KB10 - The 4 Levels of Self AwarenessApr 01, 2023
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Self-awareness is a superpower that, if properly understood and worked on, will significantly impact your life.
It is said, however, that only 15% of the world is self-aware!
This is for several reasons, but before we get into that, let’s explore exactly what I mean when I say. "Self-Awareness"
What does “Self-Awareness” mean?
Self-awareness is the ability to recognise and understand your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours and their impact on yourself and others.
This is very much broken down into two main categories.
Internal Self-Awareness - How we view and interpret our thoughts, feelings and behaviours
External Self-Awareness - How we view and interpret others' thoughts, feeling and behaviours
What’s interesting about self-awareness is that just because you have high internal self-awareness does not mean you have high external awareness and vice versa.
So, how do we determine which one we’re more competent in, which we’re lacking and where we need improvement?
Harvard Business Review’s research identified 4 Self-Awareness Archetypes based on these two factors, and in this newsletter, we will discuss each one.
Introspectors are those with high internal self-awareness but low external self-awareness.
One great thing about Introspectors is that they spend a lot of time writing down their thoughts and feelings and being aware of their behaviours and actions.
Although introspection is a great thing to do, many people don’t do it very well.
They come up with their reasons for behaving or acting in a certain way and then make assumptions based on those things to give themselves clarity and confidence.
Although clarity and confidence are nice, if the reasons behind our behaviours and actions are wrong, we will almost certainly behave and act like that again.
This is why feedback from others is so important!
One of my many favourite quotes is…
“It’s hard to see the label when you’re stuck inside the jar”
When you ask for feedback from other people about your behaviours and actions, it can be painful to listen to, especially if they highlight something you have weaknesses in, such as listening to others and patience.
However, the great thing about understanding your weaknesses and getting feedback from others is that you become more self-aware and can try to improve them.
Seekers are those with low internal self-awareness and low external self-awareness. A seeker will either be someone who is very young and doesn’t yet know what to do with their life or someone who is a little bit older and has been feeling a little bit lost and without direction, not knowing which path to go down.
If you’re a seeker, it’s important that you get a notepad and pen out and brain-dump down these three important questions…
- What do I enjoy doing with my week?
- What am I good at?
- Is anyone out there getting paid to do what I am good at?
These three questions will set you off on a journey of self-exploration to better understand what you want to do with your life. The next thing you need to focus on is improving your external self-awareness by understanding how others see you. For this exercise, reach out to at least three close friends and get them to answer the following questions…
- What is the number one skill that makes me a good friend?
- What are some of the things you think I’m naturally good at?
- What are some things that you think I’m really bad at?
Number three is hard pill to swallow, especially if three of your friends respond with the same things. However, this is a step in the right direction for becoming more self-aware.
Pleasers are those with high external self-awareness but low internal self-awareness. One of the most dangerous things about being a pleaser is that escaping is very difficult.
When you’re completely focused on how you look to others and put the needs of others before your wants and needs you get heavily rewarded for it!
Pleasers have many people tell them how awesome and reliable they are when they need help. Because of this, it’s almost impossible for that person to say no; over time, this greatly hinders your success and progress.
To get out of the pleaser archetype and start moving into the aware archetype, the pleaser needs to get better at saying no and focusing more time on what they truly want to do with their own lives.
Aware people are those with high internal self-awareness and high internal self-awareness.
Ideally, this is what we all seek to accomplish, and although not easy to do, if you’re willing to do the work, I genuinely believe people can progress to this archetype.
Mastering Internal Self Awareness
To master internal self-awareness, you must make a habit of daily journalling and reflection. When you start to write things down, the important questions to ask yourself are not “why” but “what”.
Why did this happen to me today? - usually, when we ask ourselves why questions, it can cause us to have irrational or negative thoughts that appeal to our fears and insecurities
(e.g. this happened to me today because I’m stupid or because that person doesn’t like me)
What can I do tomorrow to improve today? - when people ask themselves what questions, they focus more on solutions to problems, future actions and creating an improvement plan.
Interestingly, researchers from Harvard Business Review analysed hundreds of interview transcripts of self-aware people and found that “why” appeared fewer than 150 times, and “what” appeared more than 1,000 times.
Mastering External Self Awareness
To master external self-awareness, you will also need to master your ego.
To become a master of external self-awareness, you must routinely seek honest feedback from others and ask yourself if how you see yourself aligns with how others see you.
When getting feedback from others, it’s important to remember the “what, not why” mentality and that if someone gives you negative feedback on something you need to improve, focus less on asking the question to yourself, “why do they think that” and more on “what do I need to do to improve this area so they no longer think that”
A “why” question will cause you to play on your fears and insecurities and make you try to rationalise their feedback so you can ignore it.
A “what” question will enable you to take action on that feedback and improve those areas in the future.
👉 Introspectors - High internal self-awareness, low external self-awareness. Introspectors need to improve in getting feedback from others and not jumping to conclusions with their behaviours and actions
👉 Seekers- Low internal self-awareness, low external self-awareness. Seekers need to start asking themselves the important life questions of what they enjoy and are good at. They also need to get feedback on their strengths and weaknesses from others.
👉 Pleasers- Low internal self-awareness, high external self-awareness. Pleasers need to stop doing so much for others, get better at saying no and take time to map out what they want to do with their own lives.
👉 Aware- High internal self-awareness, high external self-awareness. Becoming one of the 15% highly self-aware is not easy, but it can be mastered with journalling, self-reflection and matching it with honest feedback from those around you. Remember always to ask yourself “What,” not “Why.”
I hope you enjoyed this week's knowledge bomb!
Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you for the next one soon.
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