Self-awareness is a powerful ability of some and less powerful of others. The key part is some people are very self-aware and others aren’t. And for some, they are very internally self-aware yet have very low external self-awareness. Meaning they are very keenly aware of their internal needs and actions in self-fulfillment yet not very understanding of their effect on others. Or maybe simply more selfish. And for others, they can be very externally self-aware, yet have low internal self-awareness, simply meaning those are often people pleasers, yet often overlook what matters to them and make choices that aren’t in service to their own fulfillment.
For much of my life, I really hadn’t thought much about or intentionally studied self-awareness, let alone internally and externally self-awareness, until my parents told me of a story about running into a feed-yard owner that I used to see every Monday. My parents ran into this man at a fundraising supper and spoke to him for a bit. And at one point in the conversation, he told my parents, “You know what I like about seeing Nels every Monday morning? Every Monday morning when I see him, he always has a smile on his face, and says “Hello” and we visit on things for a bit.” When my parents told me this a number of years ago, was when I began to think about the effect I had on people around me from simply a smile. This was a number of years ago but then made me dig deeper into the subject of self-awareness. Self-awareness has a number of definitions and can be broken down into internal and external as you dive deeper into the subject, but to me, it is very simple. It is our effect on others around us or that we interact with each day.
Another author spoke about self-awareness being one of three things with every interaction with people each day. Each interaction is either positive, negative, or neutral in experience for the other person we interact with, and it is up to us to determine the type of interaction that occurs for that person. I recently had a conversation with a group of feed-yard cowboys on this very subject, as many people never really think about this, nor talk about it. Every single person in the room was a first-generation immigrant but two, and it was important to discuss this subject for them to fully understand their effect on teamwork, moral, and simply the tone for day if they aren’t self-aware when they come to work in a bad mood, unhappy that day, or in a bad state of attitude. Each cowboys’ actions that day can lead to success or failure, and each one of them is part of creating that. The more of them that we can make very self-aware of their daily activities and attitudes, and interactions with each team member, the greater the chance we have for daily success.
For all of us, it is extremely important that we begin to think more about the term self-awareness, what it means, and how it affects us. Some of us are naturally self-aware, and others must intentionally work at it. My 10-year-old son is one of the most self-aware beings I know, and up until recently had no idea what it meant until we started talking to our children about it. It is up to each of us to understand how we affect our family members if we wake up grouchy in the morning. Or how we affect our coworkers as we arrive at work in the morning without a smile on our face and don’t simply tell everyone “hello”. Or how we affect our friends when we get to school and are in a bad mood from a friend being rude to us the day before.
Being keenly self-aware every morning to start the day is a key to success because mornings set the tone for the day. I routinely hear people say, “I’m not a morning person.” And I say, “Well that’s fine, just understand that your “I’m not a morning person attitude” is permeating your family, organizations, and friendships with negativity to start each day!” Which I might add is absolutely terrible and unacceptable for my value system.
Being self-aware is critical to your success in all of your relationships. Odds are you don’t see yourself as others see you. If you don’t see yourself, you can’t understand your impact on others.