The Ancient Greeks wrote that you should know thyself. But self awareness is a seemingly rare trait. We rush to talk, to get our opinion across without thinking about the impact on how we are perceived. Why is self awareness so important, why is it so rare, and how can we become more self aware?
Self awareness is the conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires. Being self aware is necessary to understand how you are perceived by those around you, and how your actions and decisions impact that perception. It is a critical part of being empathetic, which taken together deeply impact your ability to influence others and drive your desired outcomes.
We have previously explored the fact that the strategist needs others to align and deliver on the vision. If a strategist is not self aware that makes the task all the more difficult, because they risk being perceived as arrogant, condescending or worse.
It often seems that self awareness is in short supply in our industry. This might seem odd given that ours is an industry built on influencing and convincing. I believe that this has become a rarer trait as we have moved more into digital and as soft skills have been increasingly de-empahsized in favour of hard technical skills. This lack of self awareness leads to conflict, waste and resentment, ultimately leading to a lack of progress and positive outcomes.
This situation makes self awareness even more important and valuable than ever. And that presents an opportunity for the strategist to truly stand out. With a heightened sense of self awareness comes the greater likelihood of career development and advancement.
So how do you become more self aware? For that, the key is to communicate with your colleagues. Have the confidence to openly and regularly solicit feedback. The more regularly you ask, the more honest they will be with their opinions. Find different ways to ask for feedback, either using different questions or ask for feedback about different things, for example, your communication style, a presentation or an idea. Most important of all, listen to the feedback they provide. Don’t get defensive, don’t argue. After all, this is their perspective that you are asking about. Ask them follow up questions to clarify their comments. Thank them for their persepctives. And then follow up with them at a later point to show them how you’ve taken their feedback on board. Your colleagues are the best source for you to become self aware. They will help you become more successful. Because without self awareness, there can be no growth.
Next week on octopus, we will continue to explore the role of the digital strategist. Please be sure to comment below. I’d love to hear from you. Please subscribe for alerts about new episodes and content. Thank you for listening to octopus. I’m Nasser Sahlool.