“You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self, to live out your purpose, and to do it courageously.”
As much as I enjoy taking time to reflect on myself, I also enjoy people watching. It’s a hobby I picked up during my years of constant traveling. You can learn so much about people from the most common interactions. I would watch from my table as people spoke rudely to their waitresses. I watched as men neglected to give their subway seats up to pregnant women. Of course, I watched many random acts of kindness as well. While all of these different incidents allowed me insight into what each of these people were like, it also made me realize something else. I realized that most people lacked a sense of self-awareness.
Self-awareness is developing a deep and true understanding of yourself—your motivations, your needs, your core beliefs. Self-awareness means understanding your strengths and weaknesses, and how the combination of all these components makes you into a unique individual. In turn, self-awareness effects how you interact with other unique individuals. It’s the idea of how you perceive yourself vs. how you are perceived.
In understanding what self-awareness is, it is clear to see its importance in personal relationships. As Bruce Lee once noted, “To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person.” Knowing and understanding yourself and how you operate better helps you to understand how other people relate to you. It allows you to take control of the narrative of your interactions. You project certain qualities at certain times so that those around you get a certain message, and based on this message, they will react. Honesty is important to self-awareness, as false projections lead to deception. Remember that your authentic self will eventually shine through, so it is best to be prepared.
It may surprise you to learn that self-awareness is not just important to your personal life. Self-awareness has been revealed as an important skill to professionals across all industries. In 2014, Forbes revealed the results of a study on the relationship between the self-awareness of leaders of public companies and organizational financial performance. The results noted that leaders who knew their strengths were able to assert them appropriately and to their advantage. Awareness of their weaknesses prevented them from rearing their heads at inopportune moments that could prove costly. They noted that self-aware individuals were perceived as more credible and were better respected.
Becoming more self-aware may seem like an overwhelming task, but with the right steps, you will be able to accomplish this. Some exercises in increasing self-awareness include:
Whether you seek to gain better control of your personal relationships or you wish to take the corporate world by storm, self-awareness is a key skill to master. We must all take time to take inventory of ourselves. It won’t always be easy. Sometimes we will have to acknowledge hard truths and answer complex questions, but it is a storm worth weathering. Lao Tzu once wrote “Quietly go to work on your own self-awareness. If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself.” Regardless of your goal, the first step is within yourself.