Tilt your umbrella.
“Know thyself” — Delphic Maxim
It rains in London, a lot.
Most people tackle the rain by carrying compact pop-up umbrellas that are really fun to open and generally do the job of keeping you dry between the tube station and your office.
Something I’ve observed on quite a few rainy commutes is that among the umbrella wielding commuter community, there are those who tilt their umbrella to allow other commuters to walk past them without fear of losing an eye and those who don’t.
Now I believe that for the most part, people are good, and that those that don’t tilt their umbrellas are not doing so out of any sort of malice or ill-will towards the rest of the commuter population, they don’t tilt simply because they are not self-aware enough to realise they are causing problems for the people around them.
Being aware of your actions, their effects and their implications is a skill that’s been invaluable to me in my career. Now I’m not for one second claiming to be some paradigm of self-awareness, and am nowhere near perfect, I’m just trying to get better all the time, and self-improvement is impossible without self-awareness
Here are some tips and examples that will help you become more self-aware, and I’m sure will help you be a better individual, and team member.
Write a manifesto
The main purpose in working on self-awareness is self improvement, so it makes sense to commit to a set of goals, an objective, or even just a different way of living. If you need some inspiration, here’s mine:
Take 10 minutes every day to self review, preferably while doing a mundane task like washing the dishes, doing laundry, or even working in the garden. These semi-meditative task allow you to quiet your body’s stimulus on you mind and let you take some time to review:
• How you performed
• What you could have done better
• What you’re proud of
• What you’d like to do differently tomorrow
Ask someone you work with, or a friend you can trust to be objective to critique you, listen and write down what they have to say so that you can take effective action. If possible check back in with this person every 6 months or so, and review their critique against their previous feedback.
Keep a prediction tracker
We all have ‘BIG’ decisions to make in life, either at work or at home. A while back I read this article in the Harvard Business Review, and it recommends keeping track of big decisions that you make, and your predictions of what will happen 9 months later. By doing so you’re able to accurately asses your decision making ability and will be able to understand where improvements need to be made in order to grow your trust in your own ability.
I’ve put together a really simple template using Google Sheets for you to make a copy of here:
It’s important to remember that self-awareness and self-improvement should be active tasks, don’t lose yourself in introspection, take action, and if you have the time please let me know how you’re getting on. If you have any of your own tips or suggestions on self-improvement please drop me a line, I’d love to hear them.
As with all of my posts, there is a recommended reading section below.
After the First World War, a new generation of aristocracy emerged that were indulgent, promiscuous, and adventurous. This brilliant satire of Waugh’s is excellent entertainment with some very literal and sombre insights into 1920’s London.