Careers and Enterprise Blog

S is for… Self-Awareness.


S is for… Self-Awareness.

How well do you know yourself really? Self-awareness is the key to your happiness, growth, direction and success, but getting your head round what it is and what you need to do about it is not always easy. This blog from Andy explains what it is, why it’s important and what you can do to develop yours. 

For hundreds of years, philosophers have been telling us to know ourselves, to be more self-aware; but what is self-awareness, why is it important and how do you develop it? 

We can split self-awareness into two sides: the inside and the outside. They are both still about you, but the inside is about what drives you and energises you. What you are good at and what you need to work on. Your tendencies in certain situations, what’s important to you and what you believe about your abilities. 

The outside is about how you prefer to take in information, how you prefer to interact with other people, the role you tend to take on in a team and you’re understanding of how others see you. 

Self-awareness is important because you can only grow and develop with any success if you really understand where you are starting from. It also helps you make better choices too, which is especially important when you are applying for a new role. Knowing what you are good at gives you lots of confidence, and that means you talk about yourself more convincingly in your CV and in an interview. It also means you perform better in your new role, and you see more clearly how you fit in a team and why others need you. 

But self-awareness also means you know what you need to work on skills-wise and how you come across to others. 

There are lots of ways you can get to know yourself better, but they broadly sit in three categories: 

1) Talking to other people 

2) Taking self-assessments 

3) Reflection 

So, number one: talking to other people. That means asking for feedback from friends, colleagues, coaches, mentors and managers, listening to it carefully and noticing your reaction to it – do you get defensive? Do you only hear the negatives? Similarly, if you were already in a job position, you could use career conversations, appraisals and reviews to figure out what is working and what is not. 

Secondly, take a few online personality assessments. They can clarify your preferences, values, styles, motivations, strengths and weaknesses. That kind of feedback is sometimes much easier to hear from a report than from someone else. Such reports can give you a valuable language with which to describe yourself when talking to other people about who you are. 

Thirdly, just spend time reflecting on all the feedback from people you have spoken to and assessments you have taken. Think about all the jobs and extracurricular roles you have taken on and think, of all of these opportunities, when did I shine the most? Think about what you learnt from these opportunities, what worked for you and what did not, which parts were enjoyable and which parts were not your favourite and did it leave you feeling energised or quite drained! 

Use your quiet time to closely examine what you tell yourself on a daily basis and whether any of it is really true.  Then ensure you bring all of that awareness to the surface whenever you are making choices about your next steps to take. 

Self-awareness is about understanding you on the inside and how you interact with the world; so if you are going to grow and make good choices, you need to know yourself really well. Talk to people around you, do some personality quizzes, spend some time thinking about who you really are and incorporate that knowledge into your future decisions. 

Self-awareness could be your key to happiness, fulfillment and success. What one thing will you do next to get to know yourself better? 

Here are some to get you started: 

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