Leaders need to self-awareness and a lack of self-awareness is a main reason for leadership failure. We have heard this many a times and from many a sources. There are thousands of books on the subject and hundreds of workshops, retreats and interventions promising increased self-awareness. Self-awareness and understanding would lead to increased level of satisfaction and joy in our lives. But is it easy? How do understand us more?
Learning about self and understanding self is tricky and difficult. Psychometric tools, 360-degree feedback, and the deep inquiry we initiate to understand self, the feedbacks that receive from our friends and collegues etc. are some ways for us to learn about self. Chances are the we might be only understanding a shield that we have created and a false persona instead of really experiencing and understanding our core self.
" Many a times we create layers of protection around our real self and create a false persona and this makes it even more difficult to understand and accept whom we really are. Many of us form an identity of who we are because of our early life experiences and how we were treated and labeled. Then we might hold on to this false identity throughout our life without challenging and examining this identity."
As we start this inner journey we might first encounter these layers of false persona's, subconscious layers of deception and avoidance. Of course this will happen only if you are a serious seeker and reflective thinker. “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate,” wrote Carl Jung, the psychologist. While we think we know our self, we might be hidden beneath defenses and resistance. We might say that we are open to self-discovery but we might be behind apologies, justifications and intellectualizations.
Some one serious about self discovery might say " I always thought I am a calm guy, thoughtful, caring and considerate person. I never got angry and was always polite and gentle. But when I started exploring who I am, I discovered underneath that "niceness" there were feelings of jealousy, rage, fear; things that was unacceptable to me. So I learned that behind the niceness was fear, range and jealousy and my sadness but behind that I found, my capacity for love, joy and fulfillment Our social conditionings, our defense mechanisms, and false sense of identity might hide our true identity and self. "The ocean transformed, through the action of clouds, into the form of rivers, ceases to be itself. So indeed have you forgotten yourself through the power of conditions? Of friend, remember your Full Self, you are the real self. The ground of existence." The Upanishads.
So what are some of the things we could do to have a greater self-awareness? Here are some tips that helps you to reflect and explore your true self.
1. Look at activities and experiences that gave joy and meaning for you personally in the past. Why were those activies and experiences meaningful for you?
2. What are some of your natural strenghts and gifts?
3. What are your core values? What is truely important for you? What do you value most?
4. What irritates you? “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” wrote CG Jung, psychologist.
5. What is your life purpose? If everything around you could support you what would you do? What is the legacy you want to leave behind?
Reflect of on these five questions not with the mindset of finding quick answers but with the mindset of deep inquiry. This will give you a sense of your true self
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