It’s never easy to take a hard look at yourself and be honest in your assessment. We all want to think that we are pretty good people, overall, that we are smart and friendly and caring and well liked. It’s not fun to admit our weaknesses, to acknowledge our flaws and to unearth our vulnerabilities.
But if we don’t know what makes us tick – if we don’t know who we really are – how can we possibly know how to interact with other people in the most positive way possible? How can we hope to be good, empathetic leaders, if we are incapable of understanding ourselves?
In his article of the same name, author Michael McKinney provides the “12 Keys to Greater Self-Awareness” as follows:
"Here are twelve keys to greater self-awareness:
- Stop blaming others for your choices. It’s you.
- Take a personality assessment to help you gain some perspective.
- Get feedback from as many significant people in your life as you can. This can be uncomfortable for both you and them, but it is the fastest method for gaining a better picture of yourself. (Make them feel safe. It's a big, unknown risk for them!)
- Get a coach or mentor. They don't have to know more than you. They just have to see you in action and help you to be a better you. You're not as hard to figure out (complicated) as you would like to think.
- Understand that your biggest irritations look a lot like you.
- Look beneath your behavior to reveal your assumptions and filters. They dictate how you see yourself and others and impact how you relate to them.
- Look at your roadblocks. Learn to separate facts from your interpretations of them.
- Analyze your interactions. A lot of negative interactions signal a selfish approach to life.
- Reflect daily on your behavior. Ask questions like: How do I handle difficulties? What do I think or do when I don’t get my own way? How adaptive am I? Can I control my emotions? Do I tend to say what I’m thinking when I’m thinking it? Do I judge other people and create conflict? How do others relate to me?
- Organize your thoughts in a journal. It is one of the best ways to capture what is going on around you and inside you. Make a note of the causal remarks people make about you.
- Read books and go to seminars that help you rethink your assumptions and address your problem areas and blind spots.
- Be careful what you say. Words mean a lot. Your language reflects your thinking and attitudes."
I didn’t say this journey would be easy. In fact, sometimes, it’s downright hard. I don’t like admitting when I’m wrong or when I’ve handled something badly.
But… the benefits outweigh the pain, I promise. Being brutally honest with yourself, truly getting to know who you are, will only benefit your relationships with others. And that doesn’t just mean your working relationships – good self-awareness will lead to more positive relationships in every area of your life. It’s worth the pain of self-discovery. I promise! Just give it a go and see for yourself!
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
- Leo Tolstoy
When you are looking in the mirror, you are looking at the problem. But, remember, you are also looking at the solution.
As long as you think you're green, you'll grow. As soon as you think you're ripe, you'll rot.
- Scott Horton