This month we’ll be focusing on self-awareness. I realize this is a topic that we discuss at every WLF session and you might be wondering: “What’s new here?” My answer is that is there is nothing “new” per se. However, a few weeks ago, the New York Times’ Smarter Living Newsletter included a great article – “Don’t Let a Lack of Self-Awareness Hold You Back” – which you can read here. The article cites research by Dr. Tasha Eurich, a renowned organizational psychologist, that revealed that while more than 95% of us think we are self aware, the reality is, fewer than 15% of us actually are self aware. This means that most of us are fooling ourselves – about ourselves – most of the time. Scary!
This matters a lot because, as you know, self-awareness is the cornerstone of self-development and growth. We simply cannot change what we do not “see.” Moreover, research shows that self-aware people are happier, more successful, more creative, have better relationships and are better leaders. This is at the heart of what WLF is all about.
Check Your Blindspots
Yet we all have blindspots that hold us back. How often have you thought that a friend or family member was getting in their own way? You may have said to yourself “If they only did XYZ, things would be so much better for them!” or “The answer is so obvious; I don’t get why they can’t see it!” Here’s the thing – while it can be easy to see the blindspots in others –the “blind” comes from the fact that we cannot see them in ourselves. But we can change this.
In the same New York Times article, editor Tim Herrera’s prescribes a simple but elegant prescription for navigating the blindspots that impede self-awareness – he suggests we find our “thing.” Herrera describes our “thing” as: “That particular behavior, habit or mind-set that is self-destructive but that we’re completely blind to. Personally, professionally or otherwise, it’s something that’s holding us back from achieving our full potential, but for whatever reason, we simply can’t see it ourselves.” I’ve never heard it expressed more clearly or succinctly.
Do You Know Your Thing?
This week – begin looking for your “thing.”
1. Ask a trusted (and brutally honest!) colleague, friend or family member to tell you what they think your “thing” is.
2. Manage every impulse you have to react in a defensive (Well of course I’m like that – you know how hard it’s been!) or argumentative (That’s just plain wrong!) manner. Ask for clarification or examples if necessary (without defensiveness in your tone of voice), and thank them for their honesty.
3. Repeat as necessary (no more than three times)
This may not be the most enjoyable exercise you’ve ever done – especially at the beginning. It may feel uncomfortable, or even hurtful. But the payoff – informed introspection and genuine insight and movement – will be well worth the effort.
Next up: When “What” is a better question than “Why”
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