Self awareness is understanding your own strengths and weaknesses as a person. The idea that self awareness is important to true success isn’t new; Dale Carnegie said as much in his 1936 bestseller “How To Win Friends and Influence People” when he wrote that one should talk about one’s own mistakes before criticizing another person. The key issue is how to become more self aware. Here are three keys from Anthony K. Tjan’s recent article in Harvard Business Review:
Test and Know Yourself Better. Personality tests like Myers-Briggs, Predictive Index, and Strengths Finder have gained popularity in recent years, for good reason. The tests are not perfect measures or predictors, but they facilitate self-reflection, which leads to better self-awareness.
Watch Yourself and Learn. In the classic Harvard Business Review article, “Managing Oneself,” Peter Drucker wrote, “Whenever you make a decision… write down what you expect will happen. 9 or 12 months later, compare the results with what you expected.” Drucker called this self-reflection process feedback analysis and said it was the “only way to discover your strengths.” Many successful people follow similar practices: Warren Buffett, for example, has made it a habit for years to write down the reasons why he is making an investment decision and later look back to see what went right or wrong.
Be Aware of Others, too. Self-awareness is crucial when building a team. Knowing your natural strengths and weaknesses makes you a better leader. But you also must be an acute observer of others’ strengths and weaknesses. Effective teams are made up of people who both understand and complement each other.
You cannot be good at every skill needed for success. Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses enables you to capitalize on your strengths and improve on your weak areas, and also helps you have empathy for others – an essential component of emotional intelligence