Everything in life starts with ‘self’. This is the innermost circle, and the centre of all things. So it stands to reason that on the road to personal and career success, the journey must start with you. So what really makes you, you?
To understand this at a really simple level, consider that we are all made up of a number of layers, just like an onion. And while there are many layers, lets focus on the ones that have the biggest impact on behaviour. After all, it’s behaviour that is the key driver for success. So behaviour is determined by our needs, values, experiences and beliefs.
Let’s break that down:
- Needs– physical and emotional requirements for us to live a healthy life.
- Values– what we determine as being most important in life and which guide our motivations and actions.
- Experiences– the things that happen to us and how we interpret them
- Beliefs – what we determined to be true based on the meaning we give our experiences. These can be either ‘limiting’ (stop us from doing something) or ‘empowering’ (propel us to do something).
When we take time to understand these layers we can better identify and connect to our own internal state. It is tuning into our needs, values, experiences and beliefs that gives us an understanding of why we do what we do (our behaviours) and start to challenge ourselves to do things differently and better (new habits).
Self-awareness allows us to view a situation or experience objectively rather than critically and to challenge our thinking around self-limiting beliefs. When we learn to see things from a different perspective and reframe our experiences, we can face challenges more easily and develop improved relationships with self and others. Self-awareness facilitates an ability to accept opinions, feedback and criticism from others without being negatively affected by it.
It invites a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset, where we can embrace failure, engage in continuous learning, and continue to develop talent over a lifetime. Rather than being paralyzed by uncertainty, we can think outside the box, and act confidently to remove obstacles that get in our way. Our judgment is sound and rooted in logic, rather than clouded by emotional reaction.
So, the big question is, how do we do it? Following are some simple tips:
1. Identify your needs – write down the emotional and physical things that you require to function at your best and ensure you are meeting as many of them as possible. While it’s not realistic to have all of our needs met all of the time, it is important to understand what they are so we can direct our energies towards having them in place. To find out more about the basics of human needs, take a look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs here.
2. Identify your values – having an appreciation of what motivates you into action is really important. Your values point to the things that you have identified as being most important in life, and any decision you make or action you take is based on an underlying value. For further insights into what constitutes a value and what resonates for you, take a look at the list developed by Scott Jeffrey here.
3. Get to know your emotional triggers – these come from our experiences and the meaning that we attach to those experiences. For example, consider a child that answers a question incorrectly at school, or is asked to read aloud and falters over a sentence, who forms a belief that they are dumb. As an adult, this individual may be emotionally triggered in the workplace by any feedback that suggests they are lacking in a skill or area of knowledge.
4. Ask for feedback and take it on board – it’s important to seek feedback in the context of personal growth and not take it as an insult. Remember that without development, your weaknesses can impact future potential and success. So use it as an improvement opportunity and choose to be empowered by it.
5. Practice self-discipline – if you want to rein in the behaviours and tasks that take you off track and interfere with achieving your goals, you need to practice some self-discipline. Self-discipline keeps you focused on what you believe matters, helping to shape positive habits that move you in the direction of your goals.
6. Meditate – mediation is a great way to improve awareness in the moment. It doesn’t always need to involve a yoga mat, guided relaxation apps, or a 30-minute lie down. Meditation can be as simple as focused deep breathing, even if only for a few seconds. You can ask yourself questions in this space to get clarity around any issues or obstacles that have presented themselves.
7. Consider doing a behavioural profile – these are a great way to gain immediate and accurate insights into what drives your behaviour – what makes you who you are, the environments that suit you, how you communicate, what energises you and what causes you stress. There are a number of free profiles online or several paid options if you want to check out DiSC, Myers Briggs or True Colors.
Remember that self-awareness is key to personal growth and success. With accurate information regarding strengths and weaknesses, motivation, behaviour style, and learning preferences, you are free to ‘get out of your own way’ and achieve everything you want to achieve – be it business or personal!
If you want to know more about my mindset and self-awareness coaching please get in touch. I would love to help!