“What do you want, Jen?”
I thought it was a dumb question. I didn’t have time to think about what I wanted. I was leading a rapidly growing organization, overseeing a multi-million dollar building project, and writing my first book. There was no time to think about what I wanted. There was barely time to do everything I needed to do!
My husband’s question triggered an avalanche of emotions that took me months of counseling to crawl out of. What emerged was a realization of how disconnected I had become from myself. I was lacking self-awareness and it was impacting every area of my life.
Emotional intelligence expert and psychologist, Daniel Goleman, defines self-awareness as, “having a deep understanding of one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs, and drives. People with strong self-awareness are neither overly critical nor unrealistically hopeful. Rather, they are honest—with themselves and with others.”
In that season of my life, I wasn’t being honest with myself or with others about my capacity and my limits. As a result, instead of succeeding, which I was so desperately trying to do, I was floundering everywhere. My relationship with my husband was tense, I was short-tempered with my team, and time with friends was non-existent.
A crash-course in self-awareness opened my eyes to the importance of this topic. I believe that self-awareness is the secret weapon of successful people. When I have a deep understanding of what is going on with me, I can be more conscious of how I impact others and therefore be more intentional in all I do.
Here are 3 Reasons Self-Awareness Is Essential
1. Self-awareness is the strongest predictor of success.
A study by an organizational consulting firm, Green Peak Partners, and Cornell University examined 72 executives at public and private companies and found that “a high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of overall success.”1
While experience, confidence, ability to make tough decisions, and other so-called “hard skills” were important, the researchers concluded that self-awareness was the key differentiator for the most successful leaders. “The executives most likely to deliver good bottom line results are actually self-aware leaders who are especially good at working with individuals and in teams.”
Self-awareness equips us to work with others in a way that leads to results.
2. Self-awareness equips you to know where to focus.
Rewind to a younger you and I bet you had greater clarity about your passions and goals for life. Fast-forward and layer on the complexity of work experience, family life, and increased responsibilities, and you’ve likely lost that level of clarity. When we are responding to all the “shoulds” that come at us, it seems we don’t have the luxury of knowing what we really want.
When we commit to being self-aware, we fight to stay connected to our core longings. We know our strengths and weaknesses, which equips us to know where to focus our growth efforts. The tendency is to feel that this is selfish or self-focused, but the reality is that those we influence get our best engagement when we know ourselves well and are leaning into our strengths.
3. Self-awareness makes you less self-focused.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but the more self-aware we become the less self-focused we actually are. When we are self-aware, we are more in touch with how we engage others and how they experience us. We know when we’re under stress and are more likely to catch ourselves before we say that sarcastic comment or respond curtly. The more self-aware we are the more in tune we will be to our emotions and how they are impacting our actions. We notice how we affect others and more deliberately consider what we need to do to act in a way that is respectful to others.
When we lack self-awareness, we miss the social cues that indicate others are walking on eggshells around us or are afraid to speak up. Greater self-awareness helps you understand how others experience you and you are able to adjust your style to others rather than expecting them to adjust to you.
Self-awareness is an essential asset in living out your purpose with confidence. When you have a clear understanding of who you are, what you value, and what you hope to achieve coupled with an awareness of your emotions and needs, you will engage others with an honesty and vulnerability that is contagious and compelling.
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To hear more from Jenni, check out this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life, 6 Qualities that Make a Female Strong with Leadership Expert Jenni Catron – 030!