Self-Awareness

Every leader goes through many stages of development, which typically begins with taking a fresh look at yourself as a leader.  During the first stage, you listen and learn from everyone and every situation.  The second stage involves beginning to prove yourself as a leader, especially in your decision-making and problem-solving skills.  By the third stage you begin to have successes and deliver results based on the potential others saw in you. The fourth stage is when you start to question your abilities, especially when something has set you back a bit.

After a few iterations of the other stages, you enter the 5th stage – the one where you exhibit a little more maturity as a leader.  You discover a sense of humility and humor – the stage where you realize that those you surround yourself with are just as important, if not more so, than you are.  If you are a leader that takes yourself too seriously, you may find work life more difficult than it needs to be. 

In a Forbes article by Chinwe Esimai titled “Great Leadership Starts with Self-Awareness” she states that self-awareness has been cited as the most important capability for leaders to develop.  Successful leaders know where their natural inclinations lie and use this knowledge to boost those inclinations or to compensate for them.

Key points to self-awareness:

  1. Know yourself.  How self-aware are you?  How keen is your emotional intelligence, that ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others?  How are you effectively using that awareness to manage your behavior and relationships?  Are you honest with yourself about areas in which you need to grow?
  • Identify external factors that trigger both negative and positive behaviors.  How can you control your negative reaction to triggers?
  • Gather trusted feedback to help you understand the impact of your actions on others.  Are you unaware of your blind spots that may limit your effectiveness as a leader?
  • Consider the circumstances by thinking about when to utilize a personality trait to your advantage and when it’s best to leave it on the sidelines.  Most self-aware leaders have learned to identify their natural tendencies and have adjusted their behavior in some way, in order to change how they are perceived.  They did not change their personality, but they did learn how to change their behavior, when needed, in both business and personal situations.
  • Assess behaviors in light of your values and priorities by being honest about what tendencies you would like to change and which ones you would like to build upon.  The best outcome of self-awareness is to figure out what makes you amazing and be more of the excellent you.
  • Stay curious about yourself and others.  Curiosity will help you continually learn, grow, and develop as an effective leader.  Remember, you can learn from each person you interact with throughout the day.

If you want to go a little deeper regarding self-awareness, listen to this TED talk. (18:09) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9qVa4LoJx8  The Power of Self-Awareness by William L. Sparks

“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.” – Carl Jung

What transformational leader is lying silent in you, encompassing all of the talents and gifts that can enable you to become the next-generation you?” – Robert McMillan

“If you are under the impression you have already perfected yourself, you will never rise to the heights you are no doubt capable of.” – Kazuo Ishiguro

Lessons Learned in 2020

  1. If you love where you live and who you live with, isolation is a piece of cake. 
  2. If you have down days, and you will, the morning will usually wash those feelings away. 
  3. You can do with less. 
  4. Vision for the long term helps. This too will end. 
  5. Reaching out, connecting with others, and helping and supporting others is one way to stay sane. 
  6. Having a purpose each day is important. 
  7. Projects, projects, projects. They keep you busy and focused. 
  8. Faith and hope are key. 
  9. There are things you can control and things you cannot. Don’t worry about the things you can’t control. 
  10. Writing your thoughts, especially your gratitude, can be a good way to spend your time and energy. 
  11. Capitalize on opportunities that present themselves, e.g. investing in a new hobby or interest. 
  12. Spend as much time as you can outdoors doing something active, if you are able. 
  13. Stress brings out more of who people really are. 

2020 taught a lot of us good lessons. Some were harder to learn than others. It certainly will make facing the rest of 2021 easier. Hope you take a few minutes to enjoy each day, look around you, and encourage the people who are important to you!

BRH

Career – a job or profession someone does for a long time

The operative word in the definition of career is “long”.   You need to find, if you have not already, the work you want to do for a long time.  I know very few people who choose their career from the start.  One of the funny lines about careers – “The reason adults ask young children what they want to be when they grow up is because they are looking for hints”.

Typically careers take a meandering path.  Recently at the pool, our older grandson told a perfect stranger that he wanted to live on a ranch out west, design video games, and teach fencing when he is an adult.  The younger grandson, not to be outdone, said “I want to be a sushi restaurant owner.”  We shall see what the future holds.

You may know someone who got their degree in one thing but the opportunities took them somewhere else.  We would hope that ‘somewhere else’ sparked something in them and that they enjoy what they do.

You know your job is well-suited if:

  1. Everything comes naturally.  In other words, you know what to do next in differing situations but you don’t know why you know.  It just flows out of you.
  2. You receive consistently positive feedback.  The things you do and the results you achieve receive high praise.
  3. You find co-workers you are in-sync with.  This is the opposite of feeling odd-man-out.  Being in-sync with those you work with and your work environment is especially gratifying.  You know you are in the right place at the right time with the right people.
  4. You are passionate about what you are doing.  You are having fun because you know the work you are doing matters.  Every positive impact you have on others brings you great joy.
  5. Pay is not the most important thing.  Because you are being allowed to use the competencies and skills that energize you; the money is secondary.
  6. You can be you.  You don’t have to pretend.  It feels good because who you really are can shine through.

One story…

Kay was in the television industry.  She worked her way up to managing a t.v. station, putting in long hours and great effort to make it a success.  She was a high-achiever.  The people she was working with loved her.  But… something was missing.  After great angst, she left the industry and moved to Chile for a couple of years teaching English as a second language at an elementary school.  She discovered she loved working with children and loved teaching.  That is what was missing for her.  She completed her Masters in Education (previous degree had been in communications) while working at a predominantly-Spanish-speaking elementary school in Boston.  When she graduated, she accepted a teacher position in a 2nd grade classroom in a small town outside of Boston. Her career and path to true success was launched!  She has been happily teaching full-time for five years.

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

“It is highly impossible for you to be successful at what you don’t love.  Do what you love and love what you do.” –  Israelmore Ayiyor