Most people are not self-aware. They can’t be. Everyday I run into someone new that either has no idea where they are on their journey to success or have a false perception of where they stand altogether.
On some levels you don’t even have to know the individual personally, you can just look at them and tell that they’re out of touch with who they are.
It’s the mechanical engineer who is now playing for the a semi-pro football team because he still thinks he has a shot at the league.
It’s the mid-twenty-year-old stuck in the same end of the road job because they aren’t aware of how talented of a musician they are. It’s the indie band that’s been performing at dive bars for the past three and a half years because they never saw that they were actually better at the business side of music, not the music itself.
Self-awareness is arguably the most essential component to your growth as an individual, both professional and human. It serves as a constant truth serum, protecting you from your own rationalizations, excuses and false sense of reality, and doubles as a compass that’s directs you towards the necessities you need to be successful.
It’s easy to get lost in your search for your career.
We hold on to childhood dreams that we’ve refused to let go, plans that we swore to stick to, and ideas of how things are supposed to work. Sometimes these delusions can sink us deep into ruts that only some come out of.
When you have a clear understanding of what you’re good at, what you aren’t good at, and what reality really is — not what you think it is– it gives you the opportunity to optimize your strengths and own your weakness.
Optimizing Your Strength
People succeed when they focus on what they do best. The problem is that we don’t do what we do best. We devote more of our time to fixing shortcoming than developing our strengths.
But self-awareness allows you to recognize and optimize your best skill sets. When you know who you are, you’ll seek out the opportunities that play best to what you do best.
But the more people I meet, the more I find who have no idea what their strengths are.
It could in part be society’s fault. At a young age we’re told to be humble, to carry ourselves with a sense of modesty, which, in turn, may have influenced us to shy away from giving our talents attention.
But almost like athletes who know which facets of their game outshines the others, knowing what you’re good at is crucial to your pursuit of greatness.
Are you a visual or auditory learner, are you athletic or are you more in tune with the strategy of the game? Are you a public speaker or are you a computer programmer?
Knowing you’re good at something doesn’t make you cocky or an asshole, it just allows your to pursue the route to success that best compliments your skill set.
Keying in on what you are great at is so pivotal to your development that many colleges and universities incorporate the StrengthsFinder test as part of the curriculum to help inspire freshmen.
I took the StrengthsFinder test my freshman year in college, and while I didn’t leave the questionnaire with a sudden revelation of my purpose, the test helped me think more critically about what sets me apart.
Once you own what you do better than anyone else, you can enhance that skill even more, and use it in every arena you see fit. Of course this can only happen when you are conscious of the skills you have.
Owning Your Weaknesses
Failures are there to remind you to be great. Just like there are skills, trades and talents that inherently come easy to you, there are also certain techniques and professions that you’re simply not good at.
To get ahead, to grow and advance in whatever area in life you desire to advance in, you must know where you don’t stack up, own it, and then make the appropriate adjustments to ensure that you’re compensating for your slight weaknesses.
The problem is that too many people can’t handle the truth. It’s why they have a hard time accepting what they are not good at, it’s why they surround themselves with yes men, it’s why they’re so easily offended by criticism.
We know what we’re bad at. Even if we shove it in the rear of our subconscious, we know what areas in our lives we struggle with the most. Self-awareness takes these weaknesses and lays them out in plain site.
That way you can’t get tripped up, way in over your head, or a several years into a profession where you plateaued far sooner than your peers.
A lot of us think that when we admit we cannot do something it means losing, especially if it’s something we so desperately want to be or do.
Owning your weakness is not succumbing at all. It’s knowing your limits, then strategizing in a way that gets you around such roadblocks — whether that’s bringing in outside assistance, finding a different career within the same passion, or simply quitting and resorting to doing what you are good at.
Living in Reality
Our sense of reality is fragile. If we’re not wary of how we see our lives, we risk the chance of being blinded by our own biases and that could be detrimental to the progress of our success. That’s why self-awareness is so critical.
Even if you’re already successful, maintaining a healthy dosage of self-awareness ensures that you will stay true to the tactics that got you there, instead of chasing the new popular trend. Without it, we’re on an island, alone with our own thoughts and insecurities, which can force us to make irrational decisions.
Choosing to be self-aware means that you’re choosing, at all times, to be vulnerable, humble, and open.
It means that you know there is more to learn, although you will mess up, because mistakes are inevitable. Self-awareness allows you to be proactive, not reactive, to how to best navigate your journey to success.