self awareness

Decision Making

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In a recent HBR article, I was intrigued by a piece called Blue Ocean Leadership by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne.  The article was about a strategy one can employ within a business to effectively engage employees and use time more efficiently.  The premise offered was that once you establish the current benchmark, and then understand what you ultimately want to achieve, it’s then all about what you choose to do, or not.

22091317_blogIn the case of this article, the work involved activities relative to various levels of organizational leadership but there is also some relevancy to one’s personal and professional life that I would like to build on.  As we assess where we are at with our career, in relationships, our financial standing, etc, it’s good to often take stock of the present.  By then contrasting this with where you would like to be you then simply make decisions to move you towards what is more desirable.  Based on the principle of Blue Ocean Leadership this can be achieved by doing the following:

1.  Eliminate the actions and activities that are not serving you and you would be better off discontinuing.
2. Reduce the actions and activities that you could do less of and free up time for more important things.
3. Raise (increase) the actions and activities you would like to do more of that are more consistent with where you want to be.
4. Create (commence) the actions and activities you are not doing today that will help get to your desired state.

The above is all framed relative to tangible actions and activities.  However you could also view these relative to how you choose to behave.  What behaviors are not serving you well that could be eliminated or at least reduced (eg temperamental outbursts)?  What about starting some new behavior or doing more of (eg expressing gratitude when somebody does a good job)?

These are all about making conscious decisions and having the self awareness around where you are and where you want to be.  This may seem obvious; but to most, it’s not!

What is Self Awareness?

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If you were to ask most people what they thought self awareness is about you would most likely be greeted with a quizzical look.  Yet much has been written on this subject and many thought leaders would argue that it is at the heart of interpersonal and leadership effectiveness.  So what exactly is it?

Genos, known for their expertise in the area of Emotional Intelligence, offer the simple definition that “it’s the skill of perceiving and understanding one’s own emotions”.  In simple terms, this means there is a level of (self) consciousness that allows you to be “in tune” with your own moods, feelings, emotions and actions.

Self awareness is something that ultimately lies within; you have considerable control.  Unfortunately many of us go through life saying or doing things and behaving in certain ways without realizing the consequence in terms of relationships, careers and ultimately one’s ability to achieve success.  We tend to operate on auto pilot and we quite simply don’t “look before we leap”.

So what can be done about this?  There are two techniques through which one becomes more self aware.  One is to do more self reflection which can be as simple as taking some “quiet or thinking” time, practicing meditation and/or consistently (self) reviewing how things are going.  The other is to solicit feedback from others.  In a work environment this might be formally through a review or a 360 process.  But it could also just be as simple as asking somebody for feedback in terms of how you are doing or have conducted yourself.

The key to remember is that it all starts with you!  Others form perceptions based on how you show up in terms of your moods, feelings, emotions and actions.  The only way to change those perceptions (if you so choose) is to change you.  Self awareness, though not the end all, is certainly where it all starts.

Internal Feelings and External Actions

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John was a successful executive, had climbed the proverbial corporate ladder and career wise everything was on track, or so it seemed.  He was running a subsidiary of an international company and when he started first he was over the moon; it was where he always wanted to be.  However after a few years something unsettling began to emerge for him and he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

Despite the fact that he enjoyed great autonomy, ironically he also felt restricted in what he could do.  Nothing had changed externally as the relationship with his reports, peers and bosses were all very positive up to this point.  However internally he sensed something was not right and this began to have an impact on how he behaved with others.

What quickly became apparent was the autonomy he enjoyed was also fueling a need for even greater independence and that some sort of entrepreneurial endeavor was calling out.  More importantly, in the absence of this greater independence, resentment had developed that was beginning to show up negatively in his working relationships with those around him. Read more

Emotional Intelligence – Helps You Get Ahead

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Knowhow – Perception Power

How emotional intelligence can help you get ahead

By Bill Sex

Special to the Worcester Business Journal

02/01/10

Daniel Goleman, in the Harvard Business Review, proposed that IQ and technical knowledge are mainly “threshold capabilities” and simply exist as entry level requirements for key positions.

The key is a high level of emotional intelligence, which provides the “link” — the ability to connect with and relate to other people.

So what is emotional intelligence and how does it relate to business relationships? Feelings influence the way we think and the decisions we make. For example, you wouldn’t ask your boss for a raise or more resources if he/she was in a bad mood. The response would likely be no. The scientific term for this is “mood congruent thought.” Feelings influence our outward displays and behaviors and therefore play a huge role in our relationships. Read more