Self-Awareness: The Key to Transformation
Let me ask you this question:
If nothing changed in your life in the next five years, would that be okay?
I mean everything in your life—your health, relationships, friends, career, feelings of fulfillment, achievement and so on.
Let’s move the calendar ahead five years.
- You are the same person
- The conditions in your life are the same as they are today
Is that okay with you?
For the majority of you, it would not be.
One definition of insanity is to continue to do the same things over and over again, and expect different results. If you want different results, you must change what you are doing and/or the way you are doing it.
Before you can act with purpose and direction, you must understand what you need to change and how to go about it.
When you are not self-aware about your own preferences, gifts, talents and tendencies, it’s impossible to act intentionally. If you are not aware, you are living life—day after day, year after year—oblivious to your own thought patterns and beliefs.
All of us have met people who are completely unaware that their behavior and conduct are inappropriate and affecting others. They have no clue they are clueless.
This was proven in the research from Dr. Tasha Eurich who wrote the book Insights. Self-awareness is the meta skill for the 21st Century and foundational to our success. In her research 95% of individuals believed they were self-aware, but when further study was conducted the actual number of individuals who were actually self-aware was only 10%!!! That means over 85% of the population don’t know, that don’t know, that they don’t know!
As a frequent traveler, I spot unawareness on every one of my trips:
- people who stop at the bottom of an UP escalator, staring into space, with no idea they are holding up the line of fellow travelers forming behind them
- people who let their carry-on bags hit each seated person in the head as they make their way down the aisle.
In his book, Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits, Wayne Dyer said it well:
The reason why awareness of awareness is so powerful is that it immediately puts me in touch with a dimension of myself that knows that: here in awareness, all things are possible.
Wayne went on to quote a Harvard Study that tracked 84 female room attendants who were working in different hotels.
The women were divided into two groups.
- For the control group, it was “business as usual.”
- The second group was told that their work was “exercise.”
- The group that recognized their work as exercise experienced significant health benefits. In just four weeks, they dropped weight and lowered their blood pressure, body fat and body mass index.
- The control group (“business as usual”) experienced no improvements, despite engaging in the same physical activities as the second group.
This study reveals that your attitude—which is linked to awareness—can have profound effects on your well-being.
Awareness of our beliefs is one thing. But what about awareness of our style (“Personal Style”) preferences and all the implications they have in every part of our daily life?
A study conducted by TalentSmart discovered that less than 30% of the population has a solid understanding of their own style preferences.
This means that about 70% of the population has no inkling of how they appear to and interact with others. They have little idea of their strengths and skills, and without knowing what they are, they can’t implement them properly. In the study, the 70% who were oblivious about their Personal Style had considerably more difficultly handling stress and interpersonal relationships.
The study compared people’s levels of self-awareness to their ability to achieve the things they found most important in life:
- Satisfaction with life increases dramatically with self-awareness.
- People who are self-aware are far more likely to reach their goals.
- “Aware” individuals take time to first learn and then understand their Personal Style so they can better respond to life’s challenges and opportunities.
- Because they understand their situation and can identify the people who will help make them successful, they can more easily implement the right strategies.
- They also understand their limitations and adjust their attitude and behavior accordingly to minimize any negative impact.
- They know what they really want; their awareness motivates them to take the best steps and actions to get where they want to be.
Self-awareness is so predominant to success that it transcends age, intelligence, education, profession and job level. The TalentSmart study found that 83% of top performers are high in self-awareness, no matter their industry or profession, yet just 2% of low performers possess that critical skill.
The reality is that individuals who understand their style preferences and tendencies are much more likely to play to their strengths at work and home, limit the negative impact of their deficiencies and get the results they desire.
When you become aware, you cease being a victim of your circumstances. You own your own space.
In my younger years, I was not self-aware. During my first few months of college, I learned the power of self-awareness. It was my first time away from home and out of town, and let’s just say, I let loose. I became boisterous and loud in an attempt to be the center of attention. My quest was to get people to like me, but the outcome of my actions was the opposite: “Oh, no! Here comes Ken!”
About three months into my first semester, I had a chance to sit down and have a couple of drinks with one of the sharp girls in our dorm. Thirty minutes into our conversation, she said, “You’re not a jerk, after all. In fact, you’re a really nice guy!”
In complete shock, I asked her what she meant.
“Ken, you are loud, and sometimes obnoxious. You try way too hard. It really is quite irritating. But in this conversation today, you are calm, interesting and focusing on our discussion.”
I was immature and unaware that my actions were driving people away, not bringing them closer.
