Self-awareness: A career-defining attribute

One recurring theme in my last two articles is the concept of self-awareness. The more I think about various limitations and barriers to career advance, the more I realize that most of the foundational issues are internal to the individual. An important part of this discussion is self-awareness which is the ability to yourself objectively and understand how others see you through reflection and introspection. Employers are always on the search for professionals and leaders who exhibit this attribute. For example, if you have ever attended a job interview where you were asked to discuss your strengths and weaknesses, the interview question is likely aimed at assessing your level of self-awareness.

There are two important aspects of self-awareness, namely: internal self-awareness and external self-awareness. The former relates to how we see ourselves with respect to our values, feelings, aspirations, strengths and weaknesses, and our thought processes. Whereas the latter focuses on our understanding of the world around us, how others view us, and how we incorporate the values of others into our lives. Both types of self-awareness are critical to your career success in the workplace. Developing both internal and external self-awareness means you have a clarity and confidence in what you want to accomplish but you are also open to ideas and feedback from others on how to go about achieving these goals. 

So, how do you cultivate and improve your self-awareness? Is lack of self-awareness costing you opportunities and relationships? Here are some time-proven strategies to develop this. One way to gain greater self-awareness is through meditation. Constant reflection on your feelings, thoughts, and goals, and your understanding of the world around you can increase your sense of self-awareness. Devoting some time to practice meditation can be helpful as well. Second, documenting your key priorities, feelings, and goals through journaling can help articulate your goals and bring clarity to your feelings and understanding of how others perceive you. A constant review and reflection on your documented goals and priorities can increase your sense of self-awareness. Finally, soliciting feedback from others about your work and personality from others and incorporating the feedback received into your work and life could improve your sense of external awareness among colleagues. 

Having watched how highly competent professionals tank their career prospects because of a poor sense of self-awareness, I have come to realize how fundamental this personal attribute is to career advancement and life growth. In fact, it has become one of key attributes I assess when starting out on a new mentoring relationship or working with a new team. So, how self-aware are you?