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“Know Thyself” - Socrates' famous quote certainly has merit but may leave you with lingering questions like "How?"  "To what end?"

However, self-awareness is all about practicality.  And that by gaining understanding of your strengths and weaknesses (which can be due to an over utilisation of your key signature strengths), you can move toward your goals with eyes wide open.

Self Awareness Facilitates Change

Being unaware, we unconsciously engage our default behaviour.

Only when we become aware of something, are we able to make choices as to the action we wish to take.

Sometimes, just being aware, allows the problem to solve us - rather than requiring us to solve the problem.

We really don't know how the world works.  We only perceive how the world works and our unique perception is based upon who we are and what we are aware of that is happening around us. 

Here is a mental model to use in your world: (Source: Author unknown)

  • Beliefs influence perception,
  • Perception structures reality,
  • Reality suggests possibilities,
  • Possibilities generate choices,
  • Choices initiate actions,
  • Actions affect outcomes,
  • Outcomes impact beliefs,
  • Awareness facilitates change.

The research around the benefits of self-awareness is pretty clear.  In one study, the best predictor of a high performance appraisal was seeing yourself as others see you; the best predictor of a low appraisal was overrating your skills. 

Deploying yourself against life and work is greatly helped by really knowing what you're good, average and bad at, what you're untested in, and what you overdo or overuse.

Seeing ourselves clearly does many things:

• It allows us to control impulses and select the most appropriate behaviours.

• It shows us how to avoid reacting in negative and potentially self-limiting ways.

• Knowing our strengths and limitations makes us more understanding of others.

• Gaining an understanding of issues reduces conflict in ourselves and in others.

The risk of remaining unaware is that you accumulate blind spots - things you think you're great at but others don't share your view.  Known weaknesses can be tackled directly if you choose.  A blind spot, on the other hand, is nearly impossible to address because it's a weakness you don't know exists or are unwilling to admit you're not good at.  This leads you to confidently strut into areas that should make you cautious and humble.  And disaster can soon follow.

Highly effective people know that the most important and intimidating work we do is "inner work."   Knowing who you are, what you want and why you want it are all important steps in your personal and professional journey. 

The formula for personal success = your human capital (what you know and can do) times your social capital (who you know and who knows you) times your reputation (who trusts you).

With thanks to Coach2Coach e-newsletter, September 10, 2012

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