One of the biggest skills you can work on and keep fresh is self-awareness. It’s a component that makes empathy and compassion easier to lead with. It tempers reactive behaviors. It also makes you a natural stand out amongst peers who lack self-awareness or emotional intelligence. Building a community or team with this skill is one incredible group of people.

Did you know that self-awareness is one of the features that set us apart from animals? To start with self-awareness is the ability to know yourself and be conscious of how others see you too. There are really two common ways self-awareness can be used. Our ability to do it internally and externally.

Internal is all about being conscious of your likes/dislikes, your ambitions or drives, and your impact on other people. External self-awareness has to really deal with your acumen in understanding how other people see you. Looking at yourself essentially in a third person. Kind of like Dr. Strange when he leaves his body in his corporeal form that he uses to travel all the different planes, but not as cool as that.

What’s really interesting I found in my studies is that there is a direct hand shake between outer happiness and how self-aware we are. We just make much better decisions when we have some great skills around controlling our self awareness internally and externally. Those decisions with that in mind, are usually aligned with our decisions that make us the happiest. You’ll chose better relationships, both personal and professional. You’ll also find your best creative spots and where success is easier to find.

It’s not uncommon for us to be disillusioned about our own awareness. Especially when we don’t work and practice to sharpen it on a regular basis. We are capable of creating emotional blindness, knowledge blindness, and behavior blindness. The worst kind I have personally had to improve and deal with was emotional blindness. Not being aware of my triggers and what sets me off has ended or damaged many relationships I’ve had over the years. It took a lot of work around asking people for feedback before I actually cornered this blindness and corrected it.

“When people are steeped in self-delusion, they are usually the last to find out.”

You might think self-analyzing is the way to make this lack of self-awareness up, but it’s not. You have an inner bias about yourself. We need to ask ourselves what kind of person we are when using introspection to improve our skills of self-awareness. I found when asking myself why I am the person I am, I was to critical, created anxiety that I didn’t need to in myself, and created much less positive behaviors. When we ask what, we put names to our opportunities over excuses. Naming our behaviors are much more powerful. The last thing to be careful of is ruminating for to long on that what person you are. It can lead to depression.

“We can’t always trust what we see when we look inward.”

Working on your external self-awareness as I mentioned above is not as simple as just asking friends and co-workers for feedback. That’s a great start. It’s literally the people you ask that make up all the difference. Asking friends and co-workers is the most common mistake at getting feedback. They’re going to be bias and not want to hurt your feelings which means potentially you’re not going to get true feedback you need to hear. How others see us is just as important if not more important than how we see ourselves. So, be a good getter. Leaders who ask for critical feedback are seen as more effective.

Once you got the feedback you need from internal sourcing and external it’s time to find a space to reflect on that feedback to start to understand or study it better. Here’s some questions to consider during that reflection time:

  • Can I relate in some way to this feedback? What makes me relate to it?
  • How will this feedback affect me in the near and long term of things I’m trying to accomplish? What impact can it have on my future well being?
  • Should I even act on this feedback?

That last one is a little tough, but true. Not all feedback should be acted on. There are also some aspects of your behavior that you might not ever be able to change. It’s just who you are. A tiger cannot change it’s stripes, but it can roll around in the mud and hide them a little. This is the attitude we need to take with those things about ourselves that we cannot change. Find other behaviors that can help balance or over compensate for our deficiency in the others. You can also be open with your weaknesses with others too. It will clearly allow others to understand you better.

Once you got your internal and external self-awareness figured out a little more confidently, you can start understanding how to build a team of self-aware people. These are teams that can pivot and are incredibly agile. You do this by taking the individual work you did with yourself and apply it to a one to few application. Completing SMARTER goals as a team together are an example of this type of application:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Risky
  • Time-bound
  • Exciting
  • Relevant

This type of goal setting together really requires internal and external exercises in team self-awareness. Setting goals together in this method creates collective insight as you move to measure objectives, progress, process, assumptions, and individual contributions together.

Eliminating and lessening your self-blindness is a vital skill in today’s people economy, but one we often lack or don’t have the skill yet to build a team around. The good news, you can fix this any time you want by doing some of the learns I mentioned above.

Hope your weekend is going well. Take a time out with some self-reflection time when you can before next week starts. Moving into this as a habit every Saturday as you wrap a week and before you begin another will move you from self-absorption and into self-awareness quicker. Thanks for viewing!

✌🏻 Shawn

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