice of self-awareness. Including but is not limited to becoming more confident and creative, making sounder decisions, building stronger relationships, communicating more effectively, getting more promotions, becoming better leaders, and having more profitable businesses (Eurich, 2018).

 

WHAT EXACTLY IS SELF-AWARENESS?

 

Researchers have used different variations in their definitions of the term:

  1. ¨Our ability to monitor our inner world¨

  2. ¨A temporary state of self-consciousness¨

  3. ¨The difference between how we see ourselves and how others see us¨ (Eurich, 2018)

So with these variations of the term, we need to try to wrap it up into one consolidated meaning to garner a better understanding of the concept.

In a study conducted by Eurich and her team of researchers, which encompassed ten separate investigations and over 5,000 participants, two broad categories emerged, which better isolated in-depth the core meaning.

  1. Internal self-awareness – This is represented by how we see our values, passions, aspirations, fit with our environment, reactions (i.e., thoughts, feelings, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses) and impact on others. The results of the study indicated that internal self-awareness is associated with higher job and relationship satisfaction, personal and social control, and happiness, with a negative relationship to anxiety, stress, and depression.
     

  2. External self-awareness  - This is represented by one’s understanding of how others view us in terms of the same factors listed above (Eurich, 2018).

 

 

 

Another interesting finding from the study is that:

 

¨People who introspect are less self-aware and report worse job satisfaction and well-being. The reason cited is that As it turns out, “why” is a surprisingly ineffective self-awareness question. Research has shown that we simply do not have access to many of the unconscious thoughts, feelings, and motives we’re searching for. And because so much is trapped outside of our conscious awareness, we tend to invent answers that feel true but are often wrong.¨ (Eurich, 2018)

 

Conclusion

 

The study concluded with the following thoughts on how to cultivate this self-awareness ability: 

 

¨Leaders who focus on building both internal and external self-awareness, who seek honest feedback from loving critics, and who ask what instead of why can learn to see themselves more clearly — and reap the many rewards that increased self-knowledge delivers. And no matter how much progress we make, there’s always more to learn.¨ (Eurich, 2018)

 

As for myself, I work on making it a daily goal and practice of mine to combine my introspective view of myself with a healthy dose of feedback from others. I meditate on it and allow the positive to naturally seep in after I have conducted an objective, unemotional analysis of what I have learned from listening to others.

 

My friends, this approach has had a positive, transformational impact on my growth as a business owner and person. It has only served to strengthen my relationships with all who are important in my life. 

 

Reference:

T, Eurich. (2018, Jan 4). Managing Yourself: What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It. Harvard Business Review  Retrieved from http:// https://hbr.org/2018/01/what-self-awareness-really-is-and-how-to-cultivate-it?autocomplete=true

 

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