There are two types of people in this world. People who think that they are self-aware and those who actually are. According to a recent Harvard Business Review, 95% of people think they’re self-aware but only 10-15% actually are.
Think about your office, you may not have to look too far to find unaware colleagues – people who, despite past successes, solid qualifications, or irrefutable intelligence, display a complete lack of insight in how they come across.
Think about your own career. The vast majority of us have made foolish career decisions in the past, me included. Choosing the wrong job, the wrong team to be part, the wrong company to work for. Would we have made these decisions if we knew our desires and preferences better? The benefit of hindsight is a marvellous thing!
Self-awareness is about having a deep understanding of your own values, perspectives, skills, limitations, feelings and motivators. People with self-awareness know the impact of their behaviours on others. They are more fulfilled, confident, have better relationships, are better communicators, perform better at work, are more promotable and are more effective leaders with more profitable teams.
So, if you are a self-awareness unicorn, one of the rare 10-15%, that’s brilliant, you need not read any further. However, if you believe you stand alongside the vast majority of humankind, and would benefit from 3 simple tips to get to know yourself better to secure a more suitable career path, then carry on reading.
Looking at yourself introspectively, whilst challenging, will undoubtedly increase your self-awareness.
Analyse your past experiences; what jobs were you happiest and most successful in? Which skills were you using? Which managers brought out the best in you? What did they do? Which work cultures enabled you to be the best version of yourself? Why did the environment suit you? Write everything down.
By doing this you will be able to understand your preferences, your values, your motivators and the qualities that will be essential to you for career success. Persistent self-exploration will help you realise your true capability, acknowledge areas of both your personal and professional life that need improvement and can lead to tremendous growth.
Rally the troops and try Johari’s Window (a free on-line personality awareness exercise)
Johari’s window was designed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955 to help people to understand and know themselves better as well as to understand their relationships with other people. By describing yourself from a fixed set of adjectives, then asking your friends and colleagues to describe you from the same list, a grid of overlap and difference can be made up.
Pause, reflect and learn
So quickly we move on to the next thing without pausing to reflect on what has happened and what we may learn about ourselves as a result.
Think about situations that have gone well and not so well and the possible reasons for those outcomes. Then apply those learnings in the days and weeks that follow. By doing this you are increasing your self-awareness and constantly looking at ways you can improve your skills and value you can offer a prospective employer. A little hint! Keep a reflective journal. Personal growth examples can be motivating to reflect on and make great answers to relevant competency-based interview questions.
So, be patient, building great self-awareness takes time and it strengthens with maturity and life-experience. It will be worth it though, because by knowing yourself better you will be able to unlock your personal potential in the workplace and make better career choices for your future.