If you were to score your level of self-awareness using a scale of 1-10, what score would you give? And if you’ve said 7 (the comfortable number) decide if you’re leaning to a 6 or an 8!
Most people believe they are self aware. Self-awareness is a truly rare quality: in a research study published in Harvard Business Review in 2018, it was estimated 10-15% of the people studied actually fit the criteria.
When we are self-aware we are more confident and more creative. We make sounder decisions, build stronger relationships, communicate more effectively. We’re better workers, get more promotions, we’re more effective leaders and we’re less likely to lie, cheat and steal.
Self-awareness goes hand-in-hand with living out the best version of you.
A definition of self-awareness: ‘I know beliefs, assumptions and past experiences can limit my view’.
When you consciously practice self-awareness you take full responsibility for everything that happens in your life, this is empowering on so many levels and at the same time can shake you to core as you realise how unaware you’ve been on things going on in your life, the lives of your loved ones and the world as a whole. The feeling is uncomfortable and so it should be. What’s empowering about becoming more self-aware YOU then can change your behaviour to make a positive impact.
Self-awareness is like looking in a mirror of truth, all your values, beliefs surface and you can either choose not to look in this mirror, to live a lie (and what comes with it is guilt, low self-esteem, no growth) or live as your highest self and be true the person you know you can be.
There are 2 types of awareness and each have a powerful impact on how you can increase your self-awareness:
Internal self-awareness is how clearly we see our own values, passions, aspirations, fit with our environment, reactions (including thoughts, feelings, behaviours, strengths and weaknesses) and impact on others. We connect this type of awareness to higher job and relationship satisfaction, personal and social control and happiness.
External self-awareness means understanding how other people view us, the research shows that people who know how others see them are more skilled at showing empathy and taking others perspectives.
The four self-awareness archetypes by Dr Tasha Eurich shares what this actually looks like in real life.
Take a moment to consider where you fit into this archetype, this could be a good opportunity to pin point some actions for increasing your own self-awareness.
Are you someone that doesn’t seem to learn from experiences? That you keep doing the same things over and over again not reaching new levels of progress or the results you feel you deserve? Studies show that not everyone does learn from experience, being highly experienced can keep us from doing our ‘homework’ such as seeking disconfirming evidence and questioning our assumptions. Experience can also lead to a false sense of confidence about our performance as we are more likely to overestimate our skills and abilities.
What you can do to help you learn from your experiences is seek frequent critical feedback from your peers (at work your boss, employees, the board) outside of work seek feedback from the people in your life that have your best interests in mind and are willing to tell you the truth.
Email 5 of your most trusted friends and ask them what they view as your strengths and weaknesses. This simple task will help you gain awareness on how you’re seen through the eyes of others. The key to this is to make sure you don’t overreact to what they say as this is based on opinion but to use it as information to learn from.
Another way to do this at work is to ask for feedback on your performance, for example if you have a goal to be better at public speaking, ask your most trusted colleagues to give you their feedback after your next presentation or team meeting and use the feedback to help you do better next time.
Journalling is a powerful way to learn more about yourself, however research shows people that self-reflect are actually less self-aware and report worse job satisfaction and wellbeing.
Do not throw away your journals just yet!..
The problem isn’t that self-reflection is ineffective, it’s that most people are doing it wrong. The most common question will ask themselves is ‘why’. We ask this when trying to understand our emotions (Why do I like this person when they treat me this way?’ or our behaviour (Why did I fly off the handle with my kids?) or our attitudes (Why am I so against this decision?)
Why has be proven to be an ineffective self-awareness questions.
What the research shows is that we simply don’t have access to many of the unconscious thoughts, feelings and motives we’re looking for, the knock on affect is we tend to make up answers that feel right or true but are actually often wrong.
Another negative effect of asking why – especially when trying to explain an undesired outcome – is that it opens the door to unproductive negative thoughts. Asking why often leads us to get caught in a negative spiral and explain ‘why’ by focusing on our fears, insecurities and shortcomings, rather that a more rational assessment of strengths and weaknesses. A result of this is self-analysers are more depressed and anxious.
If you’ve been using why to self-reflect – stop today and replace it with What. Asking What helps us stay objective, future-focused, and empowered to action on our new insights and perspectives.
‘Why didn’t I get that promotion’ to ‘What steps can I take in the future to do a better job?’
‘Why didn’t anyone do as I asked’ to ‘What others ways can I deliver this information?’
‘Why can’t I start my goals?’ to ‘What do I need to learn to take my first step?’
‘Why did I fall off track with my diet?’ to ‘What support system do I need in place to help me keep on track of my diet?’
What is delving deep, What is taking personal responsibility for your actions.
Remember your thoughts create your words, your words create your actions, your actions create your habits, your habits create your character.
Heidi Jones coaches high-flying career women to take action to balance their health, happiness and career goals. Join her New Free Online Healthy Lifestyle & High Flying Career 5 Day Challenge and learn the tools to help you take control of the controllable. Follow @heidi_jones_coaching or visit her website heidijonescoaching.com
Listen to: The Heidi Jones Coaching Podcast