You order coffee and take a sip, only to find that it isn't quite right. The barista may have used almond milk instead of non-fat, or maybe that shot of caramel is a little lacking. You probably feel irritated and put out. But then imagine someone who cannot afford that designer cup of coffee in the first place. Imagine how that imperfect cup to you, could bring happiness and warmth to someone else.
Have you ever had an ah-ha moment when the light suddenly turns on, and you see inside yourself? Maybe it wasn't a moment with expensive coffee, but rather in a board meeting or simply overhearing staff talk.
Think of a small start-up company that is initially wildly successful and making tons of money. The leaders, however, are inexperienced, more analytical and left-brained, and displaying leadership attitudes of the past. A technician, who does a brilliant job at work, is seen erratic and unmanageable because he is 'needy' and emotional. The technician is eventually let go or quits of his own accord, even though his job performance is impeccable.
The company will likely blame the employee. He wasn't a good fit, or he was just too much work to manage. The ones in charge will never consider that the fault might be with themselves. They don't have the maturity and self-awareness to realise that they needed to respond differently to this person.
Other employees will witness how the technician was treated, and it would be no surprise if high turnover becomes an issue. No one wants to work in an environment of oppression with little employee respect and understanding.
Leaders must make a conscious decision to develop self-awareness. Is the small start-up going to be successful in the long run? Probably not. But imagine the possibilities if leaders embraced their weaknesses and were looking past the short-term.
How can you become more self-aware?
Self-awareness is about developing an understanding of who we are and how we come across to others. Before you can be self-aware, you need to appraise yourself honestly. What do you do well, and what motivates you? What emotions are important? And what do you do poorly, and how does your bad days affect others?
“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.”
When we enhance our self-awareness and develop areas that need adjustment, we can modify the thoughts and interpretations in our minds. If you change the interpretations you place on things, experiences or people, you can change your emotions and behaviours.
How Awareness relates to Agility
Awareness is one of the 4 pillars under the competency of Agility in the . Being unaware severely limits people’s capacities to adapt to environments. Understanding ourselves and those around us, on the other hand, can help us be more agile and effective to lead in the fast paced economy of the 21st Century.
5 Tips to Enhance Your Awareness
- Seek feedback from others - read related article
- Watch your ego
- Set a positive example
- Teach or coach others
- Keep in mind that everything you do impacts others
Remember that imperfect cup of coffee? Self-awareness will help you appreciate your life, who you are and what you have.