Can you imagine if you were writing a dating profile of yourself?
What would you put down as your best qualities? What traits would you list as most desirable in a potential partner? What do you like best - dinner and a movie, or cocktails at the swankiest new bar in town?
For some of us, writing out our dating profile is the closest we ever get to taking an objective look at who we are and what we want. And what’s more, we realise that it’s not a once-off task. As we meet different people and experience different types of dates, we start getting a better sense of ourselves. We then use this new knowledge to better present, or position, ourselves to gain what we most desire, be that a fun date to paint the town red with or a serious commitment that leads to love, marriage and pension plans!
Amy Webb’s famous and funny Ted Talk describes the exact process. While there’s a lot of useful advice in the video about online dating (!), there’s an even more valuable lesson about why having deep knowledge about yourself is the key to unlocking the very best we want from life.
(Spoiler alert:) The algorithm might have helped Amy find her soulmate, but it was her insights into herself that ultimately delivered true love to her door.
Increasing your level of self-awareness is a lot like figuring out your dating profile.
And trust us, it’s ongoing. Most of us think we’re self-aware, but only a minority can really claim to be so. Yes, that’s right. Lashings of self-delusion exist in the human race rather than an abundance of self-awareness it seems! (Organisational psychologist, Tasha Eurich, has studied self-awareness for years; and while 95% us fully believe that we’re self-aware, the truth is that fewer than 15% of us are.)
Self-awareness and your career
“Few people internalise that you can choose and create your career. Imagine the growth opportunities and richness of experience you’ll enjoy if you build a career that makes the best of your strengths, stretches you with enjoyable challenges and supports you as you learn and discover,” says Linda Davis, CEO of Next Recruitment.
This scenario is a vast departure from the 9-to-5 “work for a paycheck and nothing more” habit that too many people get into. In this case, self-fulfilment and job satisfaction are foreign concepts.
There’s no winner here either. A bad fit between an employee and an employer has a significant cost for both, from a financial as well as a confidence and mental health point of view.
“It’s the candidates who have a high level of self-awareness, and who take charge of their career, that go on to find roles and opportunities that allow them to flourish and attract great success, “ Linda elaborates.
So how exactly do you build this superpower of a skill?
“Tell me about yourself” - how to develop self-awareness
Since self-awareness is defined as knowledge about the different elements of your personality; from your strengths and weaknesses to your emotional reactions, motivations and thought processes, the idea is to develop a lifelong habit of learning about yourself.
It’s also worth noting that developing self-awareness means committing to self-improvement. Not everything you discover about yourself is going to be optimal, but this knowledge is as valuable as anything complimentary you discover too.
The Johari Window Model
Allow us to introduce you to the Johari Window Model.
This useful tool will give you a blueprint for building your self-awareness superpower muscle.
Essentially, the Johari model has four main areas that will help you understand yourself and how you interact with other people.
●Open Area - Open Self (Arena) - this area represents what you already understand about yourself and what you know other people know about you. Elements such as your consistent behaviour, knowledge, qualifications and skills and known history are all placed here.
●Blind Area - Blind Self (Blind Self) - this area represents what others know about you that you don’t know about yourself.
●Hidden Area - Avoided Self (Facade) - this area looks at what you know about yourself but other people don’t.
●Unknown Area - The Unknown Self (Unknown) - this area represents the unknown about you to both yourself and others.
The goal is to enlarge the top open area with as much knowledge about yourself as possible.
How do you do that?
Dive deep into your past
Think about the places you’ve been to in your life, the people you’ve met and the experiences you’ve had in your life to date.
Can you see some patterns emerging? Do the friends in your social circle all bear very similar traits? Have you landed yourself in the same situation time and time again?
Your past holds many keys to your present. Going back to it and understanding your life so far is a necessary self-awareness exercise.
Write a journal
Keeping a journal will pay dividends for life.
In fact, journaling is now being seen as leadership development exercise and CEOs are actively being encouraged to make a date with their diaries.
Journaling provides one of the strongest methods for you to increase your self-awareness as you’ll write from a reflective space. As you jot down your activities and thoughts about your day, you’ll naturally start thinking more clearly about yourself and your responses to things.
Ask yourself why. A lot.
If you’ve always done things the same way, you’re always going to get the same result. Asking yourself why you do something the way you do it, and could there be value in changing that, could lead to a whole new path of self-discovery.
Are there some tweaks you could make in the following areas of your life?
●How you interact with other people
●How you work on your own
●How you work as part of a team
●How you manage stress
●Your degree of organisation (e.g. admin, finances, time)
●Your work preferences
●The way you use your time
As you begin to understand more about yourself, you’ll bring so much more clarity to your job search. You’ll be in the driving seat as you craft the next step of your career journey with a CV, filled with deep insights, that stands out from the crowd - and find your dream job.
Yes, dream jobs do exist - but they only happen for the self-aware.
In 2019, introduce you to you
A boost in self-awareness is the best favour you can give yourself as you begin another year.
Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, the challenges you thrive on and the ones you’d rather pass on, immediately helps you to find the work that’ll contribute to you living your best life.
And, when you’re content with yourself, you can give your best to those around you. Being a better employee, or team leader, parent or partner is much easier when you’re self-aware.
Best of all, you get to meet and build a lifelong friendship with someone fascinating. You!