Looking Inward

Without self-reflection, how is it possible for one to know himself or herself? And if I don’t know myself, how can I lead myself? And if I cannot lead myself, how can I lead others?
— Harry Kraemer, former CEO of Baxter International

When I think of leadership, both in our careers and in our personal lives, (parent, volunteer, sibling, spouse, etc.) I cannot separate it from awareness. In fact, from my perspective, you cannot lead your life effectively without it. Awareness, or consciousness, must be at the foundation of your leadership, and it begins with self-awareness.

So what does being self-aware look like? In my daily work with individuals and companies, I help leaders get to know themselves deeply and honor who they are at their core. Through assessments and coaching that reveal amazing discoveries you can SEE and FEEL who you are and how you interact with others in your world. You can define the foundational principles and values that guide you; the beliefs that support your emotions and actions (good and bad), and the unique combination of talents that only you have, and that with proper investment, become strengths that lead you effectively toward the whole-life success you desire. Conversely, you also can shed light on your default tendencies – those habits that can prevent you from achieving that sense of success and purpose that we all crave.

In some ways we understand these things about ourselves, but with the noise and stress of daily life we often operate unconsciously – just going through the motions with little intention, which often results in a lack of energy (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually) to be able to get from point A to point B faster and easier…if at all (spinning our wheels endlessly!).

When we are highly aware we also pay attention to how we are perceived – how we operate through the lens of others. Are we as effective as we can be? Are we being the kind of leader that others need and expect of us? Are we others-focused, or are we only caring about ourselves and how we win?

Science and statistics show us the strong link between awareness and leadership. I cover a lot of this in my courses. I love being a scientist of human potential and connection! In fact, Emotional Intelligence (EI) experts, like Daniel Goleman, teach us how EI (EI = Awareness, Expression & Management/Controlling of Emotions) is far more necessary than IQ in powerful and effective leadership. IQ only takes you so far. You can’t build EI without awareness!

The path to being a highly-aware individual and leader is not easy, but it is so worth it! Through awareness you create meaningful connections – with you at your core, with those you work with and lead, with those closest to you, and with your own and your team’s goals and mission.

In closing, to help you become more aware of your awareness (LOL!), try this very simple daily strategy:

  • Set your timer to go off every hour for one week. If this is too much, try it twice a day — once during lunchtime and once in the evening when you’re winding down from the day.
  • When your timer goes off, just take five minutes or less (no more than that) to create a short list that answers the following questions:

• “What did I notice about myself in this hour/morning/afternoon?”
• “What did I notice about others?”
• “What did I notice about my environment?”

At first this may be really hard and you won’t come up with much. But as you get used to it, you will realize so much about yourself, others and your environment because you are paying closer attention. You’ll see things you never did before. You’ll have many “hmm’s?” and “aha’s!” You’ll also notice more ways to connect with others and the world around you. We don’t live alone in this world, right? We certainly can’t accomplish much on our own either!

I’d love to hear what you noticed! Please make sure to share below and keep the dialogue moving and growing!

Here’s wishing you a day of shock and awe! You’ll see both with this exercise.

For some more fun reading, here’s a great FastCompany article that details some of the benefits of being aware and mindful. Enjoy!

Wishing you a life well led,