Finding the right path when moving forward with your career can be challenging. From the difficult subject of compensation increases, to knowing when you are ready to move up into a new role, to refining the skill set you have; there are many steps that have to be put in place in order to further your career. In this series, I’ll provide tips as a COO for what I look for in highly performant team members and what has been expected of me over the years. The goal being to help you reach your professional and personal goals.
When I started this blog series it was a different time: We had never heard of COVID19. From losing loved ones and learning to work from completely different environments, to being quarantined, 2020 was a year of self evaluation.
Arguably, self evaluation and self awareness should be the first in this blog series, but in my experience it’s easier to swallow and take action when there’s a goal you’re trying to achieve. My first two blogs: Getting Out of Your Own Way and Making the Leap to Uncomfortable are important pieces to the puzzle, and will get you ready for success. Refining your self awareness is how you evaluate where you want to go and will help you plan how to get there.
While there are many articles and books about how to achieve this conscious knowledge, I haven’t found many elaborating on why it’s worth achieving and how it will affect your day-to-day. In light of that, I have put together two articles where I expound on some important areas we don’t always associate with self awareness in an effort to broaden the understanding of why it is critical that we take advantage of the opportunities it brings forth.
Self awareness opens your truth to who you are, who you were, and are headed toward being: It can make you feel vulnerable, but it will also enable personal and professional growth. I’ve been in many conversations where people genuinely do not understand others who lack confidence. “They’re great! They’ve got all kinds of things going for them. Why aren’t they comfortable in their own skin?” I’ve also never met an unconfident person who enjoys feeling that way. Typically it comes from a combination of a fear of being judged, genuinely having no faith in themselves, playing it as a victim card, or a mixture thereof. A self awareness check will let you know where you fall within your journey. Increasing (and creating) confidence is all about increasing your self awareness, embracing vulnerability and being willing to accept change. However, embracing who you are now, facing what you’ve been through, and knowing where you want to go is the first step to being confident in who you are. That’s the problem.
Knowing and embracing your flaws, habits, coping mechanisms, and areas of temptation is actually a good thing. There are few who don’t have some kind of vice. Example of vice beyond the ordinary and obvious: shaming ourselves with guilt for not making a daily practice around a hobby.
The moment you recognize the things that hold power over you is the moment you will be content with who you are. It’s like finally putting into perspective all of the things that nag at you during the day. You may want to make changes, but it’s not something that you want bad enough for the weight of the effort...so you’ll accept the consequences later. Whether you change or not is up to you. The power is in accepting that right now, this is where you are, and that’s fine. (If it’s not fine, make a change). Once you’ve accepted it you will have the ability to be truly content, and happy.
Food for Thought: What were you doing the last time you were fully content, and what is it about that moment that made you feel complete?
We get so wrapped up in surface level materialism and instant gratification that we’ve forgotten how to find lasting happiness. Studies and psychologists everywhere will tell you that the more time a person spends on social media, the higher the risk of depression. I believe it’s because we’re focused on our image and that we’ve forgotten to experience what’s happening in the real world. We no longer take time to smell the flowers; instead we take pictures of the flowers to post on some platform in order to hopefully receive affirmation from people we don’t even know. We are impatient and compare our day-to-day lives to the “highlights” in our friends’ lives, exacerbating our feeling of insecurity and un-fulfillment. How do you find happiness within that kind of mindset? The only answer I’ve found is to develop self awareness, and to fine tune the skill continuously.
Self awareness will make many people uncomfortable in this arena as it reveals that happiness isn’t found in a new phone, a pool, the vacations, or even the money. True happiness comes from doing right by oneself. Often it involves working hard to earn a good, worthy reward, or having a mutually satisfying relationship. In a lot of ways it’s choosing to do the right thing even if there are unpleasant consequences. That’s hard when instant gratification doesn’t require much effort. The question you need to ask yourself is how you want to truly experience happiness, and if so, are you willing to put the effort in? That is, after all, what we all want in life, right?
Self aware people have it better than most in relationships because they have the ability to take stock of the situation with a realistic perspective. It can be extremely difficult when one or both parties don’t understand where the other is coming from, or the origins of your feelings. When you lash out because someone didn't do something they said they would, you are creating distance between you and your partner. Distance in relationships is infectious, like a deadly disease. To you, to friends, to family. It breeds discontentment and un-confidence. And hurt.
Food for Thought: We’ve got enough hurt people. Let’s make self aware warriors again.
There’s something to be said about being aware enough to choose love over everything else. It’s easy to blame circumstances, the other person, etc. It’s not as easy to choose love and self-improvement, especially when you’re going through a hard time. They say, “If it’s broke don’t fit it.” What if it is broken? An attitude of blame will cause more distance and increase the dysfunction. A self aware perspective allows you to step back and see the situation as it is - a broken one that needs both parties’ involvement to fix. Talk to any couple that has been in a relationship for a long time and they will tell you that you have to choose love over everything else.
As you can see, self awareness goes far deeper than surface level. Self awareness goes hand in hand with a wide array of important components to life, including contentment, happiness, love, and finding success. Truly successful people are incredibly self aware, know when to say no (and yes), and take the time it needs to improve themselves in areas that align with their values. That isn’t to say they don’t struggle, because we all do, it’s that they struggle with proactively acting instead of reacting. Can you imagine a world where more people didn’t simply react and instead responded with positivity?
For further reading:
7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey
The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz
You Are a Badass, by Jen Sincero