Self-Awareness is a Paradox. The more of it you have, the more you realize how little you actually possess. It’s like the guy who tried to be tactful by saying, “Somebody’s deodorant doesn’t work.” His friend turned to him and said, “It can’t be me; I don’t use any.”
We all love to imagine ourselves as incredibly self-aware, but when a story, a point, a sermon, or an illustration comes up we always assume that it’s our neighbor who desperately needs to hear it and not us. Our time is spent judging whether our neighbors, friends, co-workers, and family members are blissfully unaware of their deficiencies or just too self-absorbed to notice. Despite 61 percent of Americans acknowledging that a gap does exist between the skills Americans have and those employers seek, 95 percent consider themselves to be either qualified or overqualified for the positions they hold. With such a disparity, one has to ask themselves if they are ignorant or egotistical.
It’s in our nature to think of ourselves as much more than we are and to find fault in everyone else. To avoid this trap we must constantly ask, “What am I not aware of about myself?” In doing so we can cross the critical threshold from unconsciously incompetent to consciously incompetent. Self-aware individuals speak with candor, admit their mistakes, thirst for constructive criticism, and exude a quiet confidence. They can stay true to themselves because they know who they are. They can keep their ego in check because they are acutely aware of their ignorance. Power is not a motivator for them. Individuals lacking self-awareness constantly place blame on others, fault-find like it’s going out of style, and possess a firmly entrenched victim mentality. Their base camp is on the Isle of Denial and they intend to stay there.
There are two proven ways to increase your self-awareness. First, spend time learning from others. Seek their council and input. Consider everything they say and do and how it can apply it to your life. Second, read personal-development books. How can we develop if we don’t read the manuals? Life’s too short to make all the mistakes there are to be made, so save yourself some time and heartache and read…and never stop. As Gandhi said, “Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as being able to remake ourselves.”