When it comes to the top skills of effective leadership, nothing trumps self-awareness. As I’ve mentioned previously, improving your self-awareness can have a positive effect on your level of self-confidence. That should be enough to make most people want to focus in on this important attribute! But in case it isn’t, here are another 11 benefits of self-awareness that are in your best interest to experience.
1. You’ll connect more easily with others
Increased self-awareness will bring about increased humility, making you a more approachable person.
People you meet who might have put you on a pedestal will see a down-to-earth, easy-to-talk-to individual who’s honest and sincere about themselves. Strangers who might initially judge you negatively (for whatever reason), will quickly see a confident, secure person who is comfortable in their own skin and doesn’t need to put on a front to impress others.
In both of these scenarios, invisible social barriers will begin to come down and interactions will flow more naturally.
2. Your written communication skills will improve
By knowing yourself, you will have a better handle on your written voice. You’ll be able to detect if you write a like an academic (lengthy, complex and nuanced sentences), like a storyteller (actually using stories of real or fictional people to convey your message), like a relaxed friend (fun and playful language that’s not too uptight) or like a new professional acquaintance (usually polite and fairly short on words).
Of course, there are many other profiles among the ones I’ve just mentioned, but being able to discern how you are coming off as a writer (which may or may not be appropriate for the situation you’re facing), will help you improve how well you interact with others in this medium.
3. You will know what work to delegate, and what to keep for yourself
Being highly self-aware means having a firm grasp on your strengths and weaknesses. By knowing these, you’ll realize there are some tasks and projects that are perfectly suited for you…and others that aren’t!
For all of the amazing projects out there that really excite you and align well with your strengths: crush them! Whether on your own or as a team leader, feel free to take the charge and produce great work.
When it comes to tasks that outside your wheelhouse, don’t be afraid to bring in some help. Let go of these items on your to-do list with some careful delegation – find the person who has the skills and passion for the job and let them run wild with it. Even if you can’t let go of the project fully, this is a great time to bring in additional resources or helping hands so that the work meets or exceeds expectations.
4. You’ll end up working more efficiently
This is a quick add-on to point #3 above. By concentrating your efforts around the work that excites you and plays to your strengths, you’ll find yourself procrastinating less and getting more done.
If the process of a project or the end results of your work really strike a chord in you, why wouldn’t you jump in with both feet?
5. You’re more likely to remain humble in the long term
As Paul Jarvis notes in his book, Company of One: Why Staying Small is The Next Big Thing for Business, as people advance further into leadership roles, they may lose some of the qualities that initially brought them to their new level of influence. Humility is one of those qualities.
Jarvis suggests that leaders put some sort of regular self-check system in place (perhaps in the form of therapy, working with a coach, or a self-audit routine). This emphasis on maintaining high self-awareness can allow people in leadership positions to avoid potentially harmful developments such as depression and work-life conflict.
Coach’s Note: this is a great book to read for entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their business-building journey!
6. You’ll attain more and more goals
Your improved knowledge of self will transfer to your pursuit of personal and professional goals. By taking a hard, honest look at yourself, you’ll see where you are (or aren’t) taking the action needed to reach milestones.
At the end of the day, it’s your actions that determine your results in life. Not taking action in line with desired goals is what holds most people back from accomplishing what they truly want.
If you have a goal to run a marathon in a month but haven’t gone on a run in months, you are missing the key action – physical training – needed to succeed. Self-awareness helps to keep you accountable, period."At the end of the day, it's your actions that determine your results in life. Not taking action in line with desired goals is what holds most people back from accomplishing what they truly want." Tell everyone!!
7. You will feel less like a victim in your own life
This is an important one! By knowing how you’re showing up in the world, you’ll be able to take greater responsibility for your life. When you understand what you can control and where you are coming up short in different tasks and projects, the less you will tend to blame the world for your problems.
