Have you ever been told you lack self awareness? If so, it’s a great gift!
But wait. That sounds like a putdown. How could it be a gift?
The biggest obstacle to self awareness is…ourself. We have blindspots and don’t see what we lack and what we’re doing too much. One of the ways we address this is to get feedback from others.
Feedback is what real leaders crave
When people tell us things about our self–especially things we don’t want to hear–it’s an alert, a wake-up call. They may be wrong. Seriously wrong. But what if they are right? In either case, it’s time for us to be honest and take a look.
A key part of self awareness is being able to tell the truth to ourselves.
I had a brief conversation with my teenage son recently. I asked him what he thought self awareness was. “Telling the truth to yourself,” he said.
I asked him, “Do you tell the truth about yourself?”
He replied, “Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t.”
I immediately shot back, “That’s self awareness!”
One place this really matters
Do you know what job is ideal for you? Most people don’t. We may know what we would like more of and what we have enjoyed (or hated) in the past, but that’s not the same as knowing the ideal job for us. Many people come to the conclusion, “there is no ideal job–all have tradeoffs.”
Let’s set that aside for a minute and consider the difference between a good and a bad job. How would you tell the difference? What would make a job good or bad for you? If you aren’t sure how to answer, let me share my thoughts first.
I’m practical, and a good job would be one that pays well. It would also challenge me and keep me engaged because I get to learn new things (that’s one of my driving forces). A bad job is one that doesn’t pay me very well and also doesn’t reward learning new things or bringing knowledge to bear on new problems and situations. A bad job is also one where I have to listen to a boss who knows less than me but used their positional power to limit my chances to grow and get recognition.
I know for sure that my definition of a good and a bad job doesn’t fit for a good number of people. I’ve coached hundreds and I know that the things that motivate people are different and come in unique combinations.
If you have good self awareness, you know the difference between a good and a bad job for you. In fact, you should know what job is ideal for you.
Tools that help you gain self awareness
Not everyone has access to good feedback from others. It is something you need and can learn to access, but the process takes time and commitment. While you’re learning that, there are tools that can dramatically shorten the learning curve for gaining more self awareness.
Here are some things you can learn about yourself with just a few minutes of time and a little investment of money.
How do you prefer to communicate, solve problems, take in information? These point to your behavior style and there are many varieties and combinations of how fast we like to move or how much we like to talk or socialize with others. Likewise, we are wired differently in terms of how directly we want to jump into problem-solving, and the level of structure, order or process we prefer in getting things done (some like a lot, others hate structure imposed on them and some need a balance somewhere in the middle). In less than half an hour you can answer all of these questions and quite a few more to understand your own behavior style as well as the primary modes that shape other people’s behavior too.
Do you know why you like to do the things you do, what drives your behavior? Research shows that there are a dozen driving forces that shape our attraction to some pursuits and our avoidance of others.
I mentioned some of my own driving forces in talking about what makes a job good or bad for me. Some people are very tuned into their surroundings and either motivated or discouraged by the shape and quality of their environment while others take a strictly functional approach to these things. One driving force is being of service and support to others while another is collaborating on projects or tasks and avoiding the spotlight. Again, in less than half an hour you can readily learn about all 12 driving forces and which ones give you a lift and which deflate you. That is valuable information to know about yourself as well as understanding the main drivers for others around you.
Are you good at understanding other people and what makes them unique, or are you more of a systems thinker that sees networks and schematics and the laws of science at work all around you? Are you wired for practicality or maybe much more in tune with your inner self and your intrinsic value? At a deeper level our thinking patterns and judgment shape how we see things and what we value.
Where you place value and the acuity with which you see all different levels of value is something that is initially harder to understand conceptually. Surprisingly, with the right tool it isn’t that difficult to get an accurate reading of your own thinking patterns and acumen with someone trained in the process, and it doesn’t take years of therapy or self-discovery.
If you’ve spent any time around me or watched my videos, you know that I emphasize emotional intelligence a lot. In many ways I see it as a master key for unlocking your own potential. In the last three decades, emotional intelligence (or EQ) has emerged as an even stronger predictor of success and the ability to cope at work than your intellectual abilities or intelligence quotient (IQ).
The five domains of emotional intelligence worth exploring include self awareness, self regulation (or self control), motivation, social awareness and interpersonal skills. An EQ assessment tool can quickly help you map your relative abilities currently in these five domains so you can set your development priorities depending on your goals at work and in life.
The bottom line
You can rapidly improve your self awareness with the right tools and attention to your own development. If you know what drives you and why you’re inspired to work hard in some situations, you can get the right fuel for your goals. Combine that with knowledge of how you do your best work, your communication preferences and what lies behind your decision-making and judgment, you have a powerful advantage in focusing time on things that matter to you, that you naturally do well.
To get details on how to increase your self-awareness through the right tools, start by going here and let us know you’re interested in our coaching process which includes individual short-term and longer term group options.