Why Self-Awareness Is Critical to Your Success
For some people, self-awareness is a scary, woo-woo idea reserved for hippies and tree huggers. It can be thought of as an irrelevant, soft skill that does not belong in the workplace. However, research shows that high self-awareness is the strongest predictor of overall success.
How can having a clear perception of your personality, including your strengths and weaknesses, motives, desires, and emotions, help you succeed at work?
Here are nine ways self-awareness can improve your career:
1. Build on what you do best – Gallup research shows that our best bet for success lies in building on the talents that come most naturally. Being self-aware allows you to know what you are good at and to invest the time, energy and attention to develop your talents into strengths and start performing like a rock star.
2. Do things better or differently – Self-awareness means also being conscious of your blind spots and knowing what may get in the way of your success. With this understanding, you can avoid repeating the same mistakes and patterns of behavior that have led to failure in the past. It also allows you to develop a practical approach to overcome obstacles and produce the results you want. “It’s more useful to be aware of a single shortcoming in ourselves than it is to be aware of a thousand in somebody else.” – Dalai Lama
3. Set meaningful goals – Goal setting often starts by having a clear understanding of where you are and where you want to be. Establishing goals is simply a way to close the gap between the two. However, goal setting becomes challenging when you don’t know what you want. Knowing this requires an awareness of your needs, your desires, and your motivations.
4. Reach your goals – Having a clear understanding of your personality, strengths, and weaknesses can also help you define the best way to reach your goals. This enables you to determine the most effective way to produce the results you want. It helps, for instance, to gauge when and how to use your strengths, partner with others, or further invest in your development to reach your goals.
5. Make better decisions – When you are self-aware, your decisions are more aligned with what’s important, what you want, and who you are. Having that clarity can help you decide what’s right for you instead of letting everyone else dictate what you are supposed to say or do. Self-awareness is the first step in any major decision, whether it’s choosing a career you love or knowing when to walk away from something or someone.
6. Make changes – Deciding to make a change in your life can be challenging when you are uncertain about your direction. However, being clear about who you are and what you want in life can be empowering and freeing. It can also give you the confidence to make the necessary shifts to align your life and career with what’s important. “What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself." – Abraham Maslow
7. Build successful relationships – Successful interactions are the result of your ability to perceive your emotions and the emotions of others. This starts by understanding your attitudes and your reactions to things and knowing how to manage yourself. Then, it’s about reading others and figuring out the best way to interact and communicate with them. You can’t do this if you lack self-awareness.
8. Seek the right opportunities – A wise man once said, “Don’t wait for the right opportunity: create it.” Amazing things happen when you take charge of your life instead of waiting for opportunities to arise. By knowing yourself and making a conscious effort to be proactive, you can create your own opportunities or seek the ones that fit what you’re looking for.
9. Be a better leader – You can’t be a good leader without self-awareness. Being self-aware gives you the ability to lead with a sense of purpose, authenticity, openness, and trust. It is also the first step in developing essential leadership competencies such as the ability to influence people, build collaborative relationships, and produce exceptional results. It can be challenging to build these skills unless you are aware of who you are and your emotions.
Is self-awareness a skill that you need to cultivate and develop further? A lack of self-awareness can potentially harm your future success. Being self-aware will give you a better understanding of who you are and will help you create a career you love and successfully navigate through it.
Amazing things happen when you actively seek new ways to grow and challenge yourself. You can get started by taking a psychometric test to identify your strengths, personality preferences, interests, work values, and motives. Additionally, you can request feedback from others to gain valuable information about yourself and broaden your perspective. Self-reflection is also a powerful way to uncover your desires and process your thoughts and feelings.
Your career can reach new heights if you stay curious about yourself. Learning about who you are is a lifelong journey for which the return is enormous.
Maxine Skerrett is an Executive Coach and a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach. Since 2015, she has worked with hundreds of professionals to discover what they do best and unlock their full potential at work.
Learn more about her Strengths-Based coaching programs
Learn more about her StrengthsFinder corporate workshops