In the Art of War, Sun Tzu remarks that if we know ourselves and we know our enemy, we can go into 100 battles and emerge with 100 victories. But how do we know ourselves? The secret is to practice a little talked-about skill – Self-Awareness.
What is Self-Awareness?
Self-Awareness is the ability to see yourself as you truly are. Too often we bounce through life arrogantly thinking that we are right and others are wrong. It’s easy to do. After all, we have access to all our thoughts and reasons. At best, we only know a bit of other people’s perspectives. No wonder we can so easily believe we are right and everyone else is incorrect.
Or on the other hand, many of us do the exact opposite. We crawl through each day, certain that the criticism of others is all true and we are indeed dumb or ugly or worthless or whatever other crap we’ve been told.
Both of these perspectives are dead wrong and very self-limiting. If you want to improve your life this year, you absolutely have to break free from all the flattery or put-downs of others and instead see yourself for whom you truly are. Only then can the other areas of your life start falling into place, such as your career and love life.
The fact is, we generally are pretty dishonest with ourselves. We lie to ourselves everyday, and overtime this leads us to hold a distorted view of ourselves. Some people wind up with unreasonably positive views and others with unsupported negative views. Either way, the way they view themselves is not aligned with how they truly are.
How do We Become Self-Aware?
The key to becoming self-aware is simple but hard. Practice radical honesty with yourself. Seek out honest feedback from others. Stop lying to yourself. If you screwed something up, admit it. If you did well, give yourself some praise. If you keep making a mistake, dump the excuses and come up with a solution. Once you are honest with yourself and are receiving honest feedback from others, you will truly know yourself.
And once you have a clear view of who you really are, it will completely change your life.
If you a serious about truly understanding yourself, Get Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Written by Dr. Brené Brown, this book became a New York Times Bestseller. In my opinion, it is the best book out there on how to become self-aware and comfortable in your own skin. Here’s the review on Goodreads.
Researcher and thought leader Dr. Brené Brown offers a powerful new vision that encourages us to dare greatly: to embrace vulnerability and imperfection, to live wholeheartedly, and to courageously engage in our lives.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” —Theodore Roosevelt
Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable, or to dare greatly. Whether the arena is a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation, we must find the courage to walk into vulnerability and engage with our whole hearts.
In Daring Greatly, Dr. Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability. Based on twelve years of research, she argues that vulnerability is not weakness, but rather our clearest path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection. The book that Dr. Brown’s many fans have been waiting for, Daring Greatly will spark a new spirit of truth—and trust—in our organizations, families, schools, and communities.
I’d highly recommend getting it in audio-book format and listening to it while you commute or during your workouts.
To your daily growth!