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What does it mean being self aware?

What is self awareness? Can self awareness be trained? Does self awareness make one remarkable? What steps can one take to become self aware?

You have heard me advocate self awareness through various posts. In fact, it is one of the strongest aspects which a leader should posses. The paradox is this: until about a year ago I was lacking this trait, but only a year ago, I recognized I was actually the cause of this deficit. How did this happen? Why did this happen? How has realizing and changing it improved my life?

All great questions to consider on such a deep topic. You may be wondering what is so important about self awareness. Those of you who are asking that are either not self aware or have yet to find value in self awareness.

First let’s examine what self awareness is. According to Wikipedia, self awareness is the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals. It is not the same thing as conscious. The difference lies in your awareness of your environment and others.

Okay, maybe that is a bit deep so let me deconstruct it.

Being self aware means that you can restrain yourself before you react to any situation. It means you can step aside and question what is actually happening — having an inner dialogue about the situation.

Self awareness is understanding how others feel, and how your actions impact everyone and everything around you. It is reciprocating a kiss to someone and being aware what the other person likes. Knowing why you’re grateful for the things you’re grateful for. Understanding the route to your happiness, and how to replicate it.

It is creating the right environmental conditions in which you are most productive.

I get cranky if I don’t eat something for a few hours. My best and most productive time is about 30–45 minutes after I eat something.

Self awareness is finding the connectedness between your habits and their results. Knowing the amount of sleep you need to be well rested and effective the next day

Your limitations and possibilities. Studying the sub context of a current situation.

When I walked into Lush yesterday, a soap company, I asked the store clerk why two bottles of the same kind of soap were a shade different color. She hastily made the assumption that one of the bottles had more of a particular ingredient. I asked her why she thought that.

She looked at me in awe, and couldn’t give me a reason. She said “I never even thought to ask why.”

From that experience I took away three lessons:

  1. When someone makes a claim about something, first ask yourself if you agree or disagree with it. Then ask why, was it because they hold an authoritative or friendly position, or was it the power of suggestion or social influence at work?
  2. People make assumptions yet they don’t consider why they make them.
  3. If there is truth behind what is said, whose truth is it?

As you can see here taking into consideration the things you are observing everyday and questioning any assumptions you may have is one step towards become more in tune with yourself. That is what self awareness is primarily about.

I keep a daily learning journal. What do I mean by this? Everyday I write down timeless lessons that can serve me at any point in my life.

Everyday there is something that you will learn. This may sound like a total cliché. I promise you it is true. The only way to actually discover the lessons is if you are actively seeking them.

Okay, so that’s just a few examples of self awareness and how it has helped me, I am sure by now you are starting to get the picture as to what self awareness is and how it can serve you. Let’s see what others are saying about it.

Inc., Fast company, Forbes, Entrepreneur and many other prominent publications sensibly elucidate how important it is to have self awareness and not having it could mean the end of your career. In fact, people are said to be narcissist who lack self awareness.

“A real narcissist is dissociated from his or her true self.” Drs. Drew Pinsky and S. Mark Young.

In the article published in December 2001 in the Harvard Business Review written by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie Mckee titled Primal Leadership; The authors conclude that:

“Bringing them into awareness was a crucial step toward changing them. As they paid more attention to situations while listening to a colleague, coaching soccer, or talking on the phone to someone who was distraught- all became cues that stimulate someone to break old habits and try new responses.”

This excerpt from Inc. magazine, Ilya Pozin founder of Pluto.tv says:

If you are never pushed to the point where your weaknesses are exposed, you won’t ever have the opportunity to become stronger. Same goes with your ideas and plans. Instead of trying to lead others to support your answers and decisions, ask them to prove you wrong.”

Self awareness is one of the cornerstones for emotional intelligence, which will require a whole other topic of discussion, maybe two. EQ will prevail and will be more important or actually is becoming more important than IQ in todays business environment.

I am not perfect, I will never be perfect, news flash neither will you. But we can do our best to be great. Work on your self awareness and observe your life flourish.

How can you become more self aware?

It takes practice, and mindfulness. Being inquisitive helps shape the foundation into becoming self aware.

Here are some questions to help you get started:

How do you feel right at this very moment?

How would you feel if your best friend befriends someone you dislike?

In what condition or situation are you the happiest?

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

If there was one thing you could do for the rest of your life, what would that be, and why did you choose it?

Thank you for reading this post. I will be writing more about this topic because I feel there is more value I could give you. Until then, drop me a comment and let me know your point of view on self awareness.

To be continued….

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Originally published at karasingroup.com on September 20, 2016.