Sharpening our self-awareness
Self-awareness is a determining factor in professional success. It is also a complex and intimate topic. How can we develop the means to function with a better understanding of ourselves?
"Gnothi Seauton", know thyself: this precept was on the pediment of the Apollo temple in Delphi more than 25 centuries ago. Since, self-awareness has always been a topic at the heart of philosophical and religious writings, whatever the beliefs and the cultures. Then, more recent fields, notably psychology and sociology, became interested in it. They have tried to provide a definition and to measure its impact on our lives.
For researchers, self-awareness rests on two pillars: internal consciousness and external consciousness. The first deals with the knowledge of what matters to us, of our usual ways to act and react, of our strengths and weaknesses. The second addresses the consciousness of the way we are perceived by others and of the impact we have on them.
Several studies show that self-consciousness is a determining factor in professional success, all the more essential the higher we reach in hierarchy. Works by Green Peak Partners and Cornell University notably, have reached the conclusion that a high self-awareness is the strongest predicting factor of success among leaders. From another perspective, a Korn Ferry analysis shows that executives who strongly overestimate their competences multiply their risk of failure by six!
Yet, knowing ourselves well is not easy. Another Korn Ferry study shows that nearly 80% of top executives consider themselves very competent in a domain that their entourage considers as one of their weak points. Such blindness can easily be explained. The way we look at ourselves is biased by our emotions or the beliefs that we have developed about ourselves. Moreover, it is difficult to receive honest feedback, the more so when we progress in hierarchy.
Fortunately, we can work on our self-awareness. This involves deliberate efforts to regularly learn from our real-life situations, to balance our efforts between the way we perceive our inner life and the way other people see us, and to create an environment propitious to our own lucidity and to that of our entourage.
In this synopsis:
- A few techniques to better understand ourselves
- The fundamentals for better self-awareness
- Creating an environment propitious to lucidity
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