You don’t have to wait until college to be self-aware. When my son, Tim, was in eighth grade, we started to coach him on the impact his Personal Style was having in his environment. We were creating self-awareness in him.
Tim’s style is active and verbal, contrary to the learning model in education that wants everyone to be compliant and quiet. A lot of tension had developed between my son and one of the younger, less-experienced teachers. Her response to Tim’s verbal nature was to try to put tighter controls on him, which only exacerbated the situation. She was not aware, either.
We coached him to manage his verbal nature and tone it down a bit. We did not want to change who he was, but we wanted him to be aware that his verbal energy was disrupting the class. Less than a week later, he burst through our door at home, excited to tell us that class was going a lot better. I asked how he was achieving that excellent result. “Dad,” he said, “I learned how to shut up!”
Tim was so proud of his ability to manage his self, while being self-aware. If a 13-year-old can do that, anyone can.
Used with permission by www.squarewheels.com
When you look at the image above of the wagon with the square wheels, what do you see and think?
- What do the square wheels represent as a metaphor for your life—both at home and at work? You might answer with words like struggle, difficult, inefficient, challenge, hard, toiling, stuck—even silly.
- What about the people behind the wagon? What do they see? Only the back of the wagon! What is their perspective on life and this situation? For sure, it’s limited.
- What about the person pulling the wagon? What is he thinking and experiencing? Is he wondering if anyone will come along to help? He’s not looking back to see if there is any way to improve the situation.
- And what about the round wheels inside the wagon? What do they represent? Do words and ideas like opportunity, improvement, easier way, upgrade, progress, a different way of doing things come to mind?
Naturally, this will lead to more questions.
- Why are they stuck—both the leader and the followers?
- Why don’t they put the round wheels on the wagon or at least consider doing that?
- How far away are the round wheels? The wheels are readily available, but the leader and the followers are unaware of the opportunities.
Have you ever met someone who is dealing with a problem and the answer to his or her dilemma is obvious—right in front of their eyes—but they still don’t get it? The answer they seek is right there, but he can’t, or won’t, see it. They are completely oblivious to the opportunity.
I admit, in the past, to being quick to judge when individuals did not see the obvious. I now understand it was not obvious to them. Rather than standing in judgment, let’s move to help and coaching people to see their prospects.
After more than 30 years of serving others in the field of personal and professional development, I see many situations like the one depicted in the second illustration below.
Used with permission by www.squarewheels.com
A caterpillar tractor is now pulling the square-wheeled wagon!
- This is the thinking: “Let’s commit ourselves 100% to our square wheels. Let’s take what has not been working and do it harder.”
I see this every week in individuals, families, teams, organizations—even governments—that dedicate themselves to their square wheels. They embrace the certainty of misery rather than the misery of uncertainty.
If you look closely at the second illustration, you’ll notice that arrows are sticking out of the driver’s back. The blind devotion to broken, unproductive habits causes pain to everyone involved.
So, what about you?
- Where in your life—personal and interpersonal effectiveness as well as career fulfillment—are you holding on to square wheels?
- Where have you blindly—without conscious intention or awareness—stayed committed to your square wheels?
Here’s my challenge to you:
Everyone has a few square wheels—including myself. Rather than protecting the status quo, I’m encouraging you to start looking for and using round wheels. As you can see, the round wheels are within reach—if you choose to embrace change using new information.
We at CRG provide “round wheels” for you in my book, Why Aren’t You More Like Me? If you find its message helpful, please share it with others. Assist them with their awareness and help them use “round wheels” for their journey along life’s path.
Be aware that to live a satisfying, fulfilled and successful life, understanding your Personal Style and the styles of others is not an option. It is essential! By completing CRG’s Personal Style Indicator assessment, you will learn about your Personal Style preferences and patterns and the other factors that constantly influence your reality.
Self-awareness without action is not beneficial to anyone. Like anything else, if you don’t use it, you lose it. By exercising your knowledge, you have the opportunity to transform not only your life, but the lives of others along the way.
People really do want to live inspired lives, so get connected to your purpose and passion. with these resources:
CRG’s calling is to assist others to live, lead and work on purpose—including helping people discover their passion and learn how to live it, intentionally, every day. An on-purpose person has a vibrant mind, body and soul. Consider the following processes and assessments:
· CRG’s Personal Style Indicator, Stress Indicator and Health Planner, Values Preference Indicator and Self-Worth Inventory assessments will help you fully understand yourself and embrace your passions.
Until Next Time,
Keep Living On Purpos