Aware or Oblivious?

leadership self-awareness weekly workout Aug 26, 2022

There are essentially five pillars of Emotional intelligence (EQ) and today we will explore what I believe to be the primary pillar… Self-Awareness.

One aspect of EQ is the capacity to understand and manage your own emotions in positive ways. EQ is an important factor in relieving stress, communicating effectively, empathizing with others, and defusing conflict.

Organizational psychologist and researcher, Tasha Eurich, conducted a research study on “Self-Awareness.” The study also showed that most people don’t see themselves as clearly as they could. The data revealed that while 95% of people polled believed themselves to be self-aware, once the study was conducted only 12 to 15 % were actually self-aware.

What is self-awareness? It is the ability to accurately identify one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and to understand the impact of those behaviors on others.

The journey to self-awareness begins with self-assessment. Accurate self-assessment can provide you with valuable insights and understanding regarding your leadership strengths and areas of opportunity.

There are numerous self-assessment tools that can aid in outlining how others experience you, your strengths, your behavior tendencies under stress, and the areas where you need to work on developing more effective leadership skills.

The key to making any shift in thought or action is becoming completely honest about how you currently relate to any situation. Self-assessments can provide you with a neutral and objective evaluation.

Self-assessment is simply the understanding of “what is” without judgment or opinion. It allows you to gain clarity and supports your journey from a default mindset or behavior to a more effective mindset and resulting behavior.  Leaders who are willing to truly self-assess become humble and teachable thereby opening themselves, and their minds to new ideas, concepts, and suggestions.

Think of a self-assessment as the experience of inventorying the products on a store shelf. The point is to simply identify what is.

Self-assessment is not the same as self-criticism. In fact, self-criticism inhibits your willingness to accurately self-assess.

Self-criticism causes internal defensiveness and closes the mind. Self-criticism is a result of fear and immediately sends my brain into fight or flight mode. Self-criticism triggers you and moves you from being humble and teachable to being closed and guarded.

So often there is a self-critic program habitually running in the background of people’s minds. People are not even aware that this program is running and yet this critical voice and its messages cause significant damage in your life.

Some clients think self-criticizing is motivating. I have noticed in working with leaders that those who tend to be critical of the people they lead also tend to have a very strong internal critic.

Criticism of ourselves and others erodes self-confidence and self-esteem and is highly de-motivating. In addition, self-criticism causes unnecessary stress and tension in your life.

Highly effective leaders continuously participate in the art of self-assessment. As a result of understanding their strengths and challenges, effective leaders are more open to opportunities that are not available when they are defensive and shut down.

So how do we shift from self-criticism to self-assessment?

  1. Become aware of the messages you are giving yourself throughout the day. Stop regularly and notice your internal dialog. Pay special attention when you are embarking on a new task, assignment, or project. Also notice during those times when you are engaging with people you do not normally engage with.

I noticed my own self-critic wanting to engage as I wrote this article. My awareness prevented it from taking over my thought process and allowed me to choose more encouraging thoughts. I am not certain the self-critic ever completely goes away but with practice and new choices, we default to more supportive internal thoughts and behaviors.

Do not criticize the critic. This is just the critic trying to come in through the back door.

If you notice that you are engaged in self-criticism practice self-assessment by observing without judgment or condemnation.

  1. Choose to change what you are telling yourself. Just before writing this article, I heard a song playing and these lyrics caught my attention. The artist sang…
    The thing I really like about myself is…”  What a perfect alternative to self-criticism.

Use these words as a template to change your default program from a language of self-criticism to self-support.

  1. Think in terms of win-win. It is a win when you notice the self-critic is operating and a win when you notice you are choosing new thoughts.

Remember that changing is a process and not an intellectual exercise. It takes commitment and patience in order to develop and grow ourselves. The objective is not perfection the objective is practice!

Research tells us that only about 20% of the population has innate leadership skills. That means the remaining 80% need to develop and cultivate these skills.

If you were engaged in a new workout regime or learning a new language or instrument it would take time to reach your goals. Often practicing a new behavior is uncomfortable because it is unfamiliar. Be willing to sit in discomfort. If you are not willing to experience discomfort, you will default to former thinking and related behaviors.

Be patient with yourself as you embark upon the journey to better self-awareness and extraordinary leadership.

Be BOLD develop Self-Awareness!

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