If someone asked me ten years ago if I know myself, I would have confidently said, Yes. I would have also given the same answer early this year. However, with each day I learn a side of me that I never thought of in details. It does not necessarily mean that I change. It means that I take time to analyze my behaviors and other default settings that I previously did not heed to. It has also meant being open to feedback even when it hit me the wrong way. I can however confidently say that this year I have dated me, I have hang out with me and I know me better.
Self-awareness is a never ending journey. However, it is also a deliberate and intentional journey. It can also be a painful journey. However, Self-awareness is not self judgement. It’s looking and seeing and discovering who you really are. It makes you appreciate a part of you that you took for granted. It also makes you discover a side of you that you never thought existed or mattered.
When you talk about self-awareness most people think their personality or their strengths and weaknesses. We are however deeper than that. That explains my focus this month on human needs and human values. In the last three Fridays I explored our need for Certainty, Variety and Significance. Our human needs consciously or unconsciously influence our behaviors and actions. Being self-aware means you know why you do what you do. It also means that you lay a foundation for change and improvement. “There is no greater sense of empowerment than the gift of self-awareness and ownership of all who you are…balance your perceptions find the other side of you that is always present.”
Allow me to break the focus on human needs and reflect on our values. Most of the time we think of values as words that reflect in our character such as honesty or integrity. I however want to look at values in terms of what we consider most important to us. What would you do if you were given a free will, time and resources? Interestingly we would all choose different ways of spending our time. Some would decide to travel the world, some will build a palace for themselves, others will want to give back to the less fortunate while others will retrieve to a cabin in the woods.
Whatever decision you make is influenced by your highest values. I always I reiterate, none is better than the other. This only reflects our differences and the need to respect and embrace our diversity. Your values dictate your identity. Focusing on your highest values gives you mastery in an area that you highly care about and let go areas that you can get others to do for you. In the words of Lawrence Bossidy, Self-awareness gives you the capacity to learn from your mistakes as well as your successes. It enables you to keep growing.
Three years back a HR manager asked us in a team, “if you had all the money in the world what would you do? You can guess the first answer from most people, “I will quit my job.” The only challenge is that most people did not know what to do after quitting. This means that most people are not aware of their highest values. I still remember my answer, “I will not necessarily quit but I would prefer to work as a consultant, I will also want to support less privileged children to access education.”
I may not have thought of it as my value but during my 2020 self-discovery journey one of my highest value turned out to be learning, growth and developing others. This means that I give my best when my work revolves around these values. Realizing your values makes you realize where you easily give your best. It also helps you understand why you easily get along or get attracted to certain kind of people or work. People are not necessarily bad they are mostly different in terms of personality, their highest needs and their highest values. We however judge others based on our highest values and needs. In the words of Dr. John Demartini, Betrayal is not what they do to you, it’s what you do to yourself when you project your values to others and expect them to live up to them.
Allow me to borrow his guide to help you identify your highest values. What are your top three answers to below questions?
1. How do you fill your personal /professional physical space?
2. What dominates your time?
3. What energizes you? (you almost always have the energy for it and feel energized after)
4. What do you spend most on/spend a lot of money on?
5. Where are you most ordered & organized?
6. Where are you most disciplined, organized & focused?
7. What do you think about when you think about how you want your dream to come true?
8. What do you visualize coming true?
9. What’s your internal dialogue of your dreams coming true?
10. What’s your external dialogue – when talking to others?
11. What inspires you most?
12. What are your most persistent & consistent goals?
13. What do you want to study, read or listen to most?
If you think deeply through the answers you will pick a common theme or trend. Feel free to consult people who know you well; your loving critics. The common answers will direct you to your highest value. It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are. Your values guide you to your area of utmost interest, productivity and fulfillment. In the words of Elvis Presley, values are like fingerprints, nobody’s are the same but you leave them all over everything you do.
Your values are the heartbeat to your why.