Know Thyself – The Power of Self-Awareness

Know Thyself - The Power of Self-Awareness

Know Thyself – The Power of Self-Awareness

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the real significance of the teaching “Know Thyself” and how it links directly to effective leadership and success in all areas of your life.

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Now, let’s talk about the real significance of the teaching “Know Thyself” and how it links directly to effective leadership and success in all areas of your life.

“Sometime around 600 B.C., one of the Seven Sages inscribed the now famous words ‘Know thyself’ on the Temple of Delphi in Greece.

Knowing yourself means knowing what you want, how you feel, what makes you tick. What are your dreams, fantasies, fears, goals, passions and deepest desires? What moves you and motivates you? What would you try if you had no fear? What are your fears? What are your issues? What pushes your buttons? What do you most like about yourself and what do you least like about yourself? If you were to write your own epitaph, what would it say? What do you want to be remembered for when you leave this world?” – Excerpt from my book, “Soul Mates”.

The maxim “Know Thyself” can have various meanings and interpretations such as knowing who you really are so as to prevent you from false boasting or, knowing yourself and your wants and thus paying no attention to the opinion of the masses.

The skill and ability to know oneself (self-awareness) leads to greater control over one’s life, behaviors and outcomes, and more success in every area of your life. You cannot have a satisfying relationship if you don’t know who you are and what you want.

All transformation begins with self-reflection and self-awareness; when clients enter a rehab center for addiction recovery, the first step is the process of self-awareness.

Self-awareness is also a key component of emotional intelligence, and self-awareness has been identified as a key trait of successful leaders.

Green Peak Partners and Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations conducted a study in 2010 of 72 executives at public and private companies with revenues from $50 million to $5 billion.

The research identified key interpersonal traits amongst successful leaders and placed self-awareness as the top criterion:

“Interestingly, a high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of overall success. This is not altogether surprising as executives who are aware of their weaknesses are often better able to hire subordinates who perform well in categories in which the leader lacks acumen. These leaders are also more able to entertain the idea that someone on their team may have an idea that is even better than their own.”  

A similar study exploring “managerial self-awareness” conducted in 1996 by Allan H. Church found that high-performing managers had greater self-awareness than average-performing managers. Read the full study here.

Daniel Goleman, a Harvard psychology Ph.D. and a New York Times science writer, authored the book in 1995, “Emotional Intelligence.” Goleman identified four models of emotional intelligence that he believes drives leadership performance. The first is self-awareness – the ability to read one’s emotions and recognize their impact while using gut feelings to guide decisions. To learn more about the other three models of emotional intelligence, read my article “Emotional Intelligence”.

A lack of self-awareness also disengages surrounding people – they withdraw mentally and emotionally. In other words, when a leader lacks the ability to know him/herself and the consequences of their actions and behavior, the result is alienation of team members. This principle applies to family members as much as team members in the business or corporate world. An effective leader is willing to ask for and face the truth of how others perceive him/her.

We often equate leadership with vision, charisma, strategic thinking and the ability to speak articulately and eloquently to an audience, but those abilities are useless if he/she cannot drive and motivate his/her team. A leader has to be able to lead, motivate, influence and inspire his/her team and that’s not possible if he can’t get along with anyone.

Effective interaction with people can only occur when one has self-awareness, along with emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is so critical to success that one study revealed that four-year-old children who can control their desires for a marshmallow would later succeed in life. The children who could control their desires proved to score higher in aptitude tests later in life while the children who gave in to temptation early on were more likely to be lonely, easily frustrated and stubborn. They buckled under stress and shied away from challenges. Read more about emotional intelligence. Take the emotional intelligence test and learn the strategies to develop your emotional intelligence.

Here are seven simple steps to help you become more self-aware:

  1. Write out a list of your strengths and weaknesses, fears and fantasies, and what you most and least like about yourself. A leader who identifies his/her strengths and weaknesses excels at delegating, recruiting and allocating talent
  2. Write a journal on a daily basis and any time you feel stressed or overwhelmed; write about yourself, your emotions, actions, results and insights (otherwise you will have poor sleep and excessive dreams); beware of losing your depth and personality by living off Twitter and bursts of text messages. Read my article about how to journal effectively.
  3. Take a personality test or assessment. I offer two personality tests – “Who are you – Talker, Doer, Thinker or Watcher?” and “Subconscious Imagery Personality Test” which helps to identify the ways you communicate and interact with others, how you perceive life’s opportunities, the ways you respond to obstacles, how you perceive yourself, the one thing you must act on, and more: Click here to take the tests.
  4. Write down why you’re making a decision and what you think will happen as a result of that decision; it’s key to know why you want anything in life
  5. Get executive and success coaching and/or professional counseling
  6. Engage in mindfulness, practice meditation and cultivate a quiet mind which allows you the opportunity to become more aware of who you are; it also improves intuition
  7. Allow and encourage your employees, team members, friends and romantic partner to give you open and honest feedback

“The cyclone derives its powers from a calm center. So does a person.” – Norman Vincent Peale

Becoming, self- aware and knowing thyself are only the first steps to success and effective leadership.

After awareness come acknowledgment and acceptance, followed by action. One must take responsibility for his/her actions and outcomes! And a successful leader cannot be so if he is not willing to look at himself in the mirror and make the necessary changes.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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