In the light of calm and steady self-awareness, inner energies wake up and work miracles without any effort on your part. ~Nisargadatta Maharaj
Several years ago I sat in an auditorium and listened to a world-renowned expert on leadership talk about the importance self-awareness. I agreed with what he said. It’s what he didn’t say that really had me baffled.
He described self-awareness as knowing your strengths, what might be your weaknesses (he kind of played that down) and then he stopped there with his definition. I was waiting for what I believe is the most critical aspect of self-awareness. Knowing how your behavior affects other people. If you’re a leader, it’s absolutely critical to understand how what you do and say affects others.
What you do affects others.
It’s surprising to me how many people in leadership have never stopped to consider how what they do and how they behave affects others. And, that what they do will not affect everyone in the same way. I believe that’s a significant lack of self-awareness.
Fellow consultant and blogger, Dr. Kate Price said this about self-awareness. “It demonstrates a capacity to honestly evaluate your own actions, beliefs and impact on others.”
Because who we are as individuals is constantly evolving, self-awareness is much more a process than it is a destination. We don’t suddenly “arrive” at self-awareness. It’s a life-long journey; a way of being.
I’ve completed more personality assessments than I can count in order to be aware of what organizations are using. But simply knowing what letter or color or score I am does not mean I have a higher than average level of self-awareness. These are very helpful tools for reflection, but this alone does not make someone self-aware.
What can you do?
Are you constantly striving to better understand how your thinking and actions are influenced by your experiences?
What are your biases? Do you even know? How can you overcome these so you can view the world more realistically?
Some of those biases could be considered micro-inequities. That’s become a bit of a buzzword, but the definition is critical to consider. Micro-inequities are unintended signals of discouragement. This is caused by micro-messages we send other people that cause them to feel devalued, slighted, discouraged, or excluded. We do this because we lack self-awareness – knowing how our behavior impacts other people.
Now, if you really want to be bold, go to https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html and choose any one of the implicit bias tests to see how unbiased you really are. Think of it as a test of your own self-awareness.
Being vulnerable enough to examine your own self-awareness is bold. Making intentional changes to your behavior to encourage and lift up others, is a symbol of grace. Lead with bold grace.