BE AWARE… Of Yourself

Accountability Books Growth mindset


Key Point: How important is the skill of self-awareness? So many pundits, including me, have written about it. To be able to develop and grow as people and leaders we need self-understanding. What are we feeling? Why? What motivates us? What defines our values? What framework do we use for problem solving and decision-making? In their new book Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck:  What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur and Build a Great Business, Anthony K. Tjan, Richard J. Harrington, and Tsun-Yan Hsieh demonstrate that self-awareness is one quality that trumps all, and they claim it is evident in virtually every great entrepreneur, manager, and leader. So of if we know self-awareness is so important, what do we do to better promote and develop it? Do you have a framework and plan of doing so? The authors of the above book believe the trinity of better self-awareness is: Know thyself, improve thyself, and complement thyself. I support this model. 

1. Know yourself better by testing yourself more. There are many solid tests, with tons of validity to help us know better who we are. Tests like Myers-Briggs, Predictive Index, and StrengthsFinder, Colors Personality Inventory, all facilitate self-reflection, which leads to better self-awareness. The above noted authors recently developed the Entrepreneurial Aptitude Test (you can take it here) which measures how one stacks up in the four key traits that drive business and entrepreneurial success: Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck. I plan on developing one for The Character Triangle. The point is that it is hard enough to know ourselves and this battery of tests really helps us better understand our strengths and shortcomings. 

2. Consciously watch yourself and learn. In the organization I’m CPO at, we are at the forefront of using videotape for learning leadership improvement, the way the sports industry has for years. There is nothing more riveting than watching yourself conduct some leadership initiative on video. Sports coaches have broken down film for years. We need to look at our own leadership in action as well. But there is also much we can do without technological help. As an example, it is my understanding that Warren Buffett, has made it a habit for years to write down the reasons why he is making an investment decision and later look back to see what went right or wrong. And as I’ve noted many times in previous blogs, open and honest reviews by peers and others provides a key mirror to who we are perceived to be. We need outside eyes to help us see ourselves better.

3. Be aware of others. When our self-awareness of what drives others is sharp, we can increase self-enlightenment. Having the right complement of people and a supportive learning organization allows us to clearly see what we do well and what others do well. The more we understand what motivates others improves our ability to recognize matters about ourselves and hence more self-development.

Character Move:

  1. Make self-awareness a priority in our developmental journey. Have a self-awareness learning framework to help you.
  2. Take a few personality tests and work with others to better understand the self-insights from them. Do not be afraid of the results. They are not judgmental. See if you can determine how key others you work with would fit into one or more of the core behavioral buckets.
  3. Find a way to get video taped in a variety of environments and watch what you learn about yourself. This is the ultimate self-awareness vehicle if your company signs up for it!
  4. Work at it! Self-reflection and the related reward of self-awareness cannot be thought of as ” fluff,” passive exercises, new age meditation, or mushy science. They’re absolutely essential. As the authors in Hearts, Smarts, etc point out; there is a reason why the starting point in rehabilitation programs is being aware enough to admit you have a problem. It’s the same case in business leadership and personal development.

BE SELF AWARE in the Triangle,