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Self-Aware Much?

My new book is called 7 Habits of High-Retention Managers. One of the seven habits in the book is Manage Yourself. Who wants a hot mess manager that is always freaking out? As a manager, your emotions are contagious. If you freak out about something, chances are, others will too. If you are moody, your bad vibes will spread. To lead others well, you need to be able to manage yourself first.


The ability to manage yourself starts with being self-aware. If you become more self-aware:

  • You will be much more effective because you know yourself, your personality type, and your tendencies.

  • You will understand your habits, strengths, and weaknesses so you can pick the response that is most effective for a situation.

  • You will improve your overall emotional intelligence—or “people smarts” as I prefer to call it.

How Many of Us Are Truly Self-Aware?

Human nature seems to endow us with the ability to size up everybody in the world except ourselves.” John Maxwell

I’d say that’s right on target! Organizational Psychologist, Tasha Eurich, states that only 10 to 15 percent of people are truly self-aware, yet 95 percent think they are. That’s a big gap! She says that there are lots of advantages to being self-aware including better performance, more promotions, and leading more effectively.

I think that oftentimes we operate on autopilot and don’t really think about our emotions and reactions or take the time to reflect on our strengths, weaknesses, and how we come across to others. So, how self-aware are you? Here are some questions to get a baseline.

  • Do you have a good handle on your strengths and weaknesses?

  • Are you able to read your own emotions?

  • Do you know if, how, and when your emotions enhance or hijack your thinking and behavior?

7 Ways to Become More Self-Aware

1. Take personality assessments.

Personality assessments are not the be-all-end-all but can certainly provide some clarity and insight as to why we operate the way that we do. My favorite assessments for this purpose are the Enneagram and the Working Genius.


2. Spend some time reflecting.

One of the most effective methods for cultivating self-awareness is to spend time reflecting. This must be done intentionally because our minds are undoubtedly over-stimulated. Most of us are going from work to outside activities and back again with a little sleep and family time in between. And any downtime is spent scrolling on our phones. Carve out some time to be by yourself and reflect on the questions below.

  • Who am I really?

  • What inspires me?

  • What makes me unique?

  • What do I do well?

  • What don’t I do well?

  • What uplifts me?

  • What drains my energy?

  • What do I value?

  • What are my fears?

  • What do I need to change to be most effective?

  • What is my purpose in life?

3. Ask trusted friends or colleagues for feedback or advice.

Ask trusted friends and colleagues to share their perspectives on your attitudes, traits, or behaviors. Let them know that you are working on becoming more self-aware and that you genuinely want candid, constructive feedback. People love to give advice so sometimes phrasing your request for feedback as advice can help you glean more information. You might say something like, “I’d like your advice on how I can improve my ability to communicate well” (or whatever the topic is). Maybe even approach it as feed-forward, asking something like, “How can I be most effective in my leadership going forward?”


4. Identify what triggers your negative and positive emotions.

Understanding what makes you mad, sad, stressed, or jealous can go a long way in terms of self-awareness. When you recognize what sparks your negative emotions, you can become more selective of the people, places, and situations you choose to engage with. This can also help you prepare for situations in which you might be triggered. On the flip side, you can learn more about what triggers engagement and joy in your life and try to get more of that!

5. Question your opinions and beliefs.

Challenging your opinions and beliefs is an amazing way to learn about who you are. Doing this increases your awareness of your thoughts along with biases and behaviors that stem from those thoughts. You may think, “Biases. I don’t have any of those.” As much as we hate to admit it, we all have them, and the large majority are unconscious. They stem from our past experiences including how we grew up, our parents, our schools, our churches, the media, cultural norms, and more. Biases harm our leadership and decisions, so we need to do the work to identify those that are impacting us and move past them.


6. Get clear on your core values.

Your core values are the principles that guide your life. They are the “why” behind all that you say and do. When it comes to self-awareness, identifying your core values is key. If you don’t know what your core values are, do the work to identify them. They will help prioritize your life and make decisions. Here is a helpful article or you can reach out and I’m happy to send you a workshop to help!


7. Keep a journal. 

Journaling is a great method to support the above strategies and to keep track of your thoughts, feelings, and triggers. You can jot down things like:

  • What did I do well today?

  • What challenges did I face?

  • How was I feeling?

  • How did I respond?

  • What could I do better next time?


Stay Tuned!

Next week, I will share how you can better manage yourself and your emotions.

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