Self-awareness: The foundation of effective leadership

To wake up means to regain consciousness. I get it, some people need a louder alarm clock to wake up. I am not referring to a physical alarm clock, although it makes a great analogy. I am referring to the fact that something unfortunate has to happen in order for some people to recognize that something is wrong, or something is not aligned with their vision. Vision is where we want to go or what we want to do. When we wake up in the morning, one of our first tasks is to look in the mirror and to get dressed. There are mornings we may see certain features we may want to change, but we may not make appropriate adjustments. Have you ever done that?

Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought of cleaning something off your face, but got side-tracked, only to be embarrassed later when someone else brought it to your attention? Like looking in the mirror, we must look at ourselves, our spirit and body, and look at the world around us. With an objective view, we have to analyze what fits, what is working, and what is not. However, to make an accurate assessment of our beauty we must have a vision of what we should look like. Then we can use that vision to recognize when something is out of place.

Self-awareness is a critical skill needed for us to be honest and connect with ourselves. As you look in the mirror of your life and realize that something is not working within yourself, you have to build a sense of urgency to explain why an immediate change needs to take place in your life. Once you realize something within you is out of character for who you said you want to be, wake up and change it. Many times, we become complacent, thinking the issue will resolve itself. Building a sense of urgency may be as simple and as important as prioritizing. Tell yourself, “I need to get this in check right now, so I can move on to where I need to go.” I have found that when we perceive a matter as urgent or critical, we tend to have a higher propensity to take action and make adjustments. It is a mindset change, a different way of thinking. Stop and take inventory of where you are relative to where you want to go. Ask yourself, “Does my current state represent the direction I want to go in my future state?” If not, be willing to change something. 

I love the question Dr. Phil likes to ask, “How is that working for you?” You have to look where you are and really decide where and is it working? Is where you are and what you are doing the right formula to get you where you want to go? This is the time to be open and honest with yourself. If it is not working, develop a plan to change course. Easier said than done, I know! Unfortunately, what we need to reach our highest potential, is likely not carved in stone in the form of a practical easy-to-follow transition plan. For some people, this may mean enrolling in a training program or going back to school for a degree. This can also mean forgiving someone to resolve a past issue. Also, it is perfectly understandable and expected for us to tap into support from others. This may mean getting support or help from a partner, a counselor, an advisor, a coach, someone to help us see and think differently. As humans, when we are in a high-pressure circumstance, we tend to not see clearly, unless we are highly trained for such situations. Simply because there are often many moving pieces. These are the times when having a trusted advisor, someone who whispers, “wake up”, or “calm down, it’s going to be alright” is of great value.

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