Self Awareness and your
“Leaders are people who are able to express themselves fully . . .
The key to full self expression is understanding one’s self and the
world, and the key to understanding is learning—from one’s own
life and experience.”
How well do you know yourself ? And how do you know what you know? These are the two key questions that must be answered in our quest for self-awareness—a warts and all assessment of our strengths and vulnerabilities. I have been on something of a crusade to improve all of my clients’ self-awareness because it significantly correlates with their ability to lead effectively.
In Chapter 1, we learned how our beliefs are shaped by the turning points in our lives, providing fertile material with which to identify the things that really matter to us. In Chapter 2, we discussed how our family of origin can impact our confidence—for good and ill. It might seem that this chapter on self-awareness should be more of the same—keeping our focus inward, building our ability to reflect on, interpret, and absorb the implications of our personal history and our life experiences. Paradoxically, however, we’re going to turn our gaze outward, because I define a self-aware leader as one who ultimately focuses less on himself and more on the impact he has on others.
In Being and Nothingness by the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, a man in a hotel peeks through a keyhole, his attention fully absorbed on what he can see in the room. “All of a sudden I hear footsteps in the hall. Someone is watching me.” Now the voyeur’s attention shifts away from what he can see in the room toward the person in the hallway, and he feels shame as he realizes what that person must be thinking. My point is this: When trying to get people to follow our lead, it doesn’t matter what we do or how we do it. What matters is how they interpret what we do and how we do it. Being unaware of the effect we have on other people will undermine every move we make.