What should I be self-aware on?
The next question you will ask me is what you should be self-aware on. I suggest starting with the following areas:
1. Know your strengths
In 1982, researchers videotaped two bowling teams playing several games. Members of each team then watched the recordings to improve. However, the videos received were edited differently with a team receiving a recording of only their mistakes while the other team’s video only highlighted their good performances.
After studying the videos, both teams improved their game, but the team that studied its successes improved its score twice as much as the one that studied their mistakes. This research concludes that focusing on yourself, regardless if you focus on your mistakes or strengths, yields improvement. But zooming in on your strengths was significantly more beneficial.
Read More: Why Self-Awareness in the Key to Great Leadership
I just took the entire Leaderonomics team on a “strengths retreat” a few weeks ago where all of us explored our strengths together. There were numerous “aha” moments for us during the retreat. If your organisation is not a strength-based organisation, work with your human resources leaders to become one.
2. Know how you learn
Learning is the cornerstone of growth. Learning is also a very painful process and many of us avoid “real” learning as it hurts. Do you know how best you learn? Are you a visual, auditory or kinetic learner? Once you are self-aware about your personal learning habits and style, you become a more effective learner and leader.
3. Practise “feedback analysis”
Peter Drucker wrote about a self-reflection process he termed as “feedback analysis”. He described it as follows:
“Whenever you make a decision or take a key decision, write down what you expect will happen. Nine or 12 months later, compare the results with what you expected.”
Leaders who practise this approach gain significant insights about themselves and become self-aware on their decision-making power. Warren Buffett never fails to write down the reasons why he is making an investment and checks back years later to see if it went right or wrong. Through this process, he learned more about himself.
4. Ask yourself tough questions often
Many people struggle to answer questions about themselves. Ask yourself these questions that follow. If you do not have a clear answer for them, keep asking yourself until you figure out what the answers would be:
- What are your values?
- What do you stand for?
- What legacy do you want to leave and be known for when you are gone?
- What do you fear?
- What is getting in the way of you feeling your best?
- How do you think your best friends would describe you?
- What would your colleagues and bosses describe you?
Self-awareness in business
New research by Korn Ferry analysts David Zes and Dana Landis confirms the direct relationship between leadership self-awareness and organisational financial performance. Zes and Landis wrote in their whitepaper, A Better Return on Self-Awareness, that “public companies with a higher rate of return (ROR) also employ professionals who exhibit higher levels of self-awareness.” Their research provides the following key arguments:
- Employees at poor-performing companies had 20% more blind spots than those working at financially strong companies.
- Employees at poor-performing companies were 79% more likely to have low overall self-awareness than those at firms with robust ROR.
Stock performance was tracked over 30 months, from July 2010 through January 2013. During that period the companies with the greater percentage of self-aware employees consistently outperformed those with a lower percentage (Zes and Landis, 2013). Knowing this, we must realise that self-awareness is NOT a soft skill that is nice to have in organisations. It is a critical leadership competency that every leader in every organisation must strive to posess.
MJ’s last album Invincible was rather profound. To me, it was his self-awareness album. The 1997 album seems to be MJ’s way of apologising to the world for all his mistakes. He clearly seems to indicate that every action he took not only affected him but everyone around him. MJ seemed to have finally found himself.
Shakespeare once wrote,
“To thine own self be true, and it must follow as night the day: thou canst not then be false to any other man.”
Shakespeare alludes that if we do not know ourselves, we cannot be true to ourselves. And if we cannot be true to ourselves, we will not inspire ourselves, nor others, to change. Do you know yourself? If you do not “know thyself” (nosce teipsum), you will never change the world. So, before trying to change the world, start by changing yourself.
I’m gonna make a change
For once in my life
It’s gonna feel real good
Gonna make a difference
Gonna make it right…
~ Man in the Mirror, Michael Jackson
Listen to this podcast by Roshan Thiran as he goes deeper into the "Man in the Mirror" topic in this exclusive: