Having thought long and hard about what I would consider to be one of the most critical attributes for success I keep coming back to Self Awareness. I really believe that it is the starting point for any successful career, a better understanding of ourselves building on our strengths and identifying areas were we must make incremental improvements.
I think the brilliant Gary Vaynerchuck captured it best: ‘Self-awareness is being able to accept your weaknesses while focusing all of your attention on your strengths. The moment you decide to accept your shortcomings and bet entirely on your strengths, things will change’.
The dictionary definition of self awareness is ‘conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings’.
The ability to understand why we do things, the way we react, what truly drives us, how we control our emotions and behaviours in the present moment will ensure we focus and manage our thoughts on most important objectives and goals.
Many studies have shown that self-awareness is a critical factor in the success of many industry and business leaders. Daniel Goleman (author of Emotional Intelligence) believes that this is the key corenestone to Emotional Intelligence – a very interesting read if you have time – would certainly recommend it.
I think part of the problem as to why we aren’t more self-aware is that for the majority of the time we just aren’t there to monitor or observe our own behaviour. We don’t really appreciate what is going on around us or indeed inside of ourselves.
The good news is that there are a whole bunch of techniques to try that can improve our ability to be more self-aware. I’ve listed five techniques that I feel are worthwhile trying and can make a difference – like everything you have to pursue and keep practicing but even picking one and repeating it over and over will realise benefits.
- Capture your thoughts in a notebook or journal. Before you go to sleep at night write down those things that went well or didn’t, your feelings, your experiences through the day and reflect on what you may or done differently or would do again.
- Ask for some ‘honest’ feedback from close friends, colleagues or family. You may be uncomfortable with this but believe me it works if you want to get a sense of how you may be perceived – certainly much easier to hear it from those you trust than those you don’t really know.
- Download Headspace and practice mindfulness. One of the best things I’ve done in recent months is to start spending 10-15mins each day practicing mindfulness – empty your mind of everything – sit in a quiet room or take time and observe what’s going on inside and around you. There are so many benefits to this – one being to clear your mind (will deal with this in future blogs) but will help you achieve laser focus.
- Personality Tests. Whilst this may seem like a management technique or team building exercise having some indication after answering a series of direct questions and then considering the answers provides an insight into the way you think and feel about things. Myers-Briggs is one, but there are many others….
- Goals & Priorities. Write down your priorities for the day, week, month ahead and think about how you will achieve these based on your strengths and weaknesses – what needs attention and what do you need to be aware. Track and monitor your progress based on your personal traits in addition to your activities to see how you can continue to grow your character over time.
I’ll cover more on self-awareness in the future but simply working on how you observe and monitor your emotions and behaviours in different situations will dramatically improve your chances of success in the future.