Hello SOTGC community,
How much of an impact can you make just by simply looking into the mirror? No, I’m not talking about physically looking at yourself but looking deeper at your self-awareness. How are you reacting to yourself and how are your surroundings reacting to you? Luckily, I have always had some level of self-awareness but I never really tapped into it until I entered my 20’s. Becoming more self-aware has opened my eyes to many awesome things!
I remember being 20 years old and being given my first self-assessment. “Easy homework,” I thought as I breezed through the pages of questions. I already knew my personality and what kind of person I was, so I figured it was going to be pointless but simple. Unbeknownst to me, it would present a whole new level of awareness. At my “wise” old age of 20, I already assumed that I was an extrovert, I enjoyed talking, and had a knack for inspiring others. However, the assessment showed me that I didn’t really lead by example. How could I possibly gain respect or influence others if I could not do as I was asking of others? I spent the next year of my life (the reassessment was one year away) focused on how to lead by example, even if it meant admitting that my expectations weren’t realistic and that, at times, I was being a hypocrite. I learned a lot about gaining respect from my peers through this “easy homework.”
When I first started my career, my boss asked me to join a project team for a process change that was going to take place. Being fairly new and inexperienced, I found the project leader’s strong opinions and defensive responses left me feeling suppressed and intimidated. I looked around and noticed that I was not the only one who was avoiding confrontation. I sensed it on everyone else’s mind (plus the random eye rolling behind his back). No one seemed to really care where the project was going because no one felt that his or her opinions mattered. I thought the project leader was for sure a controlling jerk. After the meeting, the project leader asked me to stay. He thanked me for joining the team and said, “That went really well. Sounds like everyone is on board.” It was at that moment that I realized he lacked self-awareness. He was unintentionally intimidating the team and was misperceived into thinking that everyone was agreeing with him. I took that as a lesson to myself to always be aware of how I interact with others; especially if I’m in a leadership role.
I used to be scared of feedback because it meant that someone was going to point out my worst flaws, but after receiving feedback and knowing how to use it, I now find it extremely valuable.
My first experience with training was when I was 20 years old. I was training students and receiving survey feedback after each session. Life was great because I got positive feedback after each session until about five sessions in. “Ali doesn’t seem interested in her training session.” I was in denial until one of my colleagues read his negative response out loud. He was upset because someone said that he was “too much to handle.” Well, in my head I was thinking, “yeah, you are too much to handle” when I realized that my feedback probably spoke the truth also. I found ways to stay excited about the training and to show that I was engaged. Eventually, my boss told me that she noticed I had stepped up my training and was doing a good job; all because one person had the courage to give me honest feedback.
What do you really know about yourself?
Is how you perceive yourself in line with how others perceive you? Self-awareness didn’t always jump out as a characteristic that I wanted to have, but seeing the positive impact it had on my leadership and development is proof that it is just as important.
If this post made you more aware of how your self-awareness impacts your life, repost this on your social media sites.