Acting like a victim robs most people of their enjoyment of life. It holds them back in their careers, in their relationships, and in their day-to-day worlds. One of the biggest benefits of greater self-awareness is the ability to see yourself as a character within your own life’s story, and then realize that you have agency over how that story goes.
If you’re stuck in life, stop acting like a victim! If you’re acting like a victim, it’s time to check in with yourself about why that is. It’s time to become self-aware!
8. You will experience less conflict in your life
In his book Negotiating the Nonnegotiable, professor Daniel Shapiro explains the concept of emotional “vertigo.” This is a state where two people caught in a conflict rapidly lose their self-awareness and get sucked into their emotions in a seemingly irrational way.
Let’s take two people who are stuck in an argument as an example. As the vertigo persists, both sides lose their ability to think in logical ways. They may even forget about why the argument started in the first place. To cool the heat of the moment, one party usually needs to regain their sense of self-awareness. Once caught, the conflict has a chance at being resolved, or – at the very least – suspended.
Without someone tapping into their understanding of what’s happening in the fire of the fight, the conflict can go on endlessly. Self-awareness is the fire hose that you need to escape this scenario in one piece.
9. You’ll become a more dependable person
Tacking on to point #6, the boosted personal accountability that comes with heightened self-awareness will turn you into a super reliable person. Think about this from the standpoint of being punctual:
- being more aware of your schedule will make you less likely to forget where to be at a given moment (“I forgot I had that meeting!!”)
- becoming more aware of how long it takes to get somewhere will cut down on the number of times you show up late for something
- being aware of how you need to dress for an occasion will prevent you from panicking at the last minute and trying a million outfits on, wasting your precious travel time in the process (it’s totally OK if you try on a few by the way! I once tried on seven before a date and, of course, was late!)
Consider this, if you didn’t know where you were in your day, there’s no way of delivering on tasks that you or others may have set for you. When you deliver desired results consistently, people begin to trust you more, and your reputation as a dependable person begins to take shape.
10. Your self-awareness will make you more empathetic toward others
Seeing yourself in others is a powerful way of building empathy. When we know ourselves and our life’s narrative, we can relate to others who may be experiencing something that we’ve gone through personally.
Here’s an important caveat keep in mind, however. Just because you’ve lived a certain experience doesn’t mean you know exactly how another person living through something similar may be feeling. How we interpret and respond to a given event is unique to us. The same event experienced by two people (the recent death of a loved one, for example) can be viewed in different ways, and can produce different reactions as a result.
As a coach, I’m very careful to avoid saying, “I know how you feel” or “I know what you’re going through,” because these statements are false. Only the client really knows these realities. Instead, I might say, “I can imagine how you might feel right now” or “I’ve lived through something similar, and can remember how it felt for me.” I’ll never say something like, “as a result of this event, you will feel…,” as this would be a massive imposition of my subjective viewpoint on the client.
11. You’ll be able to appreciate yourself more
I come across a lot of people who are really hard on themselves. It seems like they’ve forgotten how awesome they are!
It’s OK if you’re not exactly where you want to be in life right this minute! Most people alter slightly their desired life destinations all the time, making it virtually impossible to actually arrive at some magical place called a “perfect life.” Stop freaking out if you’re not there right now, because there’s a decent chance you never will be.
Instead, try this:
- look back on the amazing life experiences you’ve been through
- remember the amazing people you’ve met
- realize how far you’ve come as a person, friend, parent, athlete, leader, student…choose the noun that is most appropriate for you
Understand that as long as you’re breathing, you have a chance to grow in whatever direction you’d like. It helps a ton if you have the awareness to know where you’re starting out at.
Of course, there are more than just 11 benefits to being self-aware. This is just something to get you started as you reflect on where you’re at in the various areas of your life.
If you imagine any life journey as a drive to get from “point A” to “point B,” it helps to have an idea of what “point B” (your vision) looks like.
It also helps to have a map (strategy and plan of action) of what lies between the two points.
But if you can’t figure out what “point A” (who and where you are right now) is, then your map is useless and “point B” might as well be…unknown!
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