“Who am I?”. If you have a good answer to this question, you are ahead of a pack. You have solid foundation for your life. By the way, this question has become iconic in Latvia, after our ex-president Valdis Zatlers (president of Latvia 2007-2011), not too long after his inauguration gave speech in a press conference and asked this question to himself not theoretically or joking, but sincerely, being lost in a moment of self-doubt and frustration. It felt like Winnie-the-Pooh with his sincerity and fluff in his head has somehow taken control of our president… It is just an example of how much fun is around us in business and leadership, small or big leaders we are.
If you are sure about what motivates you, what are your strengths, what are your weaknesses and you know and honor your ethical standards – you are among elite group of people that are advancing on the way of self-awareness.
In psychology, the concept of "self-awareness" is used in different ways. As a form of intelligence, self-awareness can be an understanding of one's own knowledge, attitudes, and opinions. For sake of simplifying the subject (so that Winnie can understand it too), we will stick with the definition above.
Media has created many myths about importance of individuality, about what is a success, and has created many paradigms about leadership. Media tells us that leaders need to stand out from the crowd, being confident, not vulnerable, always top-notch, nice looking etc. Tendency is to create the ideal leader, who possesses only positive (or marketable “Superleader”) characteristics. The one who always wins, makes right decisions, is hyperactive over-achiever, has charisma of Gandhi, emotional stability of Chuck Norris, looks of Angelina Jolie etc… This unfortunately can lead to distorted self-awareness. Young aspiring managers frequently try to compare themselves vs that “ideal super-leader”, and are negotiating themselves into “I will never be great leader”, in case comparison is not flattering. Frequently it is not. Then think of humble and happy Winnie, whenever you get trapped by “I am not the ideal leader” thinking.
Think of stress that you will avoid by accepting and enjoying who you really are vs trying to be what media tells you to be. Think of all the different people that have made significant achievements in their lives despite not being smartest, tallest, skinniest, beautiful etc… If they have done it, what is the thing that stops you? You are much smarter and more beautiful than them!. For sure have a close look at what are your assets! Analytical skills (Winnie would not really care…), loud voice, empathy, ability to inspire, to entertain, tenacity etc. Think of how your best friends would describe you. They may be good in spotting your assets! Remember to focus on building on your strength not “fixing” your weaknesses.
What really matters for a leader is to understand your own inner self and stay true to it. Being ideal leader is not the objective. Being true to yourself is. Trying to be perfect leader is not OK. Perfectionism is one of the main reasons for psychological breakdown. Do not even engage in that rat-race after perfection that carries small value but huge cost.
Knowing your strength and building on them provides clear benefit – your success rate and effectiveness as leader increases. On other hand, knowing your weaknesses does not mean that all you have to do is to work hard on fixing them. Instead, being aware of your own gaps, you will know what to look for in your team members. You will be aware of potential risks and opportunities. You fill be more confident of your abilities when going gets tough. Knowing your strengths will help to you to maximize not only your own output, but will help to grow and develop your team. Being self-aware, knowing your strength will make your daily navigation easier and will optimize your energy consumption. You will know the “tools” you have, and those you need to buy or rent…
Willingness to understand yourself and your own experience will be the only key to unlock the deep secrets of your inner core. This process of self-discovery and learning will never be complete. There are hundreds of psychological tests to find out, if you are extrovert or introvert, if you are positive or negative thinker, if you have strong analytical skills or visionary thinker etc. These tests will provide you with solid understanding of basic characteristics of yours. “Strength-finder 2.0” is the one I like the best (Disclosure: I am not getting commission for this, unfortunately), but choice is yours. Still, nothing will replace good old desire to excel. Verifying your findings in tests with your actions and results from real life will help you to complete the portrait of "you at your best". As neuro linguistic programming says: "person is not what he/she is, but he/she is what he/she can be at their best".
Here are some simple steps that you may consider to begin your path of self-discovery
Understand the significance of your natural mental and physical reflexes. Each person has an innate propensity to move away from any source of an unpleasant sensation be it mental or physical, and to move closer to any source of a pleasant sensation.
Understand your freedom to make personal decisions. The will of a human being is functional when a person is awake and voluntarily initiates those activities of the brain and the body which are not reflexive. The choices which a person makes today are the architect of the future which he or she may live long enough to inhabit tomorrow.
Cherish your linguistic abilities. Human beings belong to the most advanced category of organisms in terms of the ability to communicate.
Ponder your innate desire for superiority. Each human being has the natural capacity and proclivity to evaluate himself or herself and other human beings as individuals with respect to appearance and performance. Each human being also has a name as a point of reference for him or her as well as a reputation to uphold.
The five standard senses used for such an evaluation of things in the physical realm are seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting and each is sensitive to pleasant and unpleasant sensations. Sights and sounds have a duplicating feature which allows them to be recorded.
People are naturally predisposed to pride with respect to the possession of strength, attractiveness, knowledge, highness and fullness and shame with respect to the possession of weakness, repulsiveness, ignorance, lowness and emptiness. Human beings also each have an innate desire to be noticed and looked up to by at least one other individual in the Universe other than himself or herself, and there is a general and innate fear of complete rejection and loneliness.
Each person has his or her own unique repertoire of gifts, talents, skills, qualities, abilities and interests on which to build high self-esteem for a higher potential of success in activities and relationships.
Ponder your natural curiosity about reality.
Existence is both real and imaginary or tangible and intangible.
A person’s physical body is hungry for physical materials, his or her holistic awareness is hungry for non-physical truth, and both of these types of resources are necessary for a person to feel fulfilled.
Human beings are rational organisms and the goal of understanding one's self and one’s surroundings is a hallmark of how people naturally operate.
There is a distinct difference between belief and knowledge and between theory and fact. Beliefs and theories are possibly true depending on how rational they are whereas knowledge and facts are definitely true based on the proof of observation and experience.
Life may be a gift of love from a divine being which is the product of planning or it may be the unintended product of the natural unfolding of the cosmos, but either way, life is structured with creativity, rationality and dignity and affords much of value and utility for which to be thankful. I am.
People are able to investigate what is necessary for things or events to exist or happen as well as the potential or actual usefulness of things or events. People attempt to make sense of the mystery of existence.
Enjoy the trip of self-discovery, and remember that being perfect is not OK!
“I don't see much sense in that," said Rabbit.
"No," said Pooh humbly, "there isn't. But there was going to be when I began it. It's just that something happened to it along the way.”
― A.A. Milne
By now it is clear to me, that I am addicted to playing bridge (sport version of it). And after playing bridge for 20 years, one starts to see and hear bridge also in things that are not really about bridge. This time, here comes the collection of top 10 songs, that one can link with bridge (or card) player... Enjoy!