Self-awareness is the cornerstone to any personal or professional growth process. We grow, learn, and develop by taking in new information, analyzing and processing it and allowing it to expand some aspect of ourselves, either by changing our thinking and behaviors or by releasing old habits and healing emotional roadblocks. Self-awareness is the opposite of our reactive, repetitive, subconscious-driven selves that most often run our lives on auto-pilot.
Many have been quoted telling us that we should “be true to ourselves,” and yet who are we at our core to be true to? Which ‘one’ of us is our real self? How much honest self-reflection is undertaken? Which “voices in our head” take center stage, and are they the ones we truly align to and authentically resonate around? Which persona is our truth, the one we are supposed to be true to? Being alive is easy compared to turning on the light of your own introspection inside where our truth needs excavating.
More business leaders and organizations are realizing the power in helping their employees with self-reflection, self-assessment, and expanding individual self-awareness, and are finding that the outcomes far exceed the cost in time and dollars invested. Increasing self-awareness has significant benefits:
– learn more about yourself
– get more grounded and increase focus
– clarify and live by your core values
– appreciate and utilize your innate strengths
– release limiting beliefs and fears that drive negative/reactive behaviors
– tap into your passion and increase energy and effectiveness
– boost creativity
– improve your communication and conflict resolution skills
– deepen relationship and build trust
– realize your life and work purpose
All conscious leaders have various methods they use to tap into the deeper, more authentic aspects of themselves. Below are the top five that I recommend will most impactfully increase your own self-awareness.
- Taking an honest, real self-assessment, while uncomfortable at times, is the first step to progress. Pay attention to your self-talk. Are your thoughts negative or positive, and are they focused on the past/future or are they grounded in the present moment? Are you building yourself and others up or tearing yourself and others down? What beliefs do you hold, which are working for you, and which are limiting in some way? What fears are present and what pattern of fear is predominant in you (such as the fear of separation, of not being good enough, of failing, of being wrong, rejection, or being emotionally uncomfortable)? Where have you made trade-offs in your life that lodged regrets within? What masks do you wear to protect yourself from others? What is working that should continue, what’s not working that you’d like to stop and let go, what new change is waiting to start in your life?
- Have a process of self-inquiry and self-reflection that brings more of your authenticity to light.
Uncover your core values. Get clear on your innate strengths and gifts. Reconnect with your passion and creative pursuits. Conduct 360-feedback from trusted others and become more aware of your blind-spots and how you are showing up in relationships. Conduct self-assessments on your emotional intelligence, leadership style, worldview, and personality aspects (using tools such as Myers Briggs, the Enneagram and others). Ask yourself the deep questions about your life’s purpose, and bring to life your “Why” for your existence, and for your team/organization.
- Pay attention to your feelings, your emotions, and your triggers. Honestly see your own patterns, and find ways to access your deep emotions to allow them to process out rather than stay bottled up. Pay attention to what triggers negative reactions in you, and try to own and clean up your messes after they occur. See what things, people and events generate judgement and biases within you. Self-help books, therapy, developing a spiritual practice, being a member of a peer group, and confiding in others openly and honestly about what you feel all are pathways to a healthier emotional you. Learn to tread more lovingly with yourself as you more deeply connect.
- Set regular intervals for calming your mind, stilling the constant flow of thoughts and emotions. Frequent check-ins with yourself on how you are feeling, and what you are thinking keeps you centered in the powerful now. Finding time to meditate, or contemplate, slows the automatic thinking process down, allows stress to dissolve, and frees access to our higher centers of thinking/feeling/being. Developing a mindfulness process that helps keep your self-awareness active and alive in the present moment will not only help you assess what’s really going on around you but will also allow you to be more of higher service to others.
- Set your intentions to become more self-disciplined in fulfilling your goals, overcoming obstacles and living more authentically in the present moment. Getting re-acquainted with commitment to your own self-improvement and growth is a powerful state of mind, and will pay benefits unimagined. Take responsibility for your actions and be honestly self-accountable with your outcomes. Have a daily reminder process to reset your attention around what you most desire to manifest.
Being self-aware is a process, a state, a power that will always serve you. Expanding self-awareness deepens your understanding of life, of others, of work. Self-awareness will enrich your leadership practice, and thereby positively touch others in your world. Take the time to allow your own authentic self to courageously live through you, and watch your life take on new vistas!