Who are you? How do you come across to others? Is your perception of yourself the way others see you? Why do you behave the way you do?
In the aggregate, these questions go to this fundamental issue: How self-aware are you?
Here’s a thoughtful definition of self-awareness: Self-awareness is an honest understanding of your own values, desires, thought patterns, motivations, goals and ambitions, emotional responses, strengths and weaknesses, and effect on others. This awareness takes years to fully develop, requires commitment, and is supplemented by others’ feedback.
Why it’s important
You can’t solve a problem you don’t know you have. Lack of self-awareness impedes every interaction, and is especially critical to your business success.
Michael E. Frisina, author of Influential Leadership: Change Your Behavior, Change Your Organization, Change Health Care, observed: Once developed and practiced regularly, self-awareness enables you to manage your behavior, improve your interactions and relationships, and gain or increase your influence.
At a very basic level, understanding whether you are an introvert or an extrovert explains much of how you feel and relate to others. It’s equally important to consider the personality type of others. An introverted prospect will predictably respond much differently than an extroverted one.
Few advisors are aware of the importance of how these very different personalities interact.
Being self-aware also helps you create achievable goals and generally leads to “greater personal and interpersonal success.”
How to build self-awareness
I find it helpful to think of our brains as a multi-lane highway. Most of our travel is in the center lane. Because of heavy use, the center lane becomes grooved and we remain in it, unless there is a compelling reason to move out of it.
For many, we “are what we are.” We don’t think about who we are and why we react the way we do, even when our “normal” behavior causes problems. Our brain is stuck in the center lane, causing us to engage in unthinking, repetitive behavior. Even when we want to change, we revert to the well-worn center lane.
Becoming self-aware requires us to question why we feel as we do and why we react to certain situations in a predictable way.
You can find a number of helpful suggestions for increasing your self-awareness here.
Stop and reflect
Self-awareness is really about self-reflection. It’s a willingness to examine our feelings and emotions and to challenge the status quo.
Maybe it’s time to switch lanes.
Resource of the week
Few books have impacted me (an introvert) as much as Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